College Football Odds & Picks for Nebraska vs. Purdue: Saturday’s Betting Value on Boilermakers
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Rondale Moore.
- Two struggling Big Ten teams meet in West Lafayette on Saturday, as Nebraska looks to end a three-game skid.
- The Huskers are rotating between quarterbacks, while Purdue boasts one of college football’s best passing games.
- Pat McMahon is backing the Boilermakers at home and explains why below.
Nebraska vs. Purdue Odds
|Nebraska Odds||+1 [BET NOW]|
|Purdue Odds||-1 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+100/-121 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||63 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 12 p.m. ET|
|TV||Big Ten Network|
Purdue and Nebraska meet in West Lafayette, Indiana, on Saturday for a Big Ten West matchup.
The Boilermakers are looking to end a three-game skid after a promising start to the season. Since winning their first two games, they’ve suffered three straight one-possession losses.
The Cornhuskers come in at 1-4 and are struggling to create consistent offense. Scott Frost’s quarterback carousel continued last week against Iowa, as Adrian Martinez got the start, and Luke McCaffrey saw plenty of action as well.
So, where’s the betting value in this matchup? Let’s break it all down.
Inconsistent play at quarterback has been the main storyline for the Huskers all season. Martinez and McCaffrey are both talented players, but neither has been able to play well enough to secure the starting job. Martinez has started three games and has better passing numbers than McCaffrey.
However, Martinez hasn’t done anything overly impressive and has struggled to put points on the board. McCaffrey has more upside and is an incredible runner, but his issues with turnovers and passing accuracy have prevented Frost from giving him the full keys to the offense.
Martinez started against Iowa last week and didn’t see much success early. When McCaffrey got his shot in the first half, he led the Huskers to two field-goal drives. However, Martinez got the bulk of the work in the second half and played much better. He finished 18-of-20 passing and ran for a touchdown. After his second-half performance to help keep it close against the Hawkeyes, Martinez will likely receive the start again on Saturday.
The two quarterback system did yield some success against Iowa, as Nebraska outgained the Hawkeyes. The difference in the game came down to losing the turnover battle and struggling to finish off drives, two issues that have plagued the Huskers all season.
Martinez’s improved accuracy last week was a good sign for the Nebraska, but he still hasn’t been able to establish the deep ball. The Huskers have only 11 completions of 20-plus yards this season and just two of 30-plus yards. Wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson is a stud on the outside who’s been getting better as the season goes on, but he’s the only real threat in the passing game that opposing defenses have to worry about.
The Huskers don’t have a featured running back right now with Dedrick Mills out, but they’ve been managing without him in creative ways. Frost has run his quarterbacks heavily all season, and that was again the case last week with McCaffrey and Martinez combining for 17 carries. They’ve also been getting Robinson involved in the run game as well the last couple weeks, and he tied McCaffrey for a team-high 42 yards in the Iowa game.
The Nebraska defense has struggled this season, allowing 32.6 points and 424 yards yards per game. The unit is behind schedule when it comes to both talent and depth and is a few strong recruiting classes away from where Frost wants it to be.
One of its worst performances of the season came against Illinois two weeks ago. The Huskers surrendered 490 yards and 6.4 yards per play against a suspect Illini offense. Last week, they showed some improvement against Iowa, allowing just 322 yards to the Hawkeyes and 4.3 yards per play.
The Purdue offense poses a tough challenge, as the Boilermakers boast a top-20 passing attack and will be the strongest unit they’ve faced since Ohio State in the season opener.
Purdue has had a rough couple of weeks filled with heartbreaking losses. The Boilermakers have dropped games to Northwestern, Minnesota, and Rutgers by a combined 17 points. The Minnesota loss was particularly frustrating, as they had a go-ahead touchdown called back in the final minute for a questionable (to say the least) offensive pass interference call on David Bell.
A combination of poor defense, turnovers, and inefficiency in the red zone has plagued the Boilermakers in these losses. What hasn’t been an issue is their ability to move the football on offense. Purdue has posted more yards per play than the opposition in each of their three losses, and they outgained Minnesota by nearly 100 yards.
The Purdue passing attack is one of the best in college football. Even with Aidan O’Connell out, it should be fine against Nebraska, as Jack Plummer is plenty experienced and has looked solid the last two games. Having one of the top receiving duos in the country on the outside in Bell and Rondale Moore makes life easier for any quarterback.
Moore missed the first three games of the season but made his debut against Minnesota, posting 15 receptions for 116 yards while adding a touchdown on the ground. Moore already has 192 yards receiving through two games, and Bell has just shy of 500 yards in five games.
With the consistent ability to move the football and the talent the Boilermakers have at the skill position, they should be putting up more points. However, finishing drives has been an issue, with Purdue ranking 111th in the nation in red-zone conversion percentage.
The red-zone struggles can largely be explained by Purdue’s one-dimensional nature on offense. When the field shrinks, the Boilermakers haven’t been able to rely on their running game. They are posting less than 100 yards per game on the ground and only 3.7 yards per carry. Purdue may find it easier to punch it in against Nebraska, however, as the Cornhuskers have really struggled against the run this season.
The Purdue defense has been average statistically in most areas. It’s been solid against the run, holding the opposition to just 3.56 yards per carry on the season. But it hasn’t faced a running quarterback as good as McCaffrey yet. However, when McCaffrey checks into the game, it’s almost always a running play, so the Boilermakers should be prepared to slow him down.
Purdue’s main weakness on defense is in the secondary. It has a young unit that has struggled against quality quarterback play. However, it should be able to contain a Nebraska passing game that has shown zero ability to beat teams over the top.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This is a close spread because of Purdue’s struggles in close games and Nebraska gaining some momentum last week with a respectable performance against Iowa.
Neither defense can be trusted in this one, but I’m backing Purdue for its offense. The Boilermakers have been considerably more consistent than Nebraska on that side of the ball, and they’ll be able to pick apart the Cornhuskers’ secondary at will.
With two teams that have struggled off to finish off drives this season, I’m opting to trust the offense that will have more scoring opportunities and has better weapons. This is a great spot for Purdue to get back in the win column at home.
Pick: Purdue -2 (down to -3).