Well, that did well to elevate blood pressure levels around the state, didn’t it?
Nebraska jumped out to a 17-0 lead on Purdue, held a 27-13 lead at the halftime break, and then just held on to win its second game of the season, 37-27 over Purdue. The Boilermakers have now lost four straight games after the 2-0 start. Nebraska moves to 2-4.
This game had it all.
Nebraska wideout Levi Falck blocked a punt on Purdue’s opening possession of the game and linebacker Simon Otte rolled over the loose ball at the 1-yard-line.
Dedrick Mills—yes, Dedrick Mills, he was back in action after two missed games—punched it in on the ensuing play for a 7-0 lead.
Purdue went three-and-out on its next drive, corner Cam Taylor-Britt returned the punt 27 yards and then Purdue added another 15 yards onto the end of the run thanks to a sideline interference call.
Nebraska started at the Purdue 17 and scored in three plays, with Adrian Martinez, making his second straight start, breaking tackles from nearly half the Purdue defense to find the end zone.
After two possessions, NU had 18 yards and 14 points. At the end of the first quarter, it had run 11 of its 14 offensive plays from Purdue’s side of the field.
Both sides traded points in the second quarter. The highlight came late, when Nebraska had a punt of its own blocked and recovered at its own 20-yard-line with 19 seconds to play in the half.
Nebraska was going to get the ball to open the third quarter, and coach Scott Frost was looking to double up. Martinez had completed seven straight pass attempts, but he missed on his first, and had his second-down attempt batted down. A run for no gain led to the punt.
Purdue kicked a field goal as time expired to claw within 14.
Some maybe had anxiety heading into the third quarter. Second halves haven’t been kind to Nebraska. It has been outscored by nearly 60 points in the final 30 minutes of games this year.
But Nebraska did well to assuage those fears with its opening possession of the second half.
The Huskers went 75 yards in 11 plays and drove for six.
Frost flashed a little of everything. Nebraska didn’t have a negative play, it didn’t have a penalty, and only three of the 11 plays resulted in fewer than 5 yards. Martinez was a perfect 3-for-3 throwing it.
And most importantly, Nebraska had a 34-13 lead.
Then came the climb back into things for Purdue.
The Boilermakers worked their way back in thanks to the superstar wideout duo of Rondale Moore and David Bell. Bell got loose for 89 yards early in the fourth quarter to bring the Boilermakers within one score.
Nebraska then drove 79 yards in eight plays to get a field goal and rebuild the two-score lead.
The defense stood up from that point on.
Taylor-Britt had a huge third-down break-up on Purdue’s second-to-last drive that likely prevented a touchdown.
— Derek Peterson (@DrPeteyHV) December 5, 2020
Purdue got the ball back with one more shot after a fourth-and-2 stop on Nebraska’s ensuing possession, but the defense held strong again. On a fourth-and-6, Nebraska’s front collapsed the pocket and forced a turnover on downs.
Nebraska ended in victory formation.
Martinez was superb on the day. He was 23-for-30 throwing the ball for 242 yards and a score. He also had 45 rushing yards and two scores on 13 carries. Nebraska averaged 5.1 yards a play and got its best playmaker the ball. Robinson had nine catches for 114 yards, easily his best receiving day of the season.
Notably: zero turnovers for Nebraska.
It was also the first Big Ten game since 2003 during which both teams had over 100 yards gained because of penalties called on the other side.
Nebraska will prepare for its regular-season finale against Minnesota. That game is scheduled for Dec. 12, with a time yet to be announced. The Gophers have had their last two games canceled, the most recent one against Northwestern because of COVID-19 issues within the program.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.