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October 10, 2013

Matchup Preview: Purdue-Nebraska





GoldandBlack.com breaks down how Purdue and Nebraska might match up Saturday in Ross-Ade Stadium in the Cornhuskers' first visit to West Lafayette as a member of the Big Ten.

When Purdue's running ...

Purdue spent its bye week trying to figure out something to boost its anemic running game, whether it be tweaks to strategy or personnel. Needless to say, with a freshman QB, Danny Etling, in the lineup it would really help to have a passable running game to fall back on. It's not happened yet. Nebraska has been OK against the run, but is very young up front, so we'll see.

Advantage: Nebraska (decided)

When Purdue's passing ...

Yeah, we know: It might seem like a reach to give the nod to an offense with a first-time starting quarterback, playing without one of its best skill players (B.J. Knauf) against a defense that's generated 14 sacks already, but what the heck? The element of surprise could help Purdue some and if it can have some success winging the ball around early, the 'Husker defense has sometimes struggled with tempo and shown at times a penchant for letting things snowball on them. We'd expect to see a different Purdue offense than the one shown to date. How different, no telling, but Etling's arm does give it more options, seems like.

Advantage: Purdue (slight)

When Nebraska is running ...

Nebraska is different than Wisconsin but no less daunting, a top-10 running game nationally that will obviously look to exploit the Boilermakers' struggling defense. Tackling - obviously - comes under the microscope no matter what novelties the Boilermakers came up with during the week off. Ameer Abdullah is college football's seventh-leading rusher and coming off a weekend in which he hung 225 yards on Illinois.
Advantage: Nebraska (decided)

When Nebraska is passing ...


If Nebraska can have success on the ground - that'll be its plan, clearly - the Cornhuskers have weapons in the passing game the Boilermakers must also pay notice to. Kenny Bell is a stud and Quincy Enunwa has already scored a half-dozen touchdowns. Purdue must put pressure on the quarterback; Nebraska's given up only two sacks this season, the fewest in college football. Standout quarterback Taylor Martinez hasn't been playing and probably won't this weekend, but it hasn't mattered as Nebraska's offense has rolled the past two games without him.

Advantage: Nebraska (decided)

Special teams

Nebraska's been very solid on special teams, pretty much across the board. Purdue's been too, as Cody Webster's had a fine season and kicker Paul Griggs has now made five of his last six kicks. But that touchdown allowed on the opening kickoff of the second half against Northern Illinois is hard to forget.

Advantage: Nebraska (slight)

Intangibles

Nebraska will almost certainly look to make life very difficult on Etling in his first start; Purdue will look to hit the opponent with things it hasn't yet seen on film. The element of surprise looms large Saturday. ... Nebraska probably won't have Martinez, who still wasn't even practicing as of Wednesday, according to reports out of Lincoln. With a bye week coming up after Purdue and the offense producing under Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg, he'll get another Saturday off. ... Sacks and turnovers are two areas where Nebraska has been very good and Purdue not so much this season. ... Watch out for the pick-six. Purdue has allowed three and Nebraska scored on three. ... The Boilermakers seems like they're going to play a bunch of freshmen for the first time. ... How many Nebraska fans will show up? Very different circumstances, but last time Nebraska played on Indiana soil, this happened.






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