After a wild second half at Ross-Ade Stadium, Purdue outlasted Nebraska 43-37 to stay tied atop the Big Ten West standings with Illinois. The Boilermakers have now won 4 straight since their second setback of the year at Syracuse. After a rocky start, the Boilermakers are hitting their stride and could be on their way to doing something special this season. Before that, let’s get into tonight’s win.
In typical Purdue fashion, they just could not make this one easy for themselves. Leading by 17 in the first half, the Huskers put up 10 straight to make it a four-point game in the third quarter.
Trey Palmer had a career night that almost ruined the Boilermakers’ night if Nebraska had got the ball one last time in the end. Palmer had 67% of Nebraska’s receiving yards AND 50% of their rushing yards tonight.
- Nebraska rush yards: 121
- Palmer rush yards: 60
- Nebraska pass yards: 349
- Palmer receiving yards: 237
Not to take anything away from him, because that is one hell of a line, but this continues the conversation about Purdue’s inability to stop the big play through the air. Looking back at Penn State and Syracuse, those teams won because they had explosive plays in key moments. It’s as simple as that. Even in games, Purdue won, like tonight, Maryland and even FAU, they got burnt by big plays. Now, Ron English has left his cornerbacks out on islands a lot this season. This coaching staff has to think about making changes in personnel or some adjustments philosophy wise or this will keep happening to them.
Maybe worse, the total time over the three touchdown drives in the second half for Nebraska was 2 minutes and 31 seconds. Purdue gave that up to a team that barely scored 14 points last week against Rutgers. It is essential for the Boilermakers to fix this if they are going to be able to sustain success throughout the end of the year.
Luckily for the Boilermakers’ defense, they came up with some turnovers to get their red-hot offense back on the field. Reese Taylor came up with the biggest one with 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter that led to a Purdue touchdown drive back down the field.
Aside from the defensive lapses, Aidan O’Connell and the offense looked about as good as they have all season. Pouring on over 600 yards of offense and if not for O’Connell’s early interception would have been a near-flawless game. The 6th year quarterback finished with 391 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air, finding his receivers at a 64% clip.
The most intriguing and encouraging aspect of the offense was the running game though. Devin Mockobee has come out of nowhere to prove himself as the Boilermakers’ most effective option out of the backfield. He ran for a career-high 178 yards and a touchdown to pace Purdue in their 217 team rushing yards. That mark is good for second best on the season, behind the Indiana State game which was 232.
Adding a good run game to an already deadly air raid is something we haven’t seen on a consistent basis out of Jeff Brohm over the last 2-3 years. He might finally have the guy to lead that charge for him and the offense now. Mockobee just has some extra juice in his runs that none of the other backs have been able to replicate.
With the offense humming like that, it is hard to think of an opponent that can match their firepower down the stretch. After tonight’s win, the Boilermakers are off to a 5-2 record, which is the best start to a season since 2007. This team is looking for a different outcome than the Tiller-led Boilers that season. Next to the Illinois Fighting Illini at the top of the Big Ten West, each game is going to be key.
Purdue needs to take some things away from this game and keep the train rolling. Next up is a foe in Wisconsin who they have not been able to beat since 2003, making it 15 consecutive losses. The Boilers will look to change that next Saturday in Madison and extend their winning streak to five straight.