In spite of senior quarterback Taylor Martinez being sidelined consecutive weeks for a turf toe injury, the Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-1) have put up 98 points in his absence, going 2-0 with backup Tommy Armstrong Jr. under center.
While this bodes well for the Huskers and gives a glimpse of what the future could be like, it doesn’t exactly mean they’re back on track. The Huskers had their first five games at home this season, and this weekend’s matchup against Purdue is their first road test of the season, albeit the 1-4 Boilermakers shouldn’t prove too challenging.
Armstrong is expected to start for the third straight game, but this is his first ever road game, which can be tough on a young quarterback. Granted, it’s not a hostile environment and there will be a lot of red in the stands, but it’s something that should be taken into account. Of course, there shouldn’t be too much concern considering Purdue ranks 112th national in scoring defense.
This game probably won’t be close, as this will be the worst offense Nebraska has seen all year. It should provide the young Husker defense a nice confidence boost heading into their second bye week. The defense is steadily improving, and hopefully learning from its early-season mistakes against UCLA and South Dakota State. If the Huskers stumble defensively in this game, that would certainly be cause for worry, as the Boilermakers only average 17 points per game and also have a young quarterback who is only starting his second career game.
Offensively, Ameer Abdullah, Imani Cross and the rest of the 8th best rushing attack in the nation will run all over Purdue, which should give the defense plenty of breathing room should they be unable to keep Purdue’s offense in check. Even if the Boilermakers find a way to score points, I highly doubt they’ll be able to outscore the Huskers in a shootout. Abdullah is coming off of the best rushing performance of his career, and behind that experienced offensive line, it’s reasonable to think he can do just as well against an even worse defense than Illinois’.
I think Nebraska jumps out to an early lead with some quick scores on offense, and makes some big plays on defense to keep Purdue from staying competitive. The defense will take a huge step in not allowing big scoring plays and keep Purdue’s offense under wraps as the Huskers pick up their fifth win of the season in a blowout.
Prediction: Nebraska 45, Purdue 13