Big Ten College Football Saturday Picks: Nebraska Huskers at Purdue Boilermakers

Nebraska is 4-4 SU on the season.

Nebraska at Purdue

Time: 11 AM CST (FOX)

Spread: NEB -3

Total: 58

Odds c/o 5dimes

Nebraska fell to 4-4 on the season after consecutive losses to Minnesota and Indiana. It will try to turn things around on the road at Purdue. The Huskies have not won on the road since Week 4 when it defeated Illinois, but Nebraska finds itself 3-point favorites at Purdue, in a game with an over/under set at 58 points. It will kick off at 11 AM (CST) on FOX.


Nebraska’s defense has not been good. It gave up 38 points to Indiana last week and 34 in a 7-34 loss to Minnesota. The last good defensive stand came in its 13-10 victory over Northwestern, but the week before that it lost 7-48 to Ohio State. The Cornhuskers are giving up 28.9 points per game this season, while it averages just 26.3 itself (tied-No. 85). Nebraska’s rush attack is good, ranking No. 41 in generating 193.6 yards per game, but it manages just 219.8 via the pass, ranking No. 80.

Nebraska’s rush efforts, still, have been highlighted by two strong running backs and the effort of quarterback Adrian Martinez. Martinez ranks No. 2 in rushing yards (341), No. 1 in attempts (85) and is second on the team in touchdowns with three. Lead backfield performer Dedrick Mills averages 4.5 yards-per-carry on his 84 attempts for 380 yards and seven touchdowns. Maurice Washington and Wan’Dale Robinson round out the top rushers with 298 and 297 yards, respectively, to their credit.

Nebraska’s top two receivers have been JD Spielman and Robinson. Spielman has 29 catches for a team-best 566 receiving yards and a touchdown, while Robinson leads the team in catches with 33, for 407 yards and two touchdowns. Nebraska has scored eight TDs via the pass, with its other 17 touchdowns coming from the rushing efforts. Nebraska has used four placekickers this year with them combining to hit just 5 of 12 field goals, including two misses from within 30 and four misses from inside the 40. That is an unreliable source of scoring.


Purdue is 2-6 and in 6th place in the Big Ten. It has lost two straight entering this matchup, having fallen to No. 23 Iowa and Illinois the past two weeks. Purdue won at home three weeks ago against Maryland, and the Boilermakers are 2-3 at home SU this season.

Purdue’s pass offense has been excellent, but it gets precious little from the rush. The Boilermakers rank No. 18 nationally in passing yards with 301.3 per game, but it gets just 68.6 yards per game via the rush, ranking No. 129. The offense overall, too, is not good. Purdue averages 24.0 points per game, but it surrenders 28.6, giving a negative-4.6 point differential.

Starting quarterback Jake Plummer has had his struggles. Elijah Sindelar has done somewhat better, but he has not played since Sept 28 and is doubtful to return this season. That leaves Plummer, who is both less versatile and less accurate, to guide this football team. Plummer has completed just 57.5 percent of his passes and has six interceptions and 18 sacks for 140 lost yards. Sindelar was good for 64 percent passing with a 9-to-3, TD/INT ratio.

The backfield has been downright pitiful, and Plummer is no help. He has rushed 50 times for a total of five negative yards. The team averages just 2.4 yards-per-attempt, with leading rusher King Doerue good for just 3.1 per on his 92 attempts. Doerue has scored three of the team’s four rushing touchdowns, too. The other, of course, came from the injuries Sindelar.

David Bell leads all receivers in catches (44), yards (653), and touchdowns (4). The Boilermakers have scored 19 passing touchdowns with 10 different receivers accounting for that scoring. Expect Purdue to stay in this one, though it will have to be careful not to commit many miscues as slight underdogs that will need a number of big stops on a tough Nebraska offense.

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