New league foe for new-look Purdue
October 11, 2013 8:42PM
Updated: November 13, 2013 6:13AM
After an open week, Purdue has made several changes, most notably naming freshman Danny Etling its starting QB.
Will they translate into results for the Boilermakers (1-4, 0-1 Big Ten) against Nebraska (4-1, 1-0) on Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium, as the teams meet for just the second time, and first since the Cornhuskers joined the conference?
“There’s a lot of positivity going around, and that’s great,” said senior defensive tackle Bruce Gaston, now expected to also see time at end.
Purdue has suffered back-to-back 31-points losses, to Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. The Badgers gashed the Boilermakers for 388 yards rushing, and Nebraska is averaging 291.6 yards on the ground, second in the Big Ten only to Wisconsin and ninth nationally.
Ameer Abdullah has rushed for 690 yards and five touchdowns on 94 carries. The junior running back is coming off a career-high 225 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries against Illinois in a 39-19 win for the Cornhuskers, ranked No. 24 in the coaches’ poll.
Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said the running attacks of Wisconsin and Nebraska differ, with the Cornhuskers relying more on deception. But similar defensive principles — gap discipline, sound tackling, and proper alignments and assignments — still apply.
Nebraska, which averages 42.4 points and 501.2 total yards, also has allowed the fewest sacks in the country (two), and its defens has been on the upswing after drawing early criticism.
Key player: Danny Etling. The obvious pick, but the spotlight will be shining on the freshman.
Purdue will win if: The break and adjustments yield significant strides on both sides of the ball; and the Boilermakers manage to rattle Nebraska, playing its first road game of the season, particularly with redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. starting at quarterback for the third straight week with Taylor Martinez (turf toe) sidelined.
Nebraska will win if: The Cornhuskers establish their running game; and continue to come out ahead in turnover margin (they are tied for No. 1 in the conference at plus-five, including 12 takeaways).
Prediction: Nebraska 38, Purdue 24
Staff writer Michael Osipoff