WEST LAFAYETTE – All of the hype was just that.
Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said his team had some newfound energy after a bye week and wholesale changes in the Boilermakers offense and defense.
"I think our energy's a little bit better right now coming off some of the changes," Hazell said Tuesday. "That's real."
It didn't seem so Saturday, when Nebraska routed Purdue 44-7 at Ross-Ade Stadium.
A retooled offense, led by freshman Danny Etling in his first career start, was hapless. The defense suffered as a result, and even without starting quarterback Taylor Martinez, the Cornhuskers (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) racked up 435 yards.
Ameer Abdullah, who was eighth in the country with 138 yards per game entering Saturday, had 126 yards and a touchdown. His backup, Imani Cross, ran for 56 yards and two scores.
Purdue (1-5, 0-2) went the entire first quarter without a first down. It didn't cross into Nebraska territory until a pass interference penalty brought the Boilermakers to the Cornhuskers' 49 in the middle of the fourth quarter.
They turned the ball over on downs four plays later.
The loss gave the Boilermakers their first 1-5 start since Danny Hope's first season with the team in 2009. But that team had four losses by seven or fewer points during that start.
Hazell's squad has lost three straight games by 30 or more points and squeaked by Indiana State – a Football Championship Subdivision team that was without its starting running back – 20-14.
Purdue punted for more yards (306) than its offense gained (216).
Etling, who brought new life to the Boilermakers offense during its 55-24 loss to Northern Illinois, was 14 for 35 for 184 yards and threw an interception and a score.
The lone positive was that Hazell used eight freshmen in prominent roles Saturday, Etling included.
Receivers Dan Monteroso and DeAngelo Yancey, running back Dalyn Dawkins, defensive ends Jake Replogle and Evan Panfil and defensive tackle Ra'Zahn Howard will be part of pushing Purdue past this lost season in the years to come.
Yancey had five catches for 146 yards and a score, and freshman safety Austin Logan also had his first career interception.
Other than that, and three irrelevant interceptions by Purdue, there were no bright spots.
For more on this game, read Sunday's Journal Gazette or return to www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m.