What if I told you that Abdullah would go out in the first quarter, Nebraska would throw two interceptions and Purdue would also get a turnover on downs and a fumble recovery? You probably would've thought Purdue had a solid chance to win that game wouldn't you? What if I also told you that Purdue would have two punts blocked, two interceptions of their own, and a couple turnovers on downs as well? Well you'd probably be pretty confused. I am too. Nebraska did everything they could to hand Purdue the game but Purdue simply couldn't take advantage.
This Purdue team has a nasty habit of shooting themselves in the foot to start games. Whether it's a quick three and out or a pick six there always seems to be something. Today Purdue got the ball first and went three and out so fast it made your head spin. They weren't done yet though as Nebraska came through on the punt and blocked their first of two punts on the day giving them fantastic field position and an easy seven points to start the game. Nebraska would get two more series inside the Purdue thirty in the first quarter but wound up with exactly zero additional points. How is that possible you say? Well Nebraska missed a field goal far right on one possession and on the second drive they were stopped and Ameer Abdullah was injured and wouldn't return. Purdue had an opening but simply couldn't grasp it.
Purdue's only points in the first half came on a 4th and 4 designed run by Appleby where he used a nice move in the backfield to make his way 25 yards to the endzone. The rest of the first half saw Purdue try and try again to get the ball to Akeem Hunt on the edge or in space anywhere. It didn't work. Hunt dropped some balls and Appleby missed some but the moral of the story is they couldn't get the ball to their number one target. Purdue allowed two more touchdowns in the first half including an eight play drive where Nebraska threw the ball exactly zero times and went into halftime down by a score of 21-7. The game felt like it was slipping away despite Nebraska's best efforts.
The third quarter was the exact third quarter you'd expect as Purdue did absolutely nothing on offense and also allowed Nebraska to score and take the 21 point lead that Vegas had predicted (or something close). I'm sure Brent Musberger was off mumbling about the cover somewhere. But as we all know the fourth quarter is where Purdue comes alive and gives us all just the right amount of hope to make things interesting but not enough to honestly think Purdue will win. Before there could be jubilation though there was heartbreak.
On a rather nifty punt return Purdue's most productive wide receiver Danny Anthrop planted his leg wrong and crumpled in a heap. He had to be helped off the field and was sent to the locker room after reportedly being "sick to his stomach" on the sidelines. We all know what it looked like so I won't mention it here. I'm not a doctor but I don't expect great news for Purdue's best wide receiver. On the injury front Frankie Williams was also knocked out of this game with an apparent concussion which I believe is his second this year. Kudos to the Purdue staff for immediately recognizing it and not pulling a Brady Hoke and saying he was okay to play.
After the punt return Purdue was able to punch it in on a nice pass from Austin Appleby to Cameron Posey for 23 yards. That cut the lead to just two scored and you suddenly thought Purdue might have a chance. Add to that on the very next possession Purdue got a timely interception while Nebraska was driving to score and the thought crossed my mind that Purdue might actually pull within seven. The offense though couldn't get it going. Landon Feichter's interception was wasted as the deficit stayed at fourteen. Feichter would grab another interception but it was all for naught as Purdue's offense was struggling with a rejuvenated Nebraska defense in the fourth quarter and couldn't get much going. After Nebraska took over on downs deep in Purdue territory Terrell Newby punched it in for that lovely cover (you're welcome Mr. Musberger). That was the end of the scoring as your final was 35-14.
Purdue lost this game for a number of reasons but just off the top of my head I can think of absolutely awful punt team play including allowing big returns and two blocks, a group of wide receivers/tight ends (minus Anthrop and Justin Sinz) who can't seem to catch a pass that hits them in the chest (I'm looking at you Gabe Holmes), and a Nebraska team that honestly has a pretty darn good defense. This was the best case scenario for Purdue here. I'm not big on moral victories but I don't think this team would've kept this game close last year. This had blowout written all over it after that first blocked punt but the Purdue defense responded beautifully. There's a lot to build on here unfortunately that doesn't help Purdue in the short term. Purdue now sits at 3-6 (1-4) and the bottom of the B1G West.