Nebraska Steals the Win as Purdue Stumbles, 25-24
Feature image from @BoilerFootball.
One week after the first major letdown of the Jeff Brohm era, Purdue was favored by 6.5 points as they hosted a slumping Nebraska.
There were plenty of reasons for concern – Nebraska looked to be floundering, but their last two games were against OSU and Wisconsin. The Huskers totally quit on HC and BS 2012 favorite Mike Riley, but still had much better top-to-bottom talent than the Boilers. QB Tanner Lee is very solid, Nebraska has receiving options, and Purdue’s offense hadn’t shown any signs of life for the better part of a month. And yet, Purdue was favored by 6.5 points and everyone except J Money picked a Purdue victory.
Purdue lost to Nebraska 25-24, as Tanner Lee surgically marched down the field for the late go-ahead TD under the beautiful shiny new lights of Ross Ade Stadium. Brohm tried to recreate the 2008 Michigan hook-and-lateral magic in the game’s final 14 seconds, but it wasn’t quite enough.
Here are some things I thought during the game:
Tanner Lee is pretty dang good.
Purdue’s pass rush was breaking Nebraska’s line all game, yet Lee looked fairly solid all game. I figured he would end up attempting somewhere around 50 attempts (like Blough last year), rack up yards, and look a little more impressive on-paper than he actually was.
And then that go-ahead drive happened.
Surgical. Absolutely surgical, under “win or your coach gets fired on the tarmac” pressure, under the same pressure Purdue’s pass rush was getting all night.
1 minute, 8 plays, 70 yards, 7 completions on 8 attempts, all perfectly working the sidelines to maximize playing time. It was an absolutely clinic, and should be on every tape the 6’4” junior QB sends NFL scouts.
Night games at Ross Ade look beautiful.
Lights are a good idea.
MISSING: Purdue’s offensive aggression
It’s been a problem all season – Purdue busts out the bland playcalling as the game winds down. In blowouts and close games alike, Brohm gets conservative as time expires.
I don’t think we have to overthink this – Brohm and the offensive playcallers can’t trust any of their wide receivers, for good reason, and that greatly limits their options while trying to put a win away. That leads me to the next point…
The WRs lost Purdue this game, not QB David Blough or the defense.
David Blough had one of his best games of the season tonight. It was basically the last Rutgers drive all game – confident, decisive, accurate, and elusive when he was on the run. Blough finished 16/28 passing for only 164 yards and 1 TD (with an additional 33 rushing yards and 1 rushing TD), so I wouldn’t blame you if you missed the game and can’t see how this could possibly be true.
Of Blough’s 12 incomplete passes, I’d bet over half were bulls-eye targeted throws that were dropped by Purdue’s wideouts. Tonight was a particularly awful day for Anthrop, Sparks, Phillips, Wright, Mahoungou, and Isaac Zico. Zico, Sparks, and Mahoungou, in particular, had wide-open deep bombs dropped right in their laps…only to drop them as they must have realized their human hands were replaced with carrot sticks cleverly stuffed into wide receiver gloves.
It was a frustrating night for the WRs. Purdue desperately needs receiving help in 2018.
Fake punt draws a pass interference
On fourth and short, Brohm called a pretty standard crossing pattern that moved the chains…except this time the officials called the (clearly visible and a definitely obvious hallmark of Brohm’s playbook) pick penalty. Brohm spent most of the play clock screaming at the ref, which made the special teams playcall even more stunning:
Nebraska’s outside blocker was playing a punt, (correctly) aggressively going at Purdue WR Jared Sparks while Schopper decided to launch the ball as high as he could throw it. Sparks made a late break towards the ball, and the Nebraska blocker drove him to the sideline as he’s undoubtedly been instructed to since high school football special teams.
Unfortunately, that’s not how you play a pass. That’s how you get called for Pass Interference on a pass. But why would anyone expect a pass in that situation? None of the o-linemen were blocking like they would block a fake, and everyone was running deep. C’mon, there’s no fake happening here.
Purdue ended up with an Anthrop TD three minutes later. Purdue’s coaching staff continues to surprise.
This game was a bummer so I’m gonna post this amazing Danny Hope GIF I found while going through our old BS Mike Riley-related posts.
Purdue’s defense is its calling card
Those who stopped paying attention to Brohm’s Boilers after the Mizzou blowout think the trick plays and offensive ingenuity is what has driven this team well over its preseason 2.5 win Vegas line. And they couldn’t be more wrong.
Nick Holt’s defense allowed only 9 first half rushing yards. The Boilers kept breaking the constantly-injured Husker o-line. Multiple Purdue defenders swarmed the ball every single play like I haven’t seen since the vaunted 2003/2004 era. It was beautiful, until that last drive.
It’s been like that all year. Purdue’s defense has repeatedly bailed an anemic offense out time and time again, and just couldn’t hold in the end. You can only ask so much from a defense like this, and Purdue’s offense did nothing to complement the other side of the ball.
Purdue’s RBs were fantastic, but Purdue’s o-line was not.
Offensive line continues to be fairly treacherous for Purdue, but the running backs were wonderful in every aspect of the game. Richie Worship was a literal bowling ball, ending with 18 carries/89 yards and a touchdown. DJ Knox added 9 carries/66 yards, a 25 yard reception, and was tremendous on special teams returns. Blough ran 7 times for 33 yards.
Markell Jones seemed to be a little hobbled, with only 3 carries for 10 yards, but when the other guys have it going like that Purdue has to ride the hot hand. I vote we ban any WR not named Anthrop, line up only TEs and RBs, and have at it.
This is the only way Purdue honors its greats
I love this super weird university.