My son was asleep. My wife was too. Usually that means I have to be relatively quiet when watching football. Last night’s Nebraska game at Purdue didn’t give me a whole lot of reason to cheer. I stayed off Twitter, but I’m sure most of the fan reaction was “we are going to lose at Purdue for the second straight trip.”
Then something changed.
I don’t know if it was the insertion of Jaylin Bradley into the offense. The run game wasn’t there most of the night. So perhaps the limited film Purdue may have had on the true freshman from Bellevue played into Nebraska’s gameplan. Bradley finished with seven carries for 42 yards on the ground and three catches for 31 yards.
Maybe Danny Langsdorf found a way to get the most out of his much-talked about quarterback, as Tanner Lee was masterful down the stretch, leading Nebraska to two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, including the game-winning score with 14-seconds left.
Anyway, you know how the game went. And when Nebraska took the 25-24 lead in the closing seconds, I cheered...silently. But I cheered nonetheless.
So let’s take a look around and see what others had to say about the game. It will be nice to read about a little less wailing and gnashing of teeth for a week.
It wasn’t pretty. Man, it got ugly. But in the end, this 25-24 win over Purdue worked for a beat-up coach and his maligned team.
You wanted this team to show fight? It did. You wanted the Huskers to show that they cared? They did.
You wanted Riley to submit his resignation? He gave his answer in the postgame locker room when he told his team “you never, never, never, never quit. Now let’s go build on this.”
Always calm, always understated, Cool Hand Lee rescued the Huskers’ season and coach Mike Riley’s tenure — at least for one week — with a stirring 25-24 comeback win over the Boilermakers. For all the sloppiness in NU’s game — the 95 penalty yards, the nonexistent run blocking, the shoddy tackling on defense — Lee’s 431 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns left Nebraska coaches and players celebrating like they haven’t this season.
Teammates believe in Lee, in part because he never gets mad and always stays calm.
“T. Lee’s like a coach on the field,” Morgan said. “You get in the huddle and you’re at attention. ‘Yes sir.’ He was fighting all game. Even when we came in at half, he was ready. Before the game, he was ready.”
As for Nebraska's 25-24 comeback win? Well, it felt a bit awkward. Some folks who bleed Husker red won't like it. Those are the folks who are hoping for a change in leadership in an enormously proud football program.
However, I hope even those folks — the ones who have given up on third-year head coach Mike Riley — can find it within themselves to appreciate this triumph.
"Write about that sh--!!" a Nebraska recruiting assistant shouted while glaring my way as he ran toward the locker room.
Devine Ozigbo with what I’m calling “The Quote of the Postgame!”
"Jaylin went dumb today, and I liked it," junior running back Devine Ozigbo said. "Jaylin's going to be a beast here. He's just going to grow and continue to get better, and I think people saw that today."
We erased their timeouts with a couple of runs, then took the clock down to 1:29 before having to punt.
It should have been enough, but we gave them a chance. A beleaguered pass defense that had bent, but not broken, then broke. Joe Schopper only managed 37 yards on the punt and Lee went 70 yards in 8 plays. He completed 7 of 8 passes, the final going 13 yards to Stanley Morgan Jr. for the game winner. It broke Purdue hearts, and a game that was all but won was lost.
So how should we feel? Purdue has three legitimate victories, four moral ones, and one stinkbomb at Rutgers. There is little doubt that we’re a much better football team from a year ago. We have seen tangible improvement on both sides of the ball, but it seems that depth and talent are wearing on us as the calendar turns to November.
That final drive was something Nebraska has practiced all year, too. In those final moments, though? Lee did exactly what Langsdorf needed him to do.
“I thought Tanner did a great job of checking the ball down and guys really clued into getting out of bounds,” Langsdorf said. “We didn’t have a timeout, so we were really under the gun that way with time, and they just did a nice job of finding the completion and getting out of bounds. It was really well done.”
Overall, Langsdorf was more than happy with the decisions Lee made through the whole game. Even under pressure, he saw Lee do his best to get rid of the ball and handle situations under duress. He was sacked twice, but did not throw a single interception.
And let’s take a look at twitter...because that’s always a good place to look for rational thought.
#Nebraska QB Tanner Lee in Sept: 9 INTs, 229 yards passing per game. Tanner Lee in Oct: 1 INT, 332 yards passing per game.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) October 29, 2017
Five Heart? I think so. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/GHZSc7XPNt— Five Hearts for BT (@5heartpodcast) October 29, 2017
You have to have this...
FIND A WAY STAN‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/SznpIwVxpy— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) October 29, 2017
...before you can have this:
And we hope the ladies on the Husker volleyball team can overcome this morning’s obstacle to get that win later today.
So...Fly the W, right?