With their non-conference schedule behind them, the No. 9-ranked Huskers turn their attention to their Big Ten road.
Nebraska starts its conference season at home against No. 15 Purdue tonight. The Boilermakers are 6-1 on the year in duals with their lone loss a 23-13 defeat against No. 13 Iowa State. Nebraska is 3-0 in duals this year with a 27-6 win over then-No. 15 North Carolina.
The Boilermakers are a tough Big Ten team as they feature six ranked wrestlers, led by Devin Schroder at 125 pounds and Kendall Coleman at 157. Bot are currently ranked No. 9 in the country at their weights.
How to Watch
Nebraska hosts Purdue tonight at 7 p.m. at the Devaney Center with the dual streaming on BTN+ (subscription required).
*Individual rankings according to FloWrestling
In what may be the match where Nebraska is least favored, Purdue sends out arguably its best wrestler in Devin Schroder. The senior is 11-1 on the year with his only loss to No. 4 Pat Glory of Princeton. Schroder puts up numbers too, as he’s won five matches this year by technical fall (win by 15 or more, the match is ended) and three by major decision (win by between 8 and 14).
It’s not likely that Nebraska sends out No. 23 Liam Cronin, as the senior has been dealing with an injury. Nebraska will wrestle freshman Jeremiah Reno. The big-time young talent has struggled at times this year with a 3-5 record but has shown some promise. However, Schroder will probably be way too much for the youngster. Welcome to the Big Ten. Nebraska’s chances: 5%
This is another weight where it’s not exactly sure who will be out there for Nebraska. The Huskers have options between sophomore Alex Thomsen and junior Boo Dryden. Dryden is currently in redshirt, but he’s undefeated on the year while Thomsen has struggled to a 2-3 start to the year.
Thomsen will likely get the nod, and he’ll have his hands full against freshman Matt Ramos of Purdue. Ramos is 10-3 on the year with a perfect 7-0 record in duals. Ramos hasn’t faced the stiffest of competition so far, so the jury’s still out on him. Thomsen should be able to keep this match close. Nebraska’s chances: 30%
Nebraska’s No. 10-ranked Chad Red Jr. is 6-2 on the year after finishing third at the Cliff Keen Invitational.
Purdue has No. 18 Parker Filius here. The senior is 14-5 on the year. After starting the season 9-0, Filius lost three straight, including losses by fall to both Cole Mattin of Michigan and No. 13 Grant Willits of Oregon State. Red defeated both Mattin and Willits at CKLV.
With Red’s pedigree as an All-American and the fact he’s beaten guys who then beat Filius, I like Red’s chances here. Nebraska’s chances: 70%
Nebraska will be heavily favored here. The Huskers have No. 5 Ridge Lovett, who is 10-3 on the year with some impressive wins and one very impressive overtime loss to No. 1 Yianni Diakomihalis.
Purdue will likely send out Trey Kruse. The sophomore is 2-8 on the year and is riding a seven-match skid. And he’s yet to face anyone like Lovett. Ouch. Nebraska’s chances: 99%
In the match of the night, Nebraska’s No. 7 Peyton Robb will take on Purdue’s No. 9 Kendall Coleman.
Robb is 7-3 on the year with one of those losses coming via medical forfeit. His other losses were an overtime loss to No. 1 David Carr of Iowa State and an 11-6 loss to No. 5 Quincy Monday. Robb also knocked off 2021 NCAA Champ Austin O’Connor 5-2 in a dual against North Carolina.
Coleman, on the other hand, is 9-3 on the year. After dropping his first match to an unranked foe, Coleman won seven straight before being pinned in back-to-back matches by No. 1 Carr and No. 2 Ryan Deakin of Northwestern. Carr and Deakin have really separated themselves from the field at 157 so far this season.
This match should be a tight one, but Robb has been stingier to score on this year and should grind out a defensive win. Nebraska’s chances: 55%
In a matchup of unranked wrestlers, Nebraska’s Bubba Wilson will likely face Purdue’s Hayden Lohrey.
Wilson is 7-6 on the year after finishing eighth at CKLV. The redshirt freshman has been improving since the beginning of the year and has shown some real toughness in both wins and losses.
Lohrey is a sophomore and is 6-2 on the year. He hasn’t faced a ranked opponent all season, but he did get a 5-3 win against Iowa State’s Austin Kraisser last time out. Nebraska’s chances: 55%
Nebraska will send out No. 5 Mikey Labriola to the mat to face No. 19 Gerrit Nijenhuis. Labriola has been perfect this season with a 10-0 record and a CKLV Title while going 4-0 against ranked opponents.
The sophomore Boilermaker is 11-8 on the year and hasn’t done so well against ranked foes, going 1-5 so far, including a 14-6 major decision loss to Ohio State’s Ethan Smith. Labriola beat then-No. 6 Smith in sudden victory to win in the CKLV final.
Nijenhuis is good, but Labriola has been on a tear. He went a combined 27-2 in the year 2021. I think 2022 is going to look good for Labs too. Nebraska’s chances: 90%
In another ranked matchup, Nebraska’s No. 9 Taylor Venz will face No. 23 Max Lyon of Purdue. Venz is 10-2 on the year, while Lyon holds an 8-5 record.
As we look at common opponents this season, Lyon lost to both No. 14 Jonathan Loew of Cornell and No. 8 Marcus Coleman of Iowa State. Both losses were by decision. Venz also fell to Coleman by decision but he did absolutely obliterate Loew 16-1 via tech fall.
These two do have a history, as Venz is 3-0 against Lyon in his career. Always tough defensively, Lyon has held Venz to a decision all three times, but the Husker seems to have his number. Nebraska’s chances: 75%
The back end of this dual is going to be fireworks, as we’ll see our third-straight matchup between ranked wrestlers. Nebraska’s No. 6 Eric Schultz will take on Purdue’s No. 13 Thomas Penola. In a close second for match of the dual, Schultz takes a 6-1 record into the dual while Penola is already 13-2 on the year.
Schultz won his first six matches, including decision wins over No. 6 Jake Woodley and No. 11 Lou Deprez, before falling to No. 9 Stephen Buchanan of Wyoming in the CKLV finals.
Penola has put together an impressive season as well. He also has decision wins over Woodley and Deprez, but he’s coming off a loss to No. 12 Yonger Bastida. Bastida is 8-1 on the season with his only loss via pinfall to Nebraska’s Silas Allred at the Daktronics Open. Allred is Schultz’s backup who’s in redshirt.
This match will be a close one, as Penola and Schultz are both used to controlled low-scoring affairs. It may come down to who can get the lone takedown. Nebraska’s chances: 60%
Nebraska’s No. 11 Christian Lance is going to have his hands full against Purdue’s Michael Woulfe. Lance is 10-1 on the year and has been very impressive in his final season, but so has Woulfe with his 11-6 record.
Lance is fresh off beating then-No. 6 Tate Orndorff of Ohio State, while Woulfe has six wins via pinfall. Woulfe hasn’t been great against ranked opponents though, going 0-3 so far this year.
Lance should keep things rolling in this one. Nebraska’s chances: 70%
This dual could go a lot of different ways, as I see four of the first six matches going either way, but the Huskers are clearly the favorite in the final four matches.
Nebraska’s depth throughout the lineup, especially on the back end, should be enough to overcome not having Cronin in at 125. I’ll be most interested in seeing Robb and Schultz against some salty opponents.
Score Prediction: 27-8 Nebraska victory