LINCOLN — In the fourth quarter, Nebraska's Terrell Newby did his usual Terrell Newby thing.
He broke off a couple of nice runs with NU leading 27-14, salting away another second-half comeback for Nebraska.
For the better part of four quarters, however, the Nebraska running game was unable to get much going.
NU finished with a paltry 157 yards on the ground on 37 carries, with nearly half of those yards coming from Newby in the fourth quarter. Newby finished with 82 yards rushing, with 65 coming in the final period.
Much of the struggle could be attributed to injuries in the offensive line. Nick Gates, David Knevel and Dylan Utter all were banged up. It was questionable almost up to game time wither Knevel and Gates would play.
Nebraska Head Coach Mike Riley said the lack of a running game changed the game plan.
"I think that it really hurts what has been kind of the formula — the recipe for this team when we gain one yard or none on the first down," he said.
"We were doing so well on third-down conversions as late as a couple of weeks ago. As we all know, that's a great stat, but it's also a product of doing pretty good on first and 10. If you can gain five or six yards on first down, it changes the opportunity a lot more to be a better third down team."
Tommy Armstrong, who has been nursing a sore ankle, was fairly limited in the run game. He finished with 51 yards on 10 carries, including a 22-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
In addition, running back Devine Ozigbo didn't play Saturday against Purdue.
Nebraska finished with 409 yards of total offense, but Riley said he was concerned about his team's lack of consistency on offense all game long. Much of that was attributed to the struggles on the ground.
"Things got a little better as we went," Riley said, "and we did some plays that were nice looking, but those came late. There was no consistency early, there was nothing that we didn't say, OK, this is what we can rely on."
On defense, Riley said he was pleased with how his team adjusted after Purdue hit a big pass play in the first half.
"We gave up a monster 90-yard pass play, so you're playing right up their alley," he said.
"The one thing you cannot do with a team like that is give up big plays, and then we start the game like that. That play is what really caused everything to be like it was for so long. That pumped them up totally and gave them some confidence...I'm still proud of our guys. I think we still play our best ball as the game goes on, and we did what we had to do to win in the second half and fourth quarter of the game."
Despite the struggles in the run game, it is Nebraska's first 7-0 start since 2001 when NU was 11-0.
Nebraska has won eight straight games overall, marking the Huskers’ longest win streak since winning 13 straight games spanning the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
The 7-0 start is the first of Mike Riley’s college coaching career and marks the longest win streak of Riley’s college career.
Nebraska improved to 4-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since the Huskers joined the conference.
Overall, it is Nebraska’s first 4-0 start in conference play since beginning 7-0 in Big 12 play in 2001.