One of the things that Nebraska fans are going to need to adjust to this season is a whole new set of opponents. New opponents, new stadiums, new traditions. Nebraska fans anxiously await games at Wisconsin and at Michigan this season, for good reason. The Fifth Quarter, at night, in the land of cheese and beer, against an opponent who's uniforms pretty much look like our own. The Big House, where Bob Devaney got the attention of the college football world (and fans in this state) when the Huskers upset the Weasels 49 years ago, is also a can't wait event. We also await Ohio State in the first Big Ten game in Lincoln, and wonder just who'll be on the Buckeyes' plane once the NCAA unloads on Jim Tressel and company.
But in looking over Nebraska's history with the Big Ten, I found an interesting result: Nebraska has never beaten Purdue. The Huskers have never beaten Ohio State either, but the Buckeyes are at least a traditional power. Purdue? It's akin to have never beaten Iowa State or Baylor. Of course, the real reason is that the teams have only played once: in 1958. And all you need to know is that in 1958, Nebraska was coached by Bill Jennings, and history has shown that like with Bill Callahan, Nebraska was awful when coached by a Bill.The Cornhusker, the school yearbook, describes that single meeting thusly:
"An undermanned Husker crew fell to a powerful Purdue squad 28-0 at Lafayette, Indiana.
A bevy of fast backfield runners and massive linemen combined of overrun Nebraska. The Huskers performed well on defense in the first half but could not mount an offensive threat. Two fumbles and an interception proved to be costly mistakes for the battling Huskers."
That Husker squad finished 3-7 in 1958. Nebraska needs to wait until October 12, 2013 - a wait of 55 years - for the rematch. Previewing that matchup now is way premature. Taylor Martinez would likely be a senior, and figuring out the rest the lineup is pure speculation. (Heck, nobody really could say whether Martinez will still be the quarterback at that point!)
Purdue is best known in football as the cradle of quarterbacks; amongst it's alumni are Bob Griese, Drew Brees, and Kyle Orton. Orton grew up a Husker fan in Altoona, Iowa, and wore jersey number 18 in high school and college as a tribute to Brook Berringer.
Purdue hasn't been to a bowl game since 2007, and in the recent spring game, the focus seemed to be more on the new "Purdue Pete" mascot. A redesign that only Steve Pederson could appreciate was attempted. Unlike Pederson, Purdue's athletic department immediately reversed course and restored the deposed mascot back into service for this fall's games.
A lot can change in two years, so no reason to focus too much on the game at this point. Lots of battles still to face prior to that, but there is something to keep in mind for 2013 once the newness of the Big Ten begins to wane. Revenge for 1958.