Last week Purdue was pretty much in control throughout. Boston College scored on its second drive to tie it, but from there Purdue’s defense put on the clamps and didn’t give up anything until late in the fourth quarter.
Today was different. It was about recovery. Purdue had to answer a lot of different challenges throughout. There is no question Nebraska is not the Nebraska of old. This loss marked the first time in their history they have lost eight consecutive games. Still, there is some cachet in winning at Nebraska. They have a passionate fanbase that makes it tough to play.
Purdue was able to respond with three straight scoring drives. DJ Knox tied it with a huge 42-yard run, then the defense was able to tee off a bit. Knox nearly had another TD that was poached by David Blough and Spencer Evans sent us into halftime with a pair of field goals.
It looked like Purdue was going to be in full control when Brycen Hopkins scored on a nice misdirection play. Instead, that started a stretch where neither team could get a stop. Nebraska practically raced down the field for a JD Spielman TS in just two minutes. Purdue recovered and had a 90-yard TD drive capped twice by Knox as he had the TD and the two-point conversion. Nebraska took 47 seconds to score, but again Purdue recovered.
Coming into the game Purdue had given up 10 points total in the third quarters of its games. This was a huge departure from the Hope-Hazell era where we seemed to average 10 third quarter points given up per game. Nebraska had 14 today, but Purdue had an answer. When Markell Jones scored on the first play of the fourth quarter (after a boost from some helpful penalties) it looked like Purdue had it.
It was only the beginning of a wild quarter. Nebraska only scored once, but it happened in 1:52 and they had plenty of chances. Purdue was finally stopped and Nebraska had us truly reeling before Simeon Smiley had his first career interception. Nick Holt was masterful in his blitz calling to keep Adrian Martinez off balance. He burned us with his feet a few times and Devine Ozigbo was killing us, but we did just enough. All told, Nebraska had 582 yards of offense, but three failed fourth down conversions, the interception, and 136 yards of penalties undid them.
We cannot underestimate this win. After the 0-3 start it looked like any bowl game was impossible. Now we have the “easiest” game left next to get to 3-3 before a home game against Ohio State. It is a great recovery when Purdue could have folded and played for the future.
We had several guys that performed well today. Blough was great with 328 yards passing and 38 rushing. Knox had 87 yards and a pair of TDs. Hopkins was over 100 yards receiving with 103 and a score. Rondale Moore had a quiet 85 yards receiving, but a big 40 yard play that shifted things. Even walk-on fullback Alexander Horvath got involved with a pair of catches for 28 yards and two firsts downs.
What’s fun is that this was a double-digit road win, but we still have some things to clean up. There were a ton of drops today as Jared Sparks, Isaac Zico, and Terry Wright had some big ones. The defense was gashed in the final 20 minutes. We also had our own fair share of penalties.
Those are things to look at in the break, however. Now we get a week off and the program is reenergized. Can we get four more wins to get a bowl? It is possible, but not easy. Things are coming together though. Blough is playing some very good football and this is only the second time under Brohm we have cracked 40 points. Since his Western Kentucky teams usually hit 45 without breaking a sweat we finally got to see a glimpse of it today. The offense was rolling for much of the game, and it really seems to be rounding into form.