Nebraska Cornhuskers running back Jaquez Yant (0)
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Huskers Open as a Double-Digit Underdog at Purdue

October 09, 2022

First place in the Big Ten West––at least a continued share of it––is on the line this Saturday as Nebraska (3-3, 2-1) heads to West Lafayette, Indiana, to face Purdue (4-2, 2-1). The two teams enter the week tied atop the division with Illinois, which beat Iowa 9-6 Saturday to move to 5-1.

Circa Sports opened the game with the Boilermakers as a 11-point favorite on Sunday afternoon. It’s the second game this season as an underdog on the opening line for the Huskers (Oklahoma). The opening total was 63.5 points.

Nebraska got to .500 on the season with a 14-13 win at Rutgers on Friday. The Scarlet Knights had more yards and a better per-play average, but three second-half interceptions spurred the Huskers to the win, its first by single digits in 11 tries dating back to 2020.

ESPN’s Football Power Index dropped Nebraska two spots to 76th overall after the win, and its rating (-1.9) dropped a half-point.

Purdue also recorded a close win over the weekend, beating Maryland 31-29 on the road. The Boilermakers rushed for just 44 yards on 29 attempts, not including five sacks and the 31 yards lost that way. The Terrapins out-yarded Purdue and were +2 in turnovers but missed a long field goal near the start of the fourth quarter. Maryland’s two-point try with 35 seconds left, to tie the game, came up short. Purdue went 5-for-5 in the red zone, scoring four touchdowns.

The Boilermakers jumped seven spots to 22nd in the FPI rankings this week with a rating of 9.7. Using a 2.5-point home-field advantage, the FPI ratings would put the line for Saturday’s game at Purdue -14.1. Purdue is 3-3 against the spread this season, and 36-27-0 (.571) under head coach Jeff Brohm. Four of Purdue’s six games this season have been decided by four points or less. The Boilermakers lost 35-31 to Penn State and 32-29 to Syracuse and have a pair of two-point wins over Florida Atlantic and Maryland.

Offensively, the two teams are producing points at nearly the same rate. Purdue averages .370 points per play (75th), Nebraska .344 (85th). The defenses are also preventing points, so to speak, at a similar clip––.387 for Purdue (68th), .399 for Nebraska (79th).

Nebraska kicks off against Purdue at 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten:

Minnesota (4-1, 1-1) at Illinois (5-1, 2-1) +4: Coming off a bye, the Gophers will look to say among the ranks of the one-loss teams in the West. Illinois gets its own off week after this one before facing Nebraska, also coming off a bye, in Lincoln on Oct. 29.

Penn State (5-0, 2-0) at Michigan (6-0, 3-0) -7: With the West Division being basically a casserole made of middle-shelf ingredients at the moment, this East clash of unbeaten is probably the second-biggest game of year in the conference. The Nittany Lions get the benefit of rest, having a bye last week, while Michigan had to slow-cook Indiana for a 31-10 win. The Wolverines are playing for the seventh consecutive week.

Maryland (4-2, 1-2) at Indiana (3-3, 1-2) +10: This looks, for now, like a battle for the designation of fourth-best in the East and the gap between the Terrapins and Hoosiers might be sizable in favor of the turtles.

Wisconsin (3-3, 1-2) at Michigan State (2-4, 0-3) +4: The Badgers earned their first Big Ten win of the season in Jim Leonhard’s debut as interim head coach, beating Northwestern 42-7 in Madison. The Spirants dropped their fourth straight game, losing 49-20 to Ohio State in East Lansing.

Off: Iowa, Northwester, Ohio State, Rutgers

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