LINCOLN, Neb. – Despite the large gap between the two teams historically, Indiana and Nebraska share more similarities than either program may want to admit halfway through the 2019 season. A pair of Big Ten programs dealing with injured starting quarterbacks attempt to better their win totals from the last two years on Saturday when the Hoosiers visit the Cornhuskers for only the second time since the latter joined the conference in 2011.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Indiana -1.
Indiana recorded a pair of 5-7 finishes in its first two seasons under Tom Allen but is off to its best seven-game start (5-2) since 2007 after pulling off a 34-28 win at Maryland last weekend. Former starting quarterback Peyton Ramsey took over for injured freshman Michael Penix Jr. early in the second quarter against the Terrapins, finishing 20-of-27 for 193 yards and a touchdown. Coming off consecutive 4-8 campaigns, four-win Nebraska could not have asked for a much better time to get a week off after entering its Oct. 12 game at No. 16 Minnesota without starting quarterback Adrian Martinez (knee) and leaving the 34-7 loss without dynamic freshman receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (foot, ankle). While the Cornhuskers could be getting Martinez back for this contest, they will be without running back Maurice Washington, who was suspended indefinitely due to an unspecified team rules violation.
ABOUT INDIANA (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten)
Penix (undisclosed), who spent most of the season directing the conference's second-ranked total offense, is expected to be a game-time decision; after the Maryland contest, Allen only stated, "I'm not sure what next week holds, but I don't think (the injury) is a long term thing." Stevie Scott III has rushed for 12 touchdowns over his last 12 games and is averaging 108.8 yards over the last four contests after running for 39.3 in his first three games. Junior Whop Philyor was held to season lows of two receptions and six receiving yards against Maryland but still ranks second in the Big Ten with 43 catches and sixth with 559 receiving yards - 343 of which have come after contact per Pro Football Focus.
ABOUT NEBRASKA (4-3, 2-2)
Frost only offered a "hard to say" when asked about Martinez's status for Indiana; Noah Vedral made his first career start against the Golden Gophers in near-freezing temperatures and predictably struggled before leaving with an apparent left leg injury of his own. Robinson (team-high marks of 27 catches and 550 yards from scrimmage) is also a question mark after he left in the second quarter with an apparent left ankle injury. The Cornhuskers did get some positive injury news during their bye, as sophomore kicker Barret Pickering was able to take part in practice recently; three players have combined to miss two extra points and six of the team's 10 field-goal attempts in his absence.
1. Nebraska, which has not hosted Indiana since 1977, won 27-22 in the teams' only meeting since becoming conference rivals in 2016.
2. The Hoosiers are one of four teams nationally to post at least two shutouts.
3. Despite being limited to a total of 85 yards over his last three games, Cornhuskers WR JD Spielman ranks fourth among active players in career receiving yards per game (75.6).
PREDICTION: Nebraska 31, Indiana 27