LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Heinrich Haarberg threw two touchdown passes, Quinton Newsome ran back a blocked field goal 68 yards for a score, and Nebraska turned in another stout defensive performance in a 31-14 victory over Purdue on Saturday.
The Cornhuskers (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) have won five of six games and are on a three-game win streak for the first time since 2016. Purdue (2-6, 1-4) lost its third straight.
The Huskers’ defense stood out once again on a cloudy, 37-degree afternoon with a feels-like temperature of 25. Nebraska allowed just 195 total yards, including 99 passing. It was Purdue’s fewest total yards in four seasons and fewest through the air since 2014.
Nebraska needed that kind of performance after losing four of five fumbles. Purdue converted two of them into touchdowns in the fourth quarter to cut into a 24-0 deficit.
The Huskers scored two touchdowns in less than two minutes in the second quarter to take control. Haarberg led a 15-play drive he ended with a 1-yard pass to Thomas Fidone. Tommi Hill had the first of his two interceptions of Hudson Card on Purdue’s next possession, and Haarberg hit Jaylen Lloyd in stride on first down for a 73-yard touchdown.
Haarberg fumbled twice inside his 25-yard line in the second half.
The first time, Dillon Thieneman stripped Haarberg and Cole Brevard recovered at the 13. Jimari Butler and MJ Sherman combined to sack Card on third down, so Ben Freehill came on to attempt a 37-yard field goal. Elijah Jeudy broke through to block the kick and Newsome picked up the ball with a clear path down the left sideline.
Newsome and Hill, running alongside him, high-fived as they reached the 10-yard line and continued their celebration in the end zone. It was the Huskers’ first return of a blocked field goal for a touchdown since 2014 against Minnesota.
Haarberg’s second fumble came at his own 24, with Brevard recovering it again. The Boilermakers converted this time, with Card taking a sack before finding Jayden Dixon-Veal for a 29-yard touchdown.
Jeff Sims played Nebraska’s next series and fumbled, and Kydran Jenkins ran it back 55 yards for a TD.
Emmett Johnson rushed for 74 yards for Nebraska, including a late 28-yard TD. Haarberg was 6 of 11 for 122 yards.
Devin Mockobee, who ran for a Purdue freshman-record 178 yards against Nebraska last year, carried seven times for 42 yards. Card was 16 of 32 for 100 yards.
Purdue: The Boilermakers face the daunting task of having to win their final four regular-season games to assure themselves of a bowl game for a third straight year.
Nebraska: The Huskers, after their first undefeated October since 2001, are right in the thick of the Big Ten West race and one win away from locking up bowl eligibility for the first time since 2016.
Purdue: visits No. 2 Michigan next Saturday.
Nebraska: visits Michigan State next Saturday.