Nebraska: 27 Purdue: 14
Offensive Player of the Game: De’Mornay Pierson-El
All of Nebraska’s wide receivers played exceptional today in filling the absent role of Jordan Westerkamp, but De’Mornay Pierson-El was the star. The junior logged three catches for 69 yards and found his way into the end zone for the first time this year off of a 40-yard conversion. It was nice to see the Virginia native not get haunted by his injury from a year ago (that happened against Purdue), and he ended playing his best well-rounded game on the season. Along with his catches, DPE was also involved on a key block on Armstrong Jr.’s touchdown run on the first play on offense, and he was also alert and involved on stopping Purdue’s fake punt.
Defensive Player of the Game: Kieron Williams
It’s very tough not to give this to Josh Banderas (13 tackles), but Williams was the spark the Blackshirts needed today. Williams made his presence known on the first play of the game when he snagged an interception to set up a Husker touchdown. The junior safety ended up with two interceptions on the day against a Purdue team that leads the Big Ten in passing. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder also recorded four tackles, a statistic that he is leading the entire team in with 47 on the year. He could have easily had three interceptions.
The Moment It Was Over:
Terrell Newby’s 25-yard run on the Huskers’ final drive on offense squeezed the remaining life this Boilermaker team had out of their system. After looking like he was stopped after just a few yards, the senior I-back kept his balance and ended up picking up a first down. Though it was already a 27-14 game, this play deflated Purdue’s defense and continued to milk the clock for the Huskers.
Quote To Note:
"I think that this is really a good group when you talk about our receiving corps and you include all of those guys, I think that's appropriate. I think besides being a good group of people that can make plays, it is in that area of catching passes and making plays. It is our deepest area on the team. It would not normally be very easy to fill in for Jordan Westerkamp and Cethan Carter and make it look like football at all. But, we have enough guys that can make plays that we can do that. I really like this group."
What A Nebraska Win Means:
A win for Nebraska puts the Huskers at a 7-0 and 4-0 in the Big Ten. The Huskers have increased their lead in the Big Ten West, and remain as one of the few unbeaten teams in the country. A win would also mark Mike Riley’s best start to a season at Nebraska.
· * It was a tale of two halves for Tommy Armstrong Jr. After starting out hot through the air and on the ground, the senior struggled for the remainder of the first half. The Texas native ended the first half 9-of-18, with just 94 yards and an ugly interception to send them into the locker room. The senior quarterback finished the second half going 8-13, 158 yards and a touchdown. His 17 total completions set a new Nebraska record career completions at 577. It was evident that he missed some open targets and threw into coverage, but Armstrong bounced back well after that interception and appears to be fully healed from his injury.
* Penalties could end up costing Nebraska one of these days. After playing a perfect game in the first half, the Huskers were flagged seven times in the second half for a total of 67 yards. This has been an issue all season for this Nebraska squad and with the heart of their schedule up next, it could end up being a deciding factor in one of those games.
* The Blackshirts continue to impress on the year, especially in the secondary. Collectively, the Huskers’ secondary finished with two interceptions and six pass breakups. The defensive line also got pressure in the second half of the game, where they logged three sacks on the day. Nebraska also recorded four tackles behind the line of scrimmage, which aided them in holding Purdue to just 24 yards on the ground for the whole game.
* Caleb Lightbourn had a great day punting. Lightbourn logged a season-high three punts inside the 10, including one at the 2-yardline. His final punt was blocked, but overall, the true freshman pinned Purdue deep when his team needed it the most.
* Josh Banderas was all over the field today and played his best game of the year. After recording 11 tackles last week at Indiana, the senior captain had a season-high 13 tackles. It’s good to finally see the Lincoln native put all the pieces together in his final season, and it looks as if he has carried some momentum heading into the heart of Nebraska’s schedule.
* The Huskers digressed in their defensive plan to shut down big plays as they allowed a 44-yard completion to set up a Purdue, and also gave up an 88-yard touchdown on a third down.
* Drew Brown continues to have a great year on special teams. The junior hit two field goals, his second being a career-long 51-yarder in the 4th quarter. The Texas native is now 7-of-9 this season, and has 42 career field goals made, which lands him fourth all-time for the Huskers.
* Nebraska’s offensive line is hurt and it’s very obvious. The Huskers could not get a push up front for the most part, which eliminated their running game and changed their offensive scheme. Nebraska ended the day with 157 yards on the ground, but at the cost of playing with hurt men up front. David Knevel left the game for the second straight week with an injury, and both Dylan Utter and Nick Gates were playing through injuries.
· * It’s pretty clear that Nebraska owns the 4th quarter (at least, for now). Nebraska shut out Purdue and scored 10 points of their own. The Cornhuskers have now outscored their opponents 98-13 through seven games which leads the country in fourth-quarter differential at +85.