- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 3, 2015

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Suddenly, and somewhat unexpectedly, the Purdue football program has a pulse.

The Boilermakers snapped a nine-game Big Ten Conference losing skid this past Saturday with a 55-45 victory against Nebraska. Purdue also ended a five-game skid overall as redshirt freshman David Blough threw for 274 yards and four touchdowns and added another score on the ground with 86 yards rushing. It was the Boilermakers’ first Big Ten home victory since defeating Indiana 56-36 on Nov. 24, 2012.

Purdue (2-6, 1-3) will play struggling Illinois (4-4, 1-3), which has lost three in a row going into Saturday’s game in West Lafayette.

Illinois has scored only 33 points in its past 12 quarters. A Purdue victory would give Darrell Hazell’s team a chance to finish the season with some much-needed momentum. He is 2-18 in Big Ten play.

“For the first time, collectively, we made a lot of plays in all three units,” Hazell said Tuesday. “Now, it’s very important to handle success well. That’s all part of the learning process. Part of that is coming back to work and making sure we do all the things a little bit better than we did the previous time out.”

Junior wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey, who caught five passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns against Nebraska, said the Boilermakers are excited about the month of November.

“It felt good,” Yancey said. “We talked all week about how hard work can only go so far. We work so hard, and (against Nebraska), the lights came on, and we did it. I am proud of my team.”

Beginning with the 1994 season, Purdue is 11-4 against Illinois. A homecoming victory Saturday would relieve some of the fan pressure directed at Hazell’s 6-26 overall record.

“Everything we do from this point on is critically important,” Hazell said. “You want them to feel confident with their success that they just recently had, but again, you want them to make sure they stay extremely aggressive and hungry in their approach throughout their preparation.”

Purdue will be attempting to win back-to-back Big Ten home games for the first time since the 2011 season when it defeated Illinois 21-14 on Oct. 22 and Ohio State 26-23 in overtime on Nov. 12.

Overall, the Boilermakers have not won consecutive home games since the 2012 season when they defeated Eastern Michigan and Marshall.

“Any time you can defend your home territory, it’s a good thing, and you get your fans behind you,” Hazell said of the opportunity against Illinois. “You create that buzz in the stadium that you love to have. Our students and our fans were excellent (against Nebraska).”

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