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Nebraska Now Has An Opportunity To Show Progress and The Morning After

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Nebraska v Purdue Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Exactly what we expected.

We all expected Nebraska to go up 17-0 with 5:59 remaining in the first quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers.

No, we did not expect that to happen.

The start of the second half began with an 11 play 75 yard touchdown drive by Nebraska instead of an immediate three-and-out.

No, we did not expect that to happen.

Nebraska’s defense then gives up two touchdowns with the help of Purdue punt block. The second touchdown of the second half for Purdue was an 89 yard touchdown pass by David Bell. On the play Cam Taylor-Britt was in a great position to break up the pass. However, that potential pass breakup was moot as Nebraska junior safety Marquel Dismuke takes out his teammate instead of making a play on the ball. Taylor-Britt and Dismuke both were laying on the ground as Bell scampered to the end-zone to make it a seven point game. The “collapse” was on.

We absolutely expected this to happen.

Then Nebraska bowed up on defense and did enough on offense to figure out a way to win by 10.

I was not expecting that to happen.

What was I expecting? I was expecting Nebraska’s offense to come to a screeching halt and Nebraska’s defense was going to hang on for dear life in a hope that Nebraska could sneak out a win.

That didn’t happen. Nebraska instead took on a little adversity and settled in and won the game comfortably.

It feels like there is progress happening in front of us. I could be wrong. We shall see. All of this progress could be negated if we end up laying an egg next week against Minnesota. It could be two steps forward and then two steps back. Or it could be two steps forward and then an additional two steps forward. Nebraska hasn’t done that in quite some time.

Hopefully at this time next week we will have played a football game against Minnesota. They are still dealing with COVID-19 concerns. If Nebraska takes care of business then that would make it two wins in a row. Nebraska hasn’t done that since beating Northern Illinois and Illinois in back-to-back weeks in 2019.

It would mean that Nebraska beat a Purdue team that has now lost four games in a row and beat a Minnesota team which doesn’t appear to be particularly bought into playing football in 2020.

It wouldn’t mean that Nebraska beat a particularly good football team. They simply would have done what they were supposed to do.

At this point I would consider that to be progress.


The Morning After

Instead of Ways to Let It Slip, Huskers Find Plays to Hold on in 37-27 Win Over Purdue | Hail Varsity - Nebraska Football, Recruiting, News
Fitting that a strange day should end in a strange way.

Not strange in that the end result was unwanted. Strange in that Nebraska has been searching for this, and searching for it consistently, for so long to no avail. Head coach Scott Frost has been trying to find this since returning to Lincoln. Strange that such a potentially momentous win comes for just the second time in six games and comes in an empty stadium with a team occupying the other locker room that’s also now just 2-4, but this one felt like a moment.

Husker Defense May Have the Start of Something Here Near the End of 2020
“They’re going to do a lot of stuff on offense,” was how Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander put it earlier this week. Purdue gives opposing defenses a little bit of everything, slick play calls and all the window dressing you can want.

The Boilermakers also boast two of the best receivers in the country. Rondale Moore and David Bell have now played 37 games combined at Purdue. One of them has hit for 100-plus yards receiving in a game 20 times and Jeff Brohm.

The Huskers found the winning way when the weird showed up
The Weird was lurking, ready perhaps to sour spirits again.

Do not mistake it. The weirdness has most often been Nebraska's own doing, the absolute wrong thing pile-driving the wind out of the Huskers at the absolute wrong time. Having seen it enough in many different forms, it is the reason NU faithful were no doubt prepping for the worst after a blocked punt just gave away three points at the end of the half Saturday, or when two Huskers ran into each other and a Purdue receiver scooted 89 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Game Balls: Who stood out against Purdue?
Nebraska had plenty of deserving candidates in its 37-27 win on Saturday, but we found a few standouts we wanted to reward with game balls. Right from the beginning we saw Levi Falck show up with a big blocked punt on special teams, and then throughout the contest Nebraska's defensive line like Garrett Nelson and Ben Stille provided pressure on Jack Plummer, forcing the Purdue offensive line to start holding and changing how the officials viewed it. Then there was reliable Connor Culp, who knocked through three field goals and four extra points in the win.

Chatelain: Even on the good days, Nebraska football is the best drama on TV | Football | omaha.com
On the good days, the emotional roller coaster somehow makes the experience fulfilling.

Yes, Nebraska football is beekeeping without a mask. It’s a unicycle ride on a tightrope over a lion’s den. It’s parenting a 3-year-old after a midnight snack of Fun Dip and Kool-Aid. It’s never, ever easy. Or dull. Or sane.

'It was bizarre': Nebraska makes most out of strange drive, sealing win over Purdue | Football | omaha.com
Sometimes, life — and football — lines up just so. And you’ve got the cleanest, clearest path possible to a goal.

Levi Falck had that moment about three breaths into Nebraska’s 37-27 win over Purdue on Saturday afternoon. The Husker wide receiver lined up on the punt return unit. NU coaches called for a block, Falck rushed in, nobody in a black uniform touched him and he laid out right in front of punter Brendan Cropsey.

Ba-dum! That was the sound the block made. Nebraska recovered the ball at Purdue’s 1. It scored on its first offensive play two seconds later. It led 17-0 nine minutes into the game.

That’s livin’ right.

Here are the final takes and grades following Nebraska's win at Purdue on Saturday.
A year ago Nebraska was in a very similar position at Purdue.

The Boilermakers started flat and spotted the Cornhuskers 10 points. However, the score probably should've been much worse than 10-0, and Purdue came back with14 unanswered points to retake the lead at halftime.

Déjà vu - Purdue 27 Nebraska 37 - Just another Saturday in the Brohm Era - Hammer and Rails
To no surprise. Purdue lost a football game in which it was favored in.

Rinse, Wash, Repeat.

Sound familiar? That’s because it happened last week vs Rutgers, which is just one of many examples in what is now becoming an underachieving Jeff Brohm Era at Purdue and the week before at Minnesota.

A Little Recruiting News

About Those Holding Calls