Scott Frost knows the view from the top of mountain at Nebraska, having led the Cornhuskers to a national title just over two decades ago. Unfortunately for the team’s current head coach, he also knows what it looks like at the program’s lowest point too.
Purdue racked 516 yards of offense in a 42-28 win and embarrassed many of the Big Red faithful who showed up to Memorial Stadium on Saturday as their team lost eight games in a row for the first time in the 129 year history of the school playing football.
David Blough continued his hot streak under center for the Boilermakers, throwing for 328 yards and a touchdown in mistake-free football for the team as they averaged over seven yards a play and scored on all six trips to the red zone. His arm helped open things up for the speedy playmakers with D.J. Knox running for 87 yards and two scores while freshman Rondale Moore managed 85 yards receiving. Brycen Hopkins also impressed against the Blackshirts with 103 yards on five catches with a score as well.
As for Nebraska, signal-caller Adrian Martinez showed flashes of greatness at times in trying to rally his team (especially coming out of halftime) but it just wasn’t enough in the end as they managed to record over 500 yards of offense (562 to be exact) for the second time in 2018. The true freshman still threw for 323 yards and two touchdowns (one interception) while rushing for another 91 more but seemed to press a bit more as the deficit grew early in the first half. Tailback Devine Ozigbo was also a nice bright spot with two scores and 170 yards rushing but there was only a single red zone trip for the offense to even feature him as they spent most of the day between the 20’s.
Things don’t get any easier for Frost’s team either as they’ll travel to face Big Ten West behemoth Wisconsin next and follow that up with another long road trip at Northwestern. The worst start to a season for the school was an 0-5 mark back in 1945 and it wouldn’t be out of the question to see that mark equalled (or exceeded) soon for the Cornhuskers.
That’s of no concern to opposite number Jeff Brohm, who helped Purdue win their first game ever in Lincoln and evened his record at the school to 9-9 overall. The team has certainly regained momentum with two in a row on the right side of the ledger after three close losses to open their 2018 campaign. While it might not be enough to make things interesting in the division, they’ll at least have a fighting chance at making another bowl game thanks in part to the victory on Saturday against the Huskers.
After a back-and-forth first half, things settled down in the second half of the first official Big Ten contest of the 2018 season. Northwestern (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) held on for a hard-fought road victory against Purdue (0-1, 0-1 Big Ten) on Thursday night, 31-27. Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
With Northwestern backed up in a third and long, Purdue appeared to make a key stop to force Northwestern to try a field goal in the final minutes. Instead, an unnecessary roughness penalty on Lorenzo Neal. Throwing Larkin, the ball carrier to the ground, led to a 15-yard penalty and allowed Northwestern an opportunity to run out the clock instead of getting the ball back to the Purdue offense for a chance to win the game.
Northwestern’s defense made the biggest plays to help lead the Wildcats to a road win, and the offense capitalized on those miscues in the first half. Three Purdue interceptions by quarterback Elijah Sindelar led to three Northwestern touchdowns as the Wildcats built a comfortable lead going to halftime. But the Boilermakers came out plugging away in the second half and slowly chipped away on offense while the defense made adjustments. Until a key fourth-quarter possession, Northwestern’s offense was unable to solve Purdue in the second half, allowing the home team to cut into the lead.
A quarterback rotation of Clayton Thorson and TJ Green had some ups and downs for Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Thorson started the game and played well before a planned switch to Green. The rotation continued through the night, with Green leading the fourth quarter drive that helped to seal the win for the Wildcats. Thorson completed 16 of 27 passes for 172 yards. Green completed 7 of 10 pass attempts for 63 yards but showed a little bit more mobility than Thorson at times to help spice things up.
Purdue’s defense got off to a rough start but hung around to get into a comfort zone. It just couldn’t come up with the stop it needed late in the fourth quarter. Northwestern was 6-for-16 on third downs.
Purdue had a bit of a breakout star in the making in running back Rondale Moore. The freshman led Purdue with 79 rushing yards and 109 receiving yards with one touchdown on the ground and one catch to go along with 125 kick return yards. If one game was a preview of what to expect this season, then Jeff Brohm has himself a versatile weapon on offense.
Both teams will get into their non-conference schedule next week. Northwestern will host Duke. Purdue hosts Eastern Michigan.
Clayton Thorson got the start for Northwestern and helped Northwestern take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter at Purdue. But a planned quarterback switch to TJ Green may have gotten in the way of some early momentum for the Wildcats as Purdue rallied to tie the game at 14-14 in a wild first quarter. Northwestern regained some control in the second quarter and leads Purdue, 31-17, at halftime of the Big Ten opener. The Wildcats have scored three touchdowns off three Purdue turnovers.
It was Northwestern’s defense making a play on the opening drive of the game when JR Pace picked off a pass from Boilermakers quarterback Elijah Sindelar. Eleven plays later, Northwestern took a 7-0 lead to capitalize off the turnover. Jeremy Larkin took the ball across the goal line on the ground. After a quick three-and-out by the Purdue offense, the Wildcats added another touchdown with John Moten IV running in from two yards out. The touchdown drive was highlighted by a 46-yard run by Larkin.
Purdue scored touchdowns on their next two offensive possessions and needed just seven plays between the two drives to cover 145 yards to the end zone. The game-tying score, at the time, was scored by Rondale Moore on a 76-yard play on a 3rd and 1.
Buckle up for the second half. This one could be a wild one.
The first early National Signing Day has come and gone, but there are still some high-level recruits left on the board. And many of them went off the board during today’s U.S. Army All-American Game.
Below are all the hat ceremonies that went down today in San Antonio.
Moultrie, Ga., 4-star outside linebacker J.J. Peterson chooses Tennessee:
Santa Ana, Calif., 4-star offensive guard Chris Murray picks UCLA:
Baton Rouge, La., 4-star safety Kelvin Joseph selects LSU:
Louisville, Ky., 4-star wide receiver Rondale Moore picks Purdue:
Bradenton, Fla., 5-star cornerback Brendan Radley-Hiles chooses Oklahoma:
Anaheim, Calif., 5-star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (and brother of former Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown) commits to USC:
And for those interested, here are highlights of the West’s 17-16 win over the East.