Purdue defeated an 0-3 team Saturday. But for the Boilermakers, getting their first victory at Memorial Stadium was still big.
“I think it’s a huge win for us,” said coach Jeff Blohm. “I don’t care what Nebraska’s record is, coming into this venue against a football team that’s on the ropes a bit and came out swinging. We were able to match that punch-for-punch and get the lead a little. Every team in our conference is going to be a challenge. Anytime you go on the road is going to be a challenge. When you play here in this historic venue where it’s sold out 364 games in a row, that’s impressive.”
Quarterback David Blough shared Blough’s view of the victory.
“It’s big, it’s big for our program,” Blough said. “Nebraska, no matter what, at home, is a tough team to beat, whatever their record is. We knew we had to come, do the little things right, take care of the football. We had some penalties go our way. I think it ended up showing the performance our offense had in us and our defense played great down at the end of the game and won the game for us.”
The win came a year and a day after Nebraska beat Purdue 25-24, the last win for the Huskers, who are mired in an eight-game losing streak.
The difference between Purdue’s performance in last year’s loss to the Mike Riley-coached Huskers and this year’s win against Scott Frost's team was simple, Blough said, even if the defensive schemes were very different.
“Our guys made some plays,’ he said. “That’s the difference between this year and last year. Last year we didn’t make very many plays. We couldn’t throw the ball very well last year versus them. It helps when you get a freshman like Rondale Moore who can beat man coverage, that’s what they like to do a lot. They had to take two guys to him and (Brycen) Hopkins has a big day.”
Hopkins finished the game with five catches for 103 yards and an early third-quarter touchdown that put the Boilermakers up 27-7, a three-score lead that Nebraska could never cut to less than 13 points the rest of the game.
His biggest catch, however, came on Purdue’s next scoring drive, as he hauled in a bomb from Blough and wound up 51 yards down the field, setting up the touchdown that put the Boilermakers up 35-14 and the game out of reach.
“It feels like the ball’s going in slow motion,” Hopkins said of the long pass. “I’ve just got to slow everything down. It’s scary and exciting at the same time, you’re nervous, you’re anxious, you’ve got to catch it, secure it and get as many yards as you can.”
The connection with Hopkins was Blough’s longest completion on the day, when he went 25-of-42 for 328 yards and the touchdown to Hopkins. He attributed much of his passing success to the play of the Boilers' offensive line.
“One sack on 40 dropbacks is a good job by our line,” Blough said. “Believe it or not, I feel great right now. I feel fantastic, and it’s because the offensive line did their job. We only gave up one sack and there were a couple penalties for some roughing, but I really didn’t get hit. They were fantastic.”
Penalties were key in a game in which Nebraska outgained Purdue but was flagged for 59 more penalty yards.
And Purdue, Brohm said, responded each time Nebraska made a run, matching the Huskers touchdown-for-touchdown in the third and early fourth quarters.