Nebraska is a heavy favorite in this week's matchup versus Purdue. The Huskers have more talent, better coaching, and are playing at home.
The Huskers should take care of business against an inferior team and here's our five reasons as to why.
Purdue's poor defense
The Huskers have one of the most dynamic ground games and most effective play-action passing games in the country. When you look at the matchup versus this Purdue defense, it looks like it could be a huge game for the entire Husker offensive unit.
Purdue is 81st in rush defense, giving up 176.14 yards per game, 85th in opponent yards per carry at 4.56; they've given up 16 rushing touchdowns which is good for 97th nationally, and they are 93rd in passing defense.
There are not a lot of positives on this Purdue defense, and I would fully expect the Husker offense to pick them apart. Ameer Abdullah should go for 200 plus (is that a prediction anymore or more of a statement?) and three touchdowns and Tommy Armstrong Jr throws for 195 and a touchdown as Nebraska rolls Purdue.
Nebraska is looking to rebound after a sloppy game
The Husker staff and players were less than thrilled after what was a relatively easy victory over Rutgers; a game in which two records were broken. In the post game press conference, every player who was interviewed said it was a sloppy game and that they weren't happy about the performance.
Kenny Bell even went on to compare it to the Wyoming game last season. That comparison is very telling as to how improved this team is over teams in the past. In a sloppy game last season, Nebraska barley beat a bad Wyoming team. Fast forward to this season and in a sloppy game Nebraska beats Rutgers handily.
Last season there were not a whole lot of improvements between the sloppy games for Nebraska. After the Wyoming game the Huskers continued to have the same issues throughout the season (Iowa, MSU, Minnesota).
After the McNeese State game, Nebraska came out and dominated their opponent. The improvements since then have been fairly impressive, to the point where Nebraska beat a decent team by 18 points while not playing their best. I would fully expect Nebraska to come out extremely focused and ready for the task at hand, which does not bode well for Purdue.
Who will stop the defensive line?
Originally I had this titled "Who will stop Randy Gregory", but that was unfair to the rest of the defensive line; a line which has performed outstanding this season.
Nebraska's rushing defense has cracked the top 30 and continues to improve. The Huskers have 18 sacks on the season, which is pretty impressive considering the injuries that have kept a few guys from playing full games.
If Nebraska can get to Purdue starting quarterback Austin Appleby and not allow him to break contain, then the Purdue offense will have as difficult a time getting things started as their defense will slowing down Abdullah.
Purdue is -3 in Turnover Margin
Purdue ranks 93rd in the country in turnover margin, sitting at -3. They don't necessarily turn the ball over a crazy amount, but they struggle to force turnovers on defense. They rank 85th in total turnovers forced, with just 10 on the season. If Purdue can't force a turnover or two versus Nebraska then the game could get out of hand very quickly.
Purdue's offense is still finding an identity
Purdue has taken a huge leap forward on offense since Appleby took over, as I referenced in the "Five Reasons The Huskers Will Lose" article published earlier today, but they are still trying to figure out exactly who they are. They have a talented quarterback, and two impressive running backs. Rushing wise, they are 50th in the country, compared to 102nd nationally passing.
Purdue tends to get pass happy (remind you of anyone) when they fall behind by more than seven points, so if the Huskers can get an early lead and force the Purdue offense to make plays in the passing game, I would not be surprised to see Nebraska with a large lead at half.
This game has some qualities of a possible upset, but after a rough week last week I would fully expect Nebraska to come out and dominate. Look for the Huskers to rely on the running game, and work in a deep play action pass or two in the first quarter. I expect this one to be put away early in the third quarter, and a comfortable win for the Huskers.