BLOOMINGTON – Tom Allen doesn't usually change his wardrobe.
His game-day look at Indiana has remained consistent for most of the 44 games he has been a defensive coordinator and head coach.
A black zip-up jacket, with the white IU trident logo over the left breast is the typical look for him.
But not this week.
Not with Indiana (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) traveling to Nebraska (4-3, 2-2) with the chance to earn bowl eligibility in a blackout-themed environment.
The Cornhuskers will be wearing special black alternate uniforms for the 3:30 p.m. kickoff, and the expected crowd of nearly 90,000 is encouraged to also wear black to enhance the atmosphere.
Given this, Allen is making a temporary clothing change, as he said the Hoosiers will wear white for the crossover conference game.
“They're dressing up like me,” Allen said of the crowd while chuckling. “Our players, they'd send me back in the locker room and make me change if I did wear what I usually wear. I have no doubt about that.”
A focus on fashion is an unexpected subplot to today's game, one already featuring plenty of injury speculation on both sides.
Allen said Thursday that starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. remains a game-time decision after leaving the first half of last Saturday's win at Maryland with an undisclosed injury.
Indiana faced this same situationbefore the Ohio State and Connecticut games. In those instances Penix wasn't able to practice much in the week, and as a result backup Peyton Ramsey got the start in both games.
But Allen said Penix has practiced most days this week, buoying his chances to start.
“Just the importance of having two guys that you know at any moment's notice can go out there and run your offense,” Allen said, having watched Ramsey play in five games already this season (though two came as part of late-game blowouts).
Like last week, the question of quarterback health is also a storyline for Indiana's opponent.
Sophomore starter Adrian Martinez missed Nebraska's last game on Oct. 12 (a 34-7 loss at Minnesota), because of a left knee injury. The benefit of a bye week has increased Martinez's chances to suit up against the Hoosiers, and he wore a knee brace this week in practice.
“We're hopeful,” Nebraska offensive coordinator Troy Walters told reporters this week. “All the quarterbacks are taking reps, so we'll see game day who's ready to go.”
If Martinez can't play, the Cornhuskers will once again deploy sophomore Noah Vedral at quarterback. Vedral, who transferred from Central Florida soon after head coach Scott Frost left UCF for Nebraska, replaced an injured Martinez for the fourth quarter of Nebraska's home win over Northwestern this month.
He posted pedestrian numbers in his first career start at Minnesota, finishing with 135 passing yards on 14 of 23 attempts, while rushing for 49 yards on 15 carries.
Running back is another spot of uncertainty for the Cornhuskers. The team's third-leading rusher, Maurice Washington, is not with the team because of an unspecified rules violation. (He also has a pending felony court case in California.)
Freshman running back/wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (214 rushing yards and 336 receiving yards) is also questionable because of a lower body injury.
This could thrust junior Dedrick Mills, the team's leading rusher with 350 yards on the ground and seven rushing touchdowns, into even more work for a Nebraska offense that might already be without its main quarterback.
Indiana at Nebraska
When: 3:30 p.m. today
Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
Records: Indiana (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten); Nebraska (4-3, 2-2)
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1250 AM