We’re well past the point of grading this Purdue team on pretty.
Facing its near mirror image today in terms of a Nebraska team battling injuries all over the place both teams had their ugly moments. Purdue looked particularly awful in falling behind 10-0, but in that span the Cornhuskers really could have gone up 21-0. Adrian Martinez scrambled and found Kanawai Noa for a 34-yard pass down to the Purdue 2 to set up the first score. Darrion Daniels then nearly got the greatest of fat man touchdowns ever when he picked off Jack Plummer’s shovel pass.
Fortunately, Daniels was tackled at the Purdue 2, and the Boilers held for an improbable field goal. That 4-point save ended up being the winning margin, too. Nebraska had a chance for more points on its next drive, but a poor throw by Martinez on 1st and 10 from the Purdue 21 was intercepted easily by Cory Trice at the 3. Plummer would be intercepted by Lamar Jackson three plays later, but Purdue was at least out of danger and forced a three and out.
Like I said, Purdue was down 10-0, but very easily could have been down 21-0. Plummer then engineered two really good drives to put us in front 14-10 at the half. The first was a 10 play, 89 yard drive, while the second was a 12 play, 96-yard drive just before halftime.
Pretty much everything that happened after Daniels was pulled down short of the goal line changed thigns for Purdue. It felt quite fortuitous to be ahead on the Payne Durham touchdown.
Of course, it wasn’t easy from there. Nebraska got a free field goal thanks to a couple of weak penalties. Purdue had a good drive later for a long J.D. Dellinger field goal, but the next two possessions for each team ended in touchdowns as the defenses were turned off. Nebraska took advantage of “third down and long over the middle” on each drive. For Purdue, we had a balanced offense for once.
The most impressive thing is that Purdue scored both times without Jack Plummer in. Aidan O’Connell didn’t need to throw as King Doerue ran for the final 11 yards after Plummer got us into scoring range, but on the second drive he really impressed a lot of people as he directed a game-winning 12 play, 82 yard drive. On that drive he was 6 for 6, completing three big passes tp Brycen Hopkins. Then Jeff Brohm dialed up the perfect reverse to David Bell for the score.
It wasn’t pretty. We lost Plummer probably for the season, per Brohm. We had two ugly interceptions and had two punts blocked. It was a win though. for the most part the defense was solid. Even after the two touchdowns given up it stopped Nebraska on four plays to close the game out. Martinez was as elusive as advertised, but Purdue actually out-rushed an opponent and he was held to 247 yards through the air.
Perhaps the other impressive thing today was the way the fans are still supporting this team. There is still a lot of positivity in the stands and a lot of promise for the future. I think a lot of people still believe in Brohm and what he is doing.
Now we can dream just a little bit. O’Connell is a third string QB, but he has shown some promise and Northwestern is completely averse to offense. They are dead last in the country in scoreing at 10.7 points per game. That needs to be a win.
Then there is a week off before going to Wisconsin. Maybe Elijah Sindelar and Rondale Moore are back for that game. If they are, it is still a longshot, but it is at least a chance. Even if that game is a loss, I think that the return of Sindelar and Moore for a win over Indiana would make a lot of fans happy. Yes, it would still feel like a lost season and the Nevada collapse would sting more, but given what this team has been through it would be a nice finish.