I really thought writing this piece would be pretty difficult; I mean, writing five reasons PURDUE will beat Nebraska, not a chance. After looking a bit deeper into this Purdue team it's not hard to conclude they actually pose a pretty legitimate threat to the Huskers. I am not saying I expect Nebraska to lose, but don't expect the Huskers to pull off another 44-7 victory like last year. Without further delay, here are the five reasons Purdue will beat Nebraska. (I will be sleeping with one eye open the rest of the week.)
Purdue has competed with good teams all season
Look at how Purdue has played tough opponents this season. They are no longer the doormat they once were. They put a legitimate scare in Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan State, and Notre Dame. Versus Notre Dame, Purdue was ahead 14-10 in the second quarter, and down just 17-14 at half time. All right, so they competed for a half versus a top ten team.
Versus Michigan State they were down 24-17 at half and were down just seven points with less than three minutes left in the game. A pick six prevented Purdue from tying the game up and helped MSU to a 14-point victory.
Move on to Minnesota and you'll see that Purdue should have won that game. At half Purdue was up 31-20 but could not hold off the Gophers, who kicked a game winning field goal with 4:59 left in the game.
Last there is Iowa. Purdue was tied at half 10-10 and was poised to pull the upset.
Once more in the second half, Purdue fell apart on offense. Iowa would score 14 straight and win 24-10.
Purdue is not the terrible team we saw last season. They will score points, and they will stick around for longer than most people think. I would expect Nebraska to take down Purdue with relative ease, but they have the talent to shock Nebraska if the Huskers are overlooking the Boilermakers.
Coming off of a bye week
Purdue has been in a tough stretch of games, with their last four opponents having a combined record of 22-9. The bye week was much needed for a team that has been apart of several close games in a row. Not only will Purdue be healthy, but their running backs will be fresh.
To call Purdue's running backs fast would be an injustice. They have blazing speed, and coming off of this bye week is huge for both Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert. Purdue also has had another week to scheme against the Nebraska offense and defense. If Purdue comes into Saturday with a solid game plan and fresh bodies then I would not be surprised to see this game very close at half time, and if Purdue can stick around much longer than that, you start thinking about an upset.
Good Rushing Attack
I mentioned the two speedsters on Purdue in Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert. Against a relatively good Minnesota defense the Purdue ground game tallied 298 yards on 35 carries, averaging 8.5 yards per carry. Hunt, the starter, is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and has 640 yards on the ground this season. Backup Mostert is averaging over six yards per carry and has nearly 500 yards on the season.
Those two have been a very dangerous duo, now add Austin Appleby, who has recently showed the ability to make plays on the ground, and you have a potential nightmare match up for the Husker defense.
Purdue was committed to Danny Etling at quarterback early in the season, but recently Austin Appleby has separated himself from Etling. Appleby has played very well in his first few starts, and could pose a problem for the Husker defense.
Against Illinois he was 15-20 for 202 yards and a touchdown, and he added 76 rushing yards on seven carries. Versus Michigan State he was 24-37 for 211 yards a touchdown and an interception. Finally, versus Minnesota he completed 16-26 for 153 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also had 70 rushing yards on ten carries versus the Gophers.
When given time Appleby is a very impressive quarterback. Not only has he shown the ability to make plays downfield with his arm, but he can also make things happen with his feet, which Nebraska has not seen since... McNeese State. If Appleby gets time to make plays he will hurt the Nebraska defense, and possibly pull off the biggest Purdue win in recent history.
This is Nebraska's last chance to blow a game everyone thinks they should win
I'll have to thank my colleagues on this one, as they pointed it out to me. This is Nebraska's last chance to throw away what should be an easy win, at home. It has been the theme of the Pelini tenure. There is always one game that Nebraska should handle with relative ease, but for some reason can't get the job done.
If there is going to be a major let down game, this is it. The Huskers may have already survived one letdown game in McNeese State, but if Nebraska plays like that against Purdue, expect Purdue to compete and possibly beat the Huskers.
I don't see Purdue winning, but I also don't see the Huskers covering the 23.5 point spread. Purdue has too many playmakers to have Nebraska blow them out. Not only that, but we have seen the Huskers take their foot off of the gas when they get up by 17 plus points.
At the end of the day, it will be a big day for the Husker offense, and the same story on defense. Nebraska will give up a big play or two just as they did last week, and Purdue will probably stick around for the first half. Come the second half the Huskers SHOULD pull away.