NEBRASKA (3-5, 1-3) AT PURDUE (0-3, 1-6)
DATE: Saturday, Oct. 31
GAME TIME: 11 a.m.
After dropping three of their last four contests, Nebraska travels to Purdue to take on a Boilermaker squad struggling more than the Huskers as of late.
On Thursday, Nebraska fans learned their football team would be without starting quarterback Tommy Armstrong who is battling a foot injury. Armstrong, who has made 22 straight starts, will turn over the reigns to junior Ryker Fyfe.
"I like Ryker, he is going to do fine. He has prepared well from the very start of camp and I'm excited for him." Nebraska head coach Mike Riley said.
Riley went on to talk about his confidence in the transition between Armstrong and Fyfe.
"Ryker is not held back by not knowing. It's just experience by playing. He's run all these plays, he's been the sole guy this week to take the first-string reps and get to execute in practice the simulation of Purdue's defense." Riley said.
"If I just said one word it would be efficient. I would be real pleased with an efficient, smart game," Riley said of the most important part of Saturday's game for his football team. "I think we had a great week of practice. I really appreciate this team, more so this week with all they've been through. I am just looking for us to play efficiently. Withthat investment said, we will be physical and play hard."
THE SERIES: Nebraska is 2-1 all-time against Purdue, playing two games since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2011 and another in 1958. Last season, No. 17 Nebraska hosted the Boilermakers. Behind 33 carries btween Tommy Armstrong and Imani Cross, the Huskers won 35-17, holding the Boilermakers to just 2-of-16 on third down.
WHAT A WIN MEANS FOR NEBRASKA: The Huskers have lost five games this year, but a small portion of the fan base is encouraged it’s only come by a total of 13-points - meaning Nebraska could be close to putting it together. Lose to a one-win Purdue team and it’s all thrown out the window. It would also mean Nebraska would need to beat ranked Michigan State or Iowa to possibly sneak into a bowl game at 5-7 overall, assuming the Huskers beat Rutgers in the middle of November.
WHAT A WIN MEANS FOR PURDUE: The Boilermakers look like a team who could possibly be making a switch at head coach this offseason. Purdue is just 5-26 overall under Hazell, including 1-18 in Big Ten play. At 1-6 on the season, Hazell will likely need some late season heroics to convince people he’s willing to get more time. Nebraska is struggling right now, but a win over the Cornhuskers is still something to hang your hat on – even if it doesn’t hold the same weight it did a few years ago.
NEBRASKA INJURY LIST: OLB.) Michael Rose-Ivey (groin), DT.) Kevin Williams (thumb), OLB.) Luke Gifford (hip), WR.) Alonzo Moore (head), OT.) David Knevel (unknown), DB.) Byerson Cockrell (family funeral) and QB.) Tommy Armstrong (foot).
WHO TO WATCH ON OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
QB.) Ryker Fyfe – The junior gets his first career start under center and has had very limited reps over the past two seasons. Appearing in eight games, Fyfe only had 11 attempted passes, with most of them coming in garbage time.
S.) Aaron Williams – The true freshman gets the start with senior safety Byerson Cockrell attending a family funeral. Williams had a really nice spring/fall camp and has played well in his limited opportunities. Williams could be a star safety in the Big Ten his junior and senior year.
REASONS TO BE CONCERNED: With Armstrong out and possible rainy conditions, Nebraska will likely try to pound the football. After rushing for just 2.2 yards per carry against Northwestern last weekend, the Huskers will have to be better against the Boilermakers, who rank just No. 92 in the country in stopping the run. Purdue is going to likely load the box and make quarterback Ryker Fyfe beat them, but at the same time Fyfe can’t throw 40 times in rainy conditions and still lead the Huskers to a win.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I think we try to have a real good pulse on our team. I’m sure we don’t hear or know everything, but we try through just general day-to-day conversation and… the football day involves a lot of interaction, so through this we try to get as much information as we can and address anything that we think is important. In that way, we hope we have a pretty good pulse on what’s going on. We know the issues that can occur when you’re not winning, and we try to hit those head up, face-to-face, in our meetings and address everything that we possibly can and keep the focus on growth and building the best atmosphere we can in that, so that we can teach and so guys are open to teaching. (It’s an) ongoing process. (There’s) always something you have to battle when you’re not winning and (it’s) always a key factor in continued growth.” – Mike Riley on his team being on the same page
JOSH HARVEY’S PREDICTION: I don’t think I have ever picked against Nebraska when they were a favorite coming into the contest. But, I have concerns heading into this one. Will offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf stick with the run in possible rainy weather, even if it’s not working well? Can this offensive line, after struggling last week, rebound to open up a few holes for the running backs? Will Nebraska be up for a game on the road, against a bad opponent, with hardly any fans in attendance? Can Fyfe keep the Purdue defense honest by hitting on a few passes early? The weather isn’t looking good on the forecast. I think this might be the perfect storm. Purdue: 27 Nebraska: 24
OTHER NEBRASKA PREDICTIONS:
Matt Svoboda, BRR contributor: Nebraska 24 Purdue 17
Joe Quinn, AM 590: Nebraska 24 Purdue 17
Brett Edwards, KLKN-TV: Nebraska 17 Purdue 13
Andrew Ward, KLKN-TV: Nebraska 24 Purdue 14
Peter Terpstra, KLKN-TV: Nebraska 10 Purdue 6
HuskerMo, BRR board member: Nebraska 31 Purdue 24
OTHER BIG TEN GAMES OF NOTES:(Illinois at Penn State / Michigan at Minnesota)
Harvey (14-5 overall): Penn State and Michigan
Svobdoa (11-8 overall): Penn State and Michigan
Quinn (13-6 overall): Penn State and Michigan
Edwards (11-8 overall): Penn State and Michigan
Ward (12-7 overall): Penn State and Michigan
Terpstra (11-8 overall): Penn State and Michigan
HuskerMo (11-8 overall): Penn State and Michigan*** Overall record includes all Nebraska games and Big Ten picks since conference