It was the worst loss in a lost season for Nebraska. Give Purdue credit, but you … don’t … lose … to … Purdue.
Purdue 55, Nebraska 45, Instant Analysis
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1. You don’t lose to Purdue
You … don’t … lose … to … Purdue.
Not only is this Purdue’s first win over a Big Ten team this year, it’s its first win over an FBS team this season. Not only is this the first win over an FBS team this season, it’s the first win over an FBS team since beating Illinois on October 4th of last year and just the third since beating Indiana on November 24th of 2012.
Starting quarterback Tommy Armstrong didn’t play, and it certainly played a big role losing starting running back Terrell Newby and star receiver DeMorney Pierson-El during the game. The other five defeats came by a grand total of 13 points, but Nebraska lost to the same Miami team that just canned its head coach after a 58-0 stomping from Clemson. So if you’re Nebraska, and you have a coach who just turned 62 and might not necessarily be the one you want to rebuild the program with – and it is a rebuild – is this the backbreaking moment? Is this when you restart the computer, try a Scott Frost, or any one of a number of interesting names who could fit into the Husker world, and assume the Mike Riley era simply didn’t work?
Again, the Huskers are really and truly five plays away from the narrative being totally different, but …
You … don’t … lose … to … Purdue.
On the plus side, the team didn’t quit in any way and was still in the game in the fourth quarter after battling back through the mistakes and adversity, but now, no matter how the sausage is made, you are what your record is, and Nebraska is having a historically awful start. When you get compared to the Bill Callahan era, and when you have to go back to the 1950s for a start this bad, there’s a problem.
2. Give credit to Purdue, too.
This will be all about Nebraska losing again and the problems the once-storied program are having, but Purdue made this happen. The Boilermakers did their part with a strong defensive performance, three interceptions from Anthony Brown, and the run defense keeping the Huskers from getting into any sort of a groove. There might have been plenty of misfires and mistakes, and there might have been a slew of problems, but David Blough moved the ball by running through the Huskers and throwing for four scores. Purdue was the more physical team, and that’s what’s going to sting most for Nebraska fans.
Good for Darrell Hazell. The head coach is one of the good ones – he and Purdue deserved a break with their first Big Ten win in his era. Good for Purdue students and fans, who finally get to have a little bit of fun. Good for the players, who battled through a lost season to rise up and bust their tails for the win. Yeah, this stinks for Nebraska, but it’s always a good thing when a struggling program gets a moment of happy.
3. Mike Riley, is it the style?
Bo Pelini got pushed aside because he was too screamy and too strange, and it also didn’t help that his teams got steamrollered by Wisconsin on a regular basis. But it’s not about just being okay at Nebraska – it’s about playing for Big Ten championships with a spot in the College Football Playoff on the line. Mike Riley will be on the hottest of hot seats going forward, but now he needs to come up with something that provides hope. He and the team need to produce a big win showing that it’s just a question of the system working and the right breaks coming, and they’ll get their shot against Michigan State and Iowa in the next few weeks. After being close in the previous five losses, losing 55-45 to Purdue is different, and now the final three games will be a really big deal for the future of Nebraska football.