Recap: Nebraska vs. Purdue
Lincoln, NE (SportsNetwork.com) - The 17th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers overcame the loss of Heisman Trophy candidate Ameer Abdullah to post a 35-14 win over the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday.
Abdullah, who entered the weekend the nation's leading rusher with 1,249 yards, suffered a left knee injury in the first quarter.
"I think Ameer just has a mild sprain and a little bit of a bruise on the side where he got hit. We're very optimistic," said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini.
The Cornhuskers (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) are off next week before playing at Wisconsin on Nov. 15.
Imani Cross rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns in Abdullah's absence.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. had a touchdown pass and ran for another score, but threw two interceptions. He completed only 8-of-21 attempts for 118 yards while finishing with 70 yards on the ground.
Austin Appleby completed 18-of-46 passes for 216 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for Purdue (3-6, 1-4), which made its first trip to Lincoln.
"I thought our team did a good job in terms of coming here and being ready to play," said Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell. "I thought our defense played extremely well. We put them in way too many short field opportunities, our kicking game hurt us."
It was a rough start for the Boilermakers, who had a punt blocked after going three-and-out on the game's opening series.
Nebraska began its first drive at the Purdue 17, and Armstrong hooked up with De'Mornay Pierson-El for a touchdown on the second play.
Abdullah was hurt on the next Nebraska possession while diving to recover a fourth-down fumble by Armstrong at the Purdue 2-yard line. He returned with a brace over his knee and rushed once more for a 5-yard loss later in the first quarter before departing again for good.
The Boilermakers went three-and-out on each of their first four drives and were held to one first down in the opening quarter, but they were on the move early in the second stanza.
Purdue caught a break when Byerson Cockrell fumbled after picking off Appleby. Wide receiver Dan Monteroso made the recovery at the Nebraska 32, and Appleby atoned for the miscue by running for a 25-yard touchdown on a QB draw.
Nebraska answered with an eight-play drive capped by Cross' 2-yard TD run, and following a second blocked punt, Armstrong scored on a 29-yard run on 4th- and-4 to make it 21-7.
The Cornhuskers' defense then made a big play prior to halftime as Nate Gerry intercepted an Appleby pass in the end zone.
Armstrong was picked off near the goal line on the first drive of the third quarter, but Nebraska was able to extend its lead on 1-yard TD run by Cross with 4:19 left in the period.
A breakdown in coverage left Cameron Posey uncovered in the end zone, and he caught a 23-yard touchdown pass for Purdue early in the fourth quarter.
The Boilermakers' comeback hopes were strengthened when Armstrong was intercepted a second time by Landon Feichter with 9:32 remaining.
Purdue started from the Nebraska 36, but gained only five yards before Appleby threw incomplete on fourth down.
The Boilermakers wound up turning the ball over on downs on their final four possessions.
Terrell Newby had a 7-yard TD run for Nebraska with two minutes to play.Game Notes
Nebraska blocked two punts in a game for the first time since Oct. 25, 2003
against Iowa State ... Purdue's Akeem Hunt had 66 yards on 21 carries and
caught a game-high seven passes for 43 yards ... The Cornhuskers have won two
of the three meetings in the series.