Purdue dropped an important conference game to the Nebraska Cornhuskers 31-14 that pushes their record 2-6 with just four games remaining. This will likely mean Purdue will miss bowl eligibility with remaining games against Michigan, Northwestern, Minnesota, and Indiana and needing wins in each of those games. Nebraska moved to 5-3 and moved itself into position to make its way to Indianapolis to represent the B1G West in Matt Rhule’s first season in Lincoln.
The offense struggled all day as they failed to get more than 100 yards either rushing or passing the ball and could only create 12 points off 4 forced fumbles throughout the game. Hudson Card was only 16-32 for 50% and had only 100 yards throwing while the running game generated only 96 total yards off 29 attempts. Devin Mockobee led all rushers for Purdue with 42 yards off 7 attempts.
Purdue’s offense couldn’t generate any big plays until the fourth quarter when Jayden Dixon-Veal caught a 29 yard pass for a touchdown from Hudson Card as he scrambled to his right for the first touchdown for the Boilers. The only other plays that went for more than 10 yards all day were a set of Devin Mockobee runs for 16 and 12 yards. Mockobee, however, fumbled on the 16 yard rush in the in the first quarter.
The defense played very well throughout the game outside of a 73 yard touchdown pass from Haarberg to Jaylen Lloyd right after Card’s first interception in the second quarter. Card would throw another interception late in the fourth quarter with the game all but decided after Purdue gave up a late touchdown after a failed onside kick following the biggest play for the Boilers all day.
Following a forced fumble on Nebraska QB Heinrich Haarbeg led to Purdue’s first points of the day, Nebraska subbed in Jeff Sims who was hit in the backfield by Kydran Jenkins who forced the fumble and picked it up and ran it for a 55 yard touchdown. That would be the last points Purdue would score on the day.
Scourton, Jenkins, and Thieneman played great games for the Boilers against a Nebraska offense who has been improving throughout the season under Matt Rhule. Thieneman had 12 total tackles (7 solo), 1 tackle for loss, and 2 forced fumbles. Scourton had 10 tackles (6 solo with .5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss while Jenkins had 8 tackles (7 solo), 2 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and a touchdown.
Nebraska had only 277 total yards of offense and Haarberg was only able to generate 22 yards rushing on 19 attempts but Purdue was largely ineffective to gain any sort of momentum from the Cornhuskers. Haarberg went only 6-11 for 122 yards (73 on one throw) and frequently was under pressure on those 11 drop backs 6 to 7 times. Nebraska did not have a runner or receiver gain more than 76 total yards individually on the day.
What Went Wrong?
The offense as a whole was really bad today but after the initial kickoff was fumbled by Nebraska and Purdue immediately went backwards, that should have been an indication of what the rest of the day would look like. However, down 14-0 and generating another Nebraska turnover, Purdue couldn’t do anything with the ball and lined up for a field goal attempt. That was blocked and returned for a touchdown and Nebraska took a 21-0 lead. That swing of potentially 10 (but really possibly 14 points) was the deciding factor in the game after Purdue ended up getting two touchdowns.
Player of the Game:
Kydran Jenkins may end up being the B1G Defensive Player of the Week with his performance today. He was all over the field and may have had the biggest hit of the week after Haarberg lost track of him during a scramble drill and essentially ran right into him. Honorable mention to Thieneman and Scourton as well.
No Magic In The Deck of Cards
Following another poor performance at the helm of the Purdue offense where he went 16-32, Card has gone just 54-104 for 52% and 473 yards with 4 interceptions and just 3 touchdowns. Card has frequently been holding onto the ball too much in the pocket and is either unable to get the ball out quickly because of receivers inability to get open or the scheme isn’t working for him. Purdue was going to need Card to look like he did against Illinois where he went 18-26 for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions if they wanted to make a bowl game. Instead, Purdue has gotten a quarterback who has looked very average and seems unable to make quick decisions in the passing game while missing receivers all too often when they are open down the field.
Purdue will head to Ann Arbor to face the #2 Michigan Wolverines in what will likely find the Boilers a three touchdown underdog. The Boilers are still in bowl game contention at 2-6 with four games remaining but the likelihood of winning al games is very unlikely.