The Nebraska Huskers fell to 0-4 on the season after losing to the Purdue Boilermakers 42-28 on Saturday, the team’s worst start to the season since 1945 when the Huskers started 0-5.
It’s also the team’s eighth consecutive loss, the longest losing streak in program history.
Despite the final score, the offense had a productive afternoon. Senior running back Devine Ozigbo ran for a career-high 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 17 carries.
Head coach Scott Frost talked about Ozigbo’s performance after the game
“Devine practiced better than anybody this week,” Frost said. “He was a warrior today, and I’ll go to battle with him anytime.”
Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez also had two touchdowns to go with his 323 pass yards, 103 rush yards and interception.
“I think Adrian grew up a bunch today,” Frost said. “I saw a guy today that looks like he kind of figured out he can win a game.”
Sophomore wide receiver JD Spielman was Martinez’s top target on the day, hauling in 10 catches for 135 yards. Spielman crossed the 1,000 career receiving yard mark in the first half. He accomplished the feat faster than any wide receiver in Nebraska history.
Performances like Spielman’s were wiped out by costly mistakes, the most notable being penalties. The Huskers racked up 136 penalty yards and were flagged 11 times in the game.
Frost said when the team shoots itself in the foot, the odds they must overcome become almost insurmountable.
“In three of our games we’ve played well enough to win,” Frost said. “Honestly, though, in my opinion, we looked like one of the most undisciplined teams in the country. I’m tired of coaching an undisciplined team.”
Nebraska’s offense got off to a quick start by taking the opening drive of the game down for a score. Ozigbo capped off the 75-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown run. Martinez looked sharp on the Huskers first drive, completing all three of his passes for 32 yards.
Senior guard Jerald Foster said the Huskers first drive showcased what the offense is capable of.
“It was great, we were moving the ball,” Foster said. “We get that first first down, it really does spring our offense”
Purdue answered right back with a score on its initial drive of the game. Senior running back D.J. Knox scored on a 42 yard touchdown run to tie the game at seven. Nebraska’s defense missed two tackles in the backfield on the run, a trend that would continue throughout the game.
Nebraska’s next drive stalled near midfield when the Huskers failed to convert a fourth and one. Purdue capitalized and on the first play of the ensuing possession, completed a 48 yard pass on a flea flicker to move deep into Nebraska territory.
The Blackshirts stiffened up in the red zone and forced the Boilermakers to settle for a field goal. Purdue would take that lead into the second quarter.
An unnecessary roughness penalty on Fostercurtailed Nebraska’s next drive and gave the ball back to Purdue. Two third-down conversions helped the drive along and Blough eventually punched in the touchdown on a one-yard quarterback sneak.
The two teams traded unsuccessful drives before Purdue went on a 12-play, 72-yard drive to extend its lead near the end of the half. Penalties on sophomores Marquel Dismuke and Dicaprio Bootle proved costly as the Boilermakers added a 25-yard field goal to extend the lead to 20-7. Nebraska nearly converted a field goal of its own to end the half, but freshman kicker Barret Pickering’s 54-yard effort fell short.
Purdue continued to hold the upper hand in the third quarter as a 12-yard touchdown pass from Blough to junior tight end Brycen Hopkins gave the Boilermakers a 27-7 lead midway through the third quarter. The Purdue touchdown drive was the first of six consecutive touchdown drives that lasted through the third and fourth quarter.
Nebraska drove down the field in just over two minutes, capped off by a 21-yard touchdown pass from Martinez to sophomore wide receiver JD Spielman. Purdue started right where it left off, with a 51-yard pass to Hopkins to put the team into Husker territory. A six-yard run by Knox re-extended the Purdue lead to 21 points.
Nebraska’s next offensive drive lasted less than a minute as a pass interference penalty and three long completions from Martinez brought the team down the field. A 21-yard touchdown pass to Spielman cut the deficit to 35-21 with 2:32 left in the third quarter.
Purdue’s next drive was marred by controversy as a roughing the passer penalty on senior defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun negated a third-down stop. The drive continued anyway and senior running back Markell Jones scored on a six-yard touchdown run.
The Huskers ran another two-minute drill to cut the lead to 42-28. Martinez completed three passes for 45 yards and Ozigbo managed to cap off the drive with a 23-yard rushing touchdown. Although the game never got closer than 42-28, Nebraska continued the threaten.
The Blackshirts forced a punt on Purdue’s next possession and Nebraska drove to midfield before Martinez’s pass was intercepted by Purdue. The Huskers forced a three-and-out and took over once again, but the ensuing drive stopped on a failed fourth-down conversion in Purdue territory.
A second consecutive Purdue three-and-out gave Nebraska another lifeline, but the Huskers once again could not finish a fourth-down play in Boilermaker territory. Purdue ran down the clock for the rest of the game, and Nebraska barely saw the ball again.
Nebraska’s 565 offensive yards were a season-high but the Huskers struggled on third and fourth down conversions once again. Nebraska went 4-12 on third down and a costly 0-3 on fourth down attempts.
“We were shredding them at times today,” Frost said. “This, I think is the second time we lost with almost 600 yards of offense, that’s not supposed to happen.”
Foster said in order to turn things around the players on the team must take more accountability for themselves.
“We played a great game, 500-some yards on offense and we couldn’t even get a win, that’s because we were making it too hard on ourselves,” Foster said. “It doesn’t matter how hard you fight if you keep putting yourself in a problematic situation.”