Let BowlQuest 2021 begin in earnest for Nebraska. Sure, it has been going on since the Huskers played the very first football game of this season. And, yes, it would be much easier if Nebraska had gotten a little more of its work done early.
But, here we are. Fresh off a bye week, four games left against Boilermakers, Buckeyes, Badgers and Hawkeyes (really spoiling the poetic device here, Iowa) and Nebraska needs to win three of those. The chances of getting to six wins are not great––about 3-1 against––despite Nebraska being, all things considered, a pretty good team. Fail to beat the Boilermakers, and those slim chances plummet. Them’s the stakes on Saturday.
Purdue is also pretty good in the same that it can be tough to suss out just who is in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers have wins over Iowa and Oregon State. The losses came to Notre Dame, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Purdue still throws the ball more than any other team in the conference, but unlike past iterations it has a defense now.
Nebraska will need to prepared to hold up against the passing game––which includes just about every variation in the book––and will also have to find a way to crack a Purdue defense that’s pretty sound so far against the run and pass.
Perhaps most important, however, is for Nebraska to shake its Nebraska-ness. I spent most of the bye week trying to understand the regular rhythm of a Huskers game under Scott Frost and staff. It was harder to find than I anticipated, but while trying out different theories some interesting trends emerged with a look at Expected Points Added based on quarter and game state.
That’s a big piece of this week’s I-80 Preview and on the show I promised a chart. You can find it below. The different tabs show Nebraska’s EPA by quarter compared to the national average, then those same numbers if a team is leading or trailing.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.