Sometimes Moral Victories Are OK: Purdue falls short against Nebraska, 27-14
(Feature image from @BoilerFootball)
Purdue opened the Gerad Parker era in spectacular form, notching a wonderful 14-10 victory in Lincoln over the #8 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. Just a typical road win from the best team in America.
Wait, football has four quarters, not two halves? Dang. Ok. Gimme a sec, lemme cue the DVR up.
After a fantastic first half against the 8th-ranked team in the country, our Boilers couldn’t score another point as the Cornhuskers marched to a 27-14 victory in Lincoln.
The game started with a bizarre Markell Jones halfback pass, thrown directly into the hands of a Nebraska cornerback. One play, and 8 seconds later, QB Tommy Armstrong strolled into the end zone and it seemed like Purdue fans were in for one hell of an afternoon.
But Parker’s Purdue responded with a resilience *nobody* could have expected, including the 33 year old interim head coach. To start what was certainly the most impressive 29 minutes and 44 seconds of the season, Purdue immediately marched 75 yards and converted the equalizing touchdown on a 4th-and-1. David Blough looked under control, Bilal Marshall’s 44 yard grab brought Purdue to the NEB 5 yard line, and Purdue looked completely unfazed by the raucous road crowd.
The “Bend Don’t Break All-Star Defense” was on display in the first half, holding Nebraska to three punts and a field goal on the next four drives. And immediately after some doofus tweeted about Marshall ascending into Purdue’s best wide receiver, DeAngelo Yancey took a deep dig route 88 yards for a touchdown, and our Boilermakers were leading the 8th best team in the country.
Jimmy Herman picked off Armstrong to end the half, and I’m pretty sure Purdue fans everywhere were feeling this odd warm sensation in their chests. Like they weren’t completely miserable watching this forsaken team they chose to root for as a child. A feeling of…dread. No, what’s the word? Glumness? Hollowness? Could it be…contentment? Satisfaction?
No. It was better. It was happiness.
Purdue, for just one half, was fun to watch again. Even though our Boilers lost by 13 points (COVERED THE SPREAD THO), they made our late Saturday afternoon fun again. For a half, our Purdue Boilermakers thoroughly outplayed a top ten team on the road, complete with linebackers making solid tackles and a Replogle-less pass rush bugging Armstrong and receivers catching balls and stuff. They played with a freedom unseen so far this season, a direct result of the midseason coaching change.
It was awesome. It was competitive. It was…fun.
Now, Purdue crashed right back down to the mean during the second half, meekly mustering 94 yards as Nebraska put up 17 unanswered points to seal their 7th victory in an undefeated season. You could even tell watching Gerad Parker’s halftime interview:
Again, this was halftime, not postgame. But they achieved their goal: come out and compete on the road, against one of the better teams in the country. Opening pass notwithstanding, Purdue achieved that, and Parker was happy.
Such a one-half performance would have gotten Darrell Hazell skewered in this very blog space, but here we are praising Parker for putting up a complete dud in the second half. But thems the breaks, I guess.
For a half, Purdue looked unafraid and unburdened, and fans had a ton of fun. Gerad Parker seemed to be comfortable as a head coach, and a lower level FBS school should take a chance on the 33 year old interim. And, were he to lead Purdue to a victory (over two halves) this week, I’d be driving the “PARKER FOR PURDUE 2016” campaign. But instead, our Boilers notched the moralest-of-moral victories, and it was definitely enough to have us fans feeling good heading into these weird final games of 2016.
But we’re going to need to hire a 60-minute head coach before December rolls around.