Purdue vs Nebraska Football: What to Watch For


After a weekend off, the Purdue Boilermakers welcome the Nebraska Cornhuskers to Ross-Ade Stadium, and look to break a five-game losing streak.

Any weekend that doesn’t include a Purdue Boilermakers loss in football is a good weekend. Now it’s back to the grind for Purdue (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten) who welcome the Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-5, 1-3 Big Ten) to town. And the question that continues to loom in West Lafayette: Will this be the week the Boilermakers break not only their current season losing streak but also their nine-game losing streak in the Big Ten?

More from Purdue

For the Boilermakers, the off week couldn’t have come at a better time. OK, that could be argued, but this team is a little banged up and they haven’t had an off week yet this season. Two weeks to gameplan for Nebraska should give Purdue it’s best chance at winning for only the second time this season, and if not then maybe it’s time to start looking at the coaching staff.

There are a couple of key points to this matchup that could turn the tide in either team’s favor.

1. Purdue running back D.J. Knox will not play after suffering an ankle sprain against Wisconsin two weeks ago. This is likely the only game Knox will miss due to the injury, but that elevates freshman Markell Jones as the true No. 1 running back. While the Purdue offense has been pretty stagnant since their game against Michigan State in Week 5 – 20 total points scored since – Jones could give them a giant boost, just like he did against the Spartans.

Who will backup Jones isn’t known yet – head coach Darrell Hazell noted several options – but it really shouldn’t matter. Jones has proven, arguably, that he should be the every down back for Purdue. He has 12 fewer carries than Knox, yet has 119 more rushing yards. That’s not an accident, and he’s not been rewarded for it. Since he carried 22 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns against Michigan State, he’s received just 18 carries. With Knox sidelined, you would imagine Jones receives closer to 20 rushes against Nebraska.

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

2. Nebraska has one of the best worst defenses in the country – currently ranked 111th in total defense on ESPN.com – and the Boilermakers have one of the worst offenses in the country – currently ranked 108th in total offense on ESPN.com.

On the flipside, the Cornhuskers have the 23rd best offense in the country and Purdue has the 85th best defense in the country. The one thing Purdue has going for them in this category: Nebraska has lost five games by a combined 13 points. So if the Boilermakers can keep it close, then they will have a legitimate shot at winning.

3. Starting quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. might not play for the Cornhuskers this week, which would be a major blow to Nebraska’s highly ranked offense. Armstrong has an injured right ankle and has missed a couple of practices this week, so if he can’t go then his backup Ryker Fyfe would get the start. Replacing Armstrong – who has thrown for 2,052 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions – won’t be an easy task for Fyfe, and could be a blessing in disguise for the Boilermakers.

Nebraska is still playing for a bowl game with four games remaining. Beating Purdue is crucial for them since they play Michigan State and Iowa still. For Purdue, they just need a win. They have no hopes for making a bowl game, but the idea of going 1-11 for the second time in three seasons is not fun.

These two squads will kick off at noon on Saturday.

As always, follow Ink on Indy for all your Purdue news and follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Next: Certain Doom for Pagano?

More from Ink on Indy