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October 12, 2013

Purdue keys to victory and HOL staff predictions

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Nebraska will take the road today for the first time this season when the Huskers face Purdue.

The Boilermakers are in year one with head coach Darrell Hazell and have had their ups and downs. Coming off a bye week, Purdue will start true freshman Danny Etling at quarterback.

The Huskers will once again start redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong under center. As things get closer to kickoff, here are today's keys to victory for Nebraska over Purdue. NU enters today's game as a 14 point favorite.

Pressure and confuse Etling

With a true freshman making his first start at quarterback, Nebraska's defensive coaches need to get after him early. They need to confuse Etling with pre-snap reads and come at him with different pressure packages.

Coming into today the Boilermakers have already had three interceptions returned on them for touchdowns. There should be some opportunities for NU's secondary to make a few interceptions and rattle Etling early.

Keep it simple on offense

Offensive coordinator Tim Beck for the second week in a row has slimmed down his playbook to roughly 20 base calls.

I think this will once again make it easier for both Armstrong and Ron Kellogg to have success. Armstrong particularly has thrived when Beck has kept things simple. I expect to see a similarly called game today.

Don't give Purdue any short fields

The one way Purdue can really make this an interesting game is if the Huskers give them short fields off special teams miscues or turnovers.

Obviously NU needs to limit their turnovers and mistakes, but they also need a strong day from their specials teams. Punter Sam Foltz needs to pin the Boilermakers inside the 20 when he can, to make them earn their points and yards.

Run for at least 250

Last week I said NU would run for 300 yards against Illinois. I think they can do it again today, but realistically 250 yards is probably the magic number.

If the Huskers can once again lean on the offensive line and dominate the line of scrimmage up front it will be hard for them to get beat today in West Lafayette.

Quiet the crowd early

I don't expect to see a very hostile crowd today in Ross-Ade Stadium. The 11 am start, along with Purdue's 1-4 record has taken away a lot of buzz from this match-up amongst Boilermaker faithful.

If NU can jump out early and quiet the crowd, it should really take off the pressure from both Armstrong and NU's defense.

Callahan's weekly predictions

A true freshman quarterback making his first start with an offense around him that doesn't have much is the perfect recipe for Nebraska's defense. The only way I see Purdue making this game close is if their defense can create turnovers and limit NU's ground game to under 200 yards. With that said, I like the Huskers to get a big road win heading into the bye.

Nebraska 41 Purdue 13
Wisconsin 41 Northwestern 27
Penn State 23 Michigan 20
Michigan State 27 Indiana 13
Oklahoma 38 Texas 30
Oregon 52 Washington 34

Season Record: 21-9 overall; 17-13 vs. points

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