Nebraska vs. Purdue preview: Huskers look for their first win

(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) /

It’s been a tough week for Nebraska football and Scott Frost as they look to get their first win before the end of September.

Scott Frost just can’t win. We know that Nebraska football has started 0-3 and is in the midst of a seven-game losing streak stretching over two seasons, but Frost can’t catch a break online either.

After being shellacked 56-10 by Michigan, his two-year-old comments about outhitting Michigan have been brought up, he’s taking flak for calling Purdue “a game we can win“, and even Wendy’s joined in on Saturday’s pile-on.

Speaking of the Purdue comments, fans are so quick to complain about “coach-speak”, the phenomenon of coaches talking about games and opponents in vague platitudes that mean nothing. Frost did the opposite of coach-speak at his conference where he addressed Purdue, he put it all out on the table that he thinks the Huskers can leave Memorial Stadium with a win on Saturday. If not that, what of substance was he supposed to say, then? He’s certainly not going to tell a group of reporters “yeah, my guys are trash, Boilers by 30.”

It’s in this context that Jeff Brohm’s team comes into Lincoln to face a Huskers team that is varying degrees of frustrated, depending on how deep the Riley culture of apathy settled in.

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The main area of improvement from the Michigan game, once you disregard things like yards gained where the Wolverines are simply the better team and outclassed the Huskers, is penalties. Nebraska was penalized ten times for 79 yards, a mark that must be improved on to stay competitive in, again, a game this team can win.

Nebraska couldn’t beat Michigan even if they’d come into Ann Arbor 2-0, so perhaps the penalties, or even statistics in general, are immaterial. But that number, tracking the mistakes the team made, will not cut it against Purdue.

Purdue’s star is receiver Rondale Moore. On the season, Moore has 33 receptions for 372 yards, averaging a first down a carry. One extra “yikes” factor: he also has 132 yards rushing off only six carries.

Quarterback David Blough went 21/28 for 296 yards and three touchdowns in Purdue’s upset of 23rd-ranked Boston College last week.

Much has been made of Purdue taking down the Eagles last Saturday. BC fell out of the rankings after the loss, but did they really deserve to be there in the first place? They were undefeated coming into the Purdue game, but those three wins were Massachusetts, FCS Holy Cross, and Wake Forest.

I’m thinking people who tell you to be wary of Purdue after their win over BC are blinded by that #23 ranking. They had an impressive win at home against an AP bubble team, but they, too, have lost to Group of 5 opposition, falling to Eastern Michigan. Looking at it from a schedule standpoint, this game is closer than people give the Huskers credit for.

Nebraska’s 74th ranked defense will still have to be stout to stop the Blough-Moore connection, but this game isn’t the lost cause many in the rock bottom camp say it is. I won’t predict a win, but it won’t shock me either.

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As Frost said after dispelling rumors about Maurice Washington’s fitness for Saturday: “Not everything is newsworthy or a disaster.” Now we’ll see if the Nebraska football team can turn things around.