Four keys from Nebraska's 42-28 loss to Purdue on Saturday, including a peculiar play, a questionable call and more.
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It looked like a sure touchdown for Purdue, then a potential touchdown for Nebraska. It ended as a 7-yard loss. In the first quarter, David Blough tossed a swing pass to Rondale Moore. Had the pass been on target, Moore likely would walk in. But it wasn’t. So Moore bobbled it like a beach ball until NU safety Antonio Reed, flying in, had a chance at the interception. Nope! Moore somehow got his hands on the ball for a catch and lost 7 yards. Purdue settled for a field goal on the drive.
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Devine Ozigbo brought his best Saturday. Ozigbo chugged for a career-high 170 yards on 17 carries, showing a burst and straightforward style lacking from Greg Bell. Maurice Washington, sick all week, didn’t play. When Washington returns, he’ll be in the mix, but Ozigbo’s performance marks him as NU’s top back heading into Wisconsin week. The best thing about Ozigbo is that he doesn’t try to dance around defenders. He finds the quickest path and drives through it. Bell played sparingly in relief. He still has a ways to go as a runner, and may not be a perfect fit for the spread system.
Nebraska was flagged for 11 penalties — including five personal fouls — Saturday, but none seemed bigger than a roughing-the-passer call on Freedom Akinmoladun that had Husker fans booing and coach Scott Frost livid at the officials. The call came on a third-and-20 — Purdue was ahead 35-21 and about to punt — and Akinmoladun appeared to be blocked into Blough. It wasn’t the reason NU lost — the defense was much too porous and overwhelmed — but it stymied a potential Husker comeback.
When quarterback Adrian Martinez got time, he did some damage with his arm, especially in the third quarter, when he threw a laser 21-yard touchdown to JD Spielman over tight coverage. Then he perfectly lofted a 33-yard pass to Jack Stoll in the fourth quarter. Martinez looked like the guy NU hoped it had when coaches recruited him before anyone else in the 2018 class. He struggled in the fourth quarter, throwing a costly interception, but accounted for 414 total yards. He was dynamic. He looked like the future.