Nebraska has uphill climb just to reach bowl eligibility after another disappointing loss

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez (2) falls to his knees after failing to pick up a first down against Purdue during the second half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Purdue defeated Nebraska 31-27. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Nebraska’s disappointing 2019 season just got worse.

The Huskers dropped to 4-5 with a brutal 31-27 road loss to Purdue on Saturday. It marked the Huskers’ third straight defeat. And with Wisconsin and Iowa still on the schedule, Scott Frost’s program has an uphill climb back to a bowl game for the first time since 2016.

Nebraska actually jumped out to a 10-0 lead over Purdue, but allowed an injury-plagued Boilermakers team to take a 14-10 lead by halftime. It was a back-and-forth affair from there, and Nebraska took a 27-24 lead with 4:21 to play.

By that point in the game, Purdue was down to its third-string quarterback after Jack Plummer went down with an injury. But it wouldn’t matter. Aidan O’Connell, Purdue’s walk-on third-stringer, led his team right down the field for the game-winning score. The Boilermakers marched 82 yards in 12 plays and scored the winning touchdown on a great play call by coach Jeff Brohm.

Brohm, known for calling his fair share of trick plays, pulled out a reverse to talented freshman wideout David Bell on third-and-5 from the Nebraska 9-yard line. The Nebraska defense did not see it coming, and Bell cruised in for the game-winning score.

Nebraska — which turned two blocked punts into a total of three points earlier in the game — would regain possession with 1:08 to go, but the Adrian Martinez-led offense quickly turned it over on downs, sealing the win for Purdue. Martinez, back after missing two games with injury, struggled all afternoon. Seemingly hobbled, Martinez did not look to exploit the defense with his running ability like he usually does.

Though he ended up running for 58 yards and two scores, Martinez forced way too many throws and finished the afternoon 22-of-39 for 247 yards and an interception. He probably should have had at least two others.

Huskers continue to disappoint in Frost’s second season

It was yet another underwhelming outcome in Frost’s second season. Frost talked all offseason about how much better the Huskers would be in his second year running the football program at his alma mater. But it has been far from that.

The preseason hype surrounding the Huskers proved unjustified by Week 2. The Huskers barely beat South Alabama, one of the worst teams in the Sun Belt, in Week 1. That preceded an overtime loss to Colorado. From there, there was a near-loss to Illinois, a demolition at the hands of Ohio State, an ugly win over an offensively challenged Northwestern team and then three straight defeats to Minnesota, Indiana and Purdue.

But hey, at least Frost’s players didn’t wear hoodies during warmups this week.

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