Well now, where did THAT come from?
I recognize that Nebraska is struggling with injuries and had to start a walk-on at quarterback today who had never started before, but damn if it did not feel good to be the team waiting for an opponent to screw up for once. It was like watching bizarro Purdue today. Aside from some easy 4th quarter touchdowns given up with a big lead the Boilers did nothing wrong and made the Cornhuskers pay a full measure for each mistake.
This is what good teams do.
There are a lot of players to cite for this once, so let's run down the list:
Anthony Brown - The senior defensive back had a big mistake on a missed tackle that gave Nebraska a touchdown, but anytime you intercept three passes in a game it is a good day. For the record, his three picks are the first time a player has picked off three in a single game for Purdue since Mike Rose did it against Northwestern in 1997. I am betting Monday morning he will be named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Week.
David Blough - I said that if there was a breakout game for him it would be today, and I was right. Blough was 28 of 43 for 274 yards and four touchdowns. He had not interceptions and had 82 yards rushing and a 56 yard touchdown on the ground for good measure. More importantly, he played within the game and was virtually mistake free. He was sacked once for a loss of a yard. He will very likely join Brown in being cited by the league as the Freshman of the Week, and has a decent chance at getting Offensive Player of the Week.
Garrett Hudson - When he missed a first quarter tackle as the Cornhuskers were driving down 7-3 I made a crack that he could not tackle a guy on a Segway scooter. He then had a HUGE fumble recovery and moved it to the Nebraska 16 after a bad snap that flipped the field and set up Purdue's second TD. He finished with 7 tackles, half a sack, and had 27 yards on the fumble return.
Markell Jones - The yards were tough to come by most of the day on the ground, but his longest run was a 21 yarder where he squeezed free from a pile. He finished with 91 yards and 2 TDs on the ground and he caught five passes for 51 yards. He now leads Purdue with 8 total touchdowns.
DeAngelo Yancey - Blough kept trying to go deep to him and he was finally able to come through with a backbreaker 83 yard TD catch where he broke a tackle and coasted to the end zone. He finished with 5catches for 111 yards and two scores.
Danny Anthrop - If you can have a quiet day with 10 receptions that was Anthrop today. I knew he had a TD. I didn't realize he had 10 catches until looking at the box score. It probably felt good to do so against the team where he was injured at last year.
Jordan Jurasevich - I love that he earned himself a scholarship this year after being a walk-on. Today he had his first career TD catch on one hell of a play. You bet Jurasevich it was a good catch.
Leroy Clark - He led Purdue with 10 tackles and nearly had a pick 6.
Andy James Garcia - He had a quiet 9 tackles in containing the rushing game. Did you know Purdue held a team under 100 yards rushing? When is the last time that happened?
It is hard to believe Purdue once led this game 42-16 with 15 minutes left, won 55-45, but it did not really feel that close. There were a handful of huge plays that all went in Purdue's favor, however, to lead to this win:
5:06 1st Quarter, Nebraska 3rd and 5 at the Purdue 33 - After taking a 7-3 lead Purdue was struggling to stop the Cornhuskers on a drive. It was a critical 3rd down on the edge of field goal range that completely went Purdue's way. The ball was snapped before Ryker Fyfe was ready, he couldn't fall on the ball, and eventually Garrett Hudson picked it up and was able to take it to the Nebraska 16. It was pretty much a 10-point swing at minimum and possibly a 14-point swing.
7:26 2nd Quarter, Nebraska 2nd and 11 at their own 22 - This was Browns first INT, and it set up another TD to put the Boilers up 21-9 after Nebraska had scored. Purdue had 4 TD drives today of less than 25 yards thanks to Nebraska turnovers.
12:06 3rd Quarter, Purdue 3rd and 6 at their own 24 - This was an absolutely crucial conversion by Blough. Up 21-9 at halftime, the Boilers gave up a 75 yard TD drive with ease to start the third quarter and a stop would have meant the return of bad Purdue. How many times has a multi-score lead been erased by a score-3-and-out-score out of halftime? Purdue was in danger of that here, but Blough converted with his legs, and it led to a huge 13 play, 80 yard TD drive that was an actual answer to Nebraska's challenge. To me, this was gigantic because Purdue has NEVER been able to have that offensive answer with John Shoop until today.
5:19 3rd Quarter, Purdue 2nd and 9 at their own 17 - After the previous TD Purdue forced a punt, this play got the long TD to Yancey. Purdue then picked off the next Nebraska offensive play, and drove 19 yards in 5 plays for yet another score. Basically, Purdue scored 21 points in 6 Nebraska offensive plays.
3:07 4th Quarter, Purdue 1st and 10 at the Nebraska 30 - This is the play where Markell Jones somehow kept the play moving in a pile, then broke out to make it a 21 yard gain. It was enough to let Purdue to take most of the rest of the clock. Yes, the Boilers would have a blocked extra point returned for 2 called back on a penalty, give up a quick TD, and lose an onside kick with 30 seconds left that, had the above defensive deuce not been called back would have given Nebraska the ball with 30 seconds left down only 8, but the run by Jones was an emphatic way where Purdue announced they were going to seize this win and close things.
So what now? At 2-6 a bowl is still very much a longshot and Purdue won today mostly because Nebraska was awful, but it is the type of win that can build a team's confidence. There is no reason Purdue can't beat Illinois next week to move to 3-6. Then you get Northwestern, Iowa, and Indiana where the only truly stunning result would be a shock win in Iowa City.
Okay, so maybe I am getting ahead of myself. At least now we can look forward to Illinois where we can keep a trophy and maybe get on one of those winning streak things.