WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Football can often be a war of attrition when it comes to keeping players on the field, and no two Big Ten teams have experienced more bad injury luck to key offensive personnel as Nebraska and Purdue in 2019. The Cornhuskers attempt to keep their postseason aspirations alive Saturday when they hit the road to face a desperate Boilermakers team that must win out in order to qualify for a bowl game.
TV: Noon ET, FOX. LINE: Nebraska -3.
Nebraska, which has been without starting quarterback Adrian Martinez for the last two games with a left knee injury, was forced to turn to its third-string signal-caller (Luke McCaffrey) in last weekend's 38-31 loss to Indiana after backup Noah Vedral was forced to miss significant time after suffering a second-quarter left leg injury. Martinez was a game-time decision against the Hoosiers and told reporters Tuesday he expects to return this week as the Cornhuskers try to nail down one of the two wins they need over their final four contests in order to be bowl-eligible. Purdue senior quarterback Elijah Sindelar (collarbone) and 2018 All-American receiver Rondale Moore (hamstring) started out the season red-hot but have been sidelined for over a month, leaving Purdue in a tough spot since they suffered their injuries four games ago. "When it comes to where we are at in the injury front, it’s probably better for me to wait toward the end of the week and tell you where we are at,” coach Jeff Brohm told reporters Tuesday in regards to Moore and several other of his players.
ABOUT NEBRASKA (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten)
Martinez, who was able to practice a bit last week and went through all of the team’s warmups before the game, told local media Tuesday that he was “ready to be back” and “fired up” to play against Purdue. With Maurice Washington serving an indefinite suspension, versatile 190-pound true freshman Wan’Dale Robinson (team-leading 33 receptions) has replaced him as the team’s big-play threat out of the backfield, totaling 154 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on 28 touches versus the Hoosiers. JD Spielman has 29 catches and 566 receiving yards so far, leaving him 21 receptions and 234 yards shy of becoming the first player in school history to top 50 catches or 800 receiving yards in three seasons.
ABOUT PURDUE (2-6, 1-4)
A few days after stating he would hold an open competition at quarterback, Brohm announced Monday he will stick with Jack Plummer against Nebraska after the freshman was removed from the Illinois game twice due to turnovers. Prior to managing only 18 yards on five receptions versus the Illini, David Bell earned back-to-back Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors after totaling 22 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns over his previous two contests. Freshman defensive end George Karlaftis, who has recorded at least one sack in five of his last six games, ranks second in the Big Ten in tackles for loss (12.5) and tied for fifth in sacks (six).
1. Nebraska and Purdue have each committed a Big Ten-high 16 turnovers.
2. The Boilermakers have totaled 14 touchdowns in their last six games; their freshman class has accounted for 12 of those scores.
3. Robinson's 407 receiving yards and 33 receptions are the most ever by a Nebraska true freshman, and he ranks second nationally among all freshmen in all-purpose yards (111.5 per game).
PREDICTION: Nebraska 34, Purdue 20