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#12 Penn State vs. #19 Nebraska Preview

Posted By Jeremy Hall On Nov 10 2011 @ 1:28 am In Penn State | 3 Comments

The Nittany Lions helped “JoePa” earn win number 409 two weeks ago by defeating the Fighting Illini 10-7 in a true Big Ten battle of wills. Penn State saved their best drive of the day for their final possession by putting together an 80 yard touchdown drive capped off by Silas Redd’s 3 yard scamper into the end zone. The Nittany Lion offense received a much needed shot in the arm when senior wide out, Derek Moye, entered the game (having missed the previous two contests with a foot injury) with 3:05 remaining in the contest. Moye’s impact was felt immediately as he caught a 20 yard pass to open what was ultimately the game winning drive. This win not only gave Penn State a two game lead in the Big Ten Leaders Division and improved their record to 8-1 (5-0 Big Ten) on the season but it moved coach Paterno past the legendary Eddie Robinson into second place on the All Time Coaching Victory List. The win should have augmented an already astonishing career in which the hall of fame coach’s ideals and values seemed to, at times, overshadow his on the field success. Coach Paterno has been the face of Penn State football for the past 46 years and was recognized as a great philanthropist and promoter of education during that time. In fact, Penn State consistently boasts a very high Graduation Success Rate from year to year. However, all of that changed when Penn State University was rocked by an unimaginable scandal a week after the historic win. Although coach Paterno followed the protocol put in place at Penn State University and satisfied his legal obligation, he betrayed his own principles by not fulfilling his moral obligation to ensure justice was served. It’s extremely disappointing to think that the ageless coach Paterno, who always wanted to leave on his own terms, was actually fired on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, just hours after announcing his retirement following the conclusion of this football season.

Penn State comes into this week’s game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers riding a 7 game win streak, 5 of those victories coming against Big Ten foes. The Nittany Lions would secure at least a tie for the Big Ten Leaders Division crown with a win this weekend. Penn State’s record is 14-5 following a bye week since 1994 and the Nittany Lions also own a 7-6 overall record over the Cornhuskers. Nebraska bested the Nittany Lions 18-10 in Lincoln the last time these two teams met back in 2003. However, this game is being played on Senior Day in Beaver Stadium where the Nittany Lions are now 43-7 over their last 50 home games. Penn State has also won 19 out the last 21 games on Senior Day.

The Cornhuskers would like nothing more than to defeat the Nittany Lions this weekend and build upon the success they have experienced so far in their inaugural Big Ten season. However, the Cornhuskers need to bounce back after suffering a disappointing 28-25 home loss to the Northwestern Wildcats last week which dropped their record to 7-2 (3-2 Big Ten) overall. This loss followed an impressive 24-3 win against a very good Michigan State team and Nebraska looks to improve their record against Big Ten adversaries this weekend. The Cornhuskers actually maintain a 34-7 overall record against Big Ten teams since 1970.

Important Factors For Penn State Success:
- Pound the Nebraska defense on the ground (Silas Redd has rushed for over 100 yards in 5 straight games) in order to put themselves in 3rd and makeable situations to take advantage of Nebraska’s 3rd down defense
- Win the field position battle by exploiting Nebraska’s weak kickoff and punt coverage teams
- Load up the box with 8 men to shut down Nebraska’s rushing attack (The Cornhuskers are averaging 252.13 yards/game)
- Have Gerald Hodges spy QB Taylor Martinez (Martinez has rushed for 712 yards on the season)

Important Factors For Nebraska Success:
- Force Penn State to throw the ball (the Nittany Lions are ranked 88th in Passing Offense this season)
- Capitalize on Red Zone scoring opportunities (Penn State has surrendered points on 91% of opponents’ drives in the Red Zone this season)
- Put long sustained drives together by converting on 3rd down and ultimately wear down the Nittany Lion defense

 

#12 Penn State Nittany Lions

#19 Nebraska Cornhuskers

 
Total Offense (yds/gm)

356.67 (88th)

349.44 (41st)

Total Defense
Rushing Yards/Game

162.44 (55th)

160.78 (64th)

Rushing Defense
Passing Yards/Game

194.22 (88th)

188.67 (20th)

Passing Defense
Sacks Allowed/Game

1.22 (24th)

1.56 (81st)

Sacks/Game
Giveaways

16 (63rd)

14 (73rd)

Takeaways
3rd Down Conversion %

37.12% (87th)

43.70% (94th)

3rd Down Conv. % Defense
Red Zone Scoring %

78% (81st)

78% (37th)

Red Zone Defense
Kickoff Return Average

24.65 (20th)

24.09 (99th)

Kickoff Return Avg. Against
Punt Return Average

6.34 (82nd)

14.43 (114th)

Punt Return Avg. Against
Points Scored/Game

21.78 (100th)

23.11 (40th)

Points Allowed/Game
Penalties Committed

44 for 380 (26th)

53 for 438 (58th)

Penalties Committed
Total Defense

282.33 (8th)

412.22 (53rd)

Total Offense (yds/gm)
Rushing Defense

111.89 (24th)

252.13 (9th)

Rushing Yards/Game
Passing Defense

170.44 (7th)

174.56 (101st)

Passing Yards/Game
Sacks/Game

2.56 (28th)

1.22 (24th)

Sacks Allowed/Game
Takeaways

22 (12th)

13 (33rd)

Giveaways
3rd Down Conv. % Defense

35.42 % (31st)

45.80% (37th)

3rd Down Conversion %
Red Zone Defense

91% (112th)

90% (15th)

Red Zone Scoring %
Kickoff Return Avg. Against

21.61 (65th)

27.13 (4th)

Kickoff Return Average
Punt Return Avg. Against

7.54 (67th)

9.14 (46th)

Punt Return Average
Points Allowed/Game

12.44 (3rd)

34.67 (27th)

Points Scored/Game

How I See It:

The Blackshirts come into this game angry with something to prove after giving up 28 points to Northwestern last week at home.  Nebraska is also extremely determined to maintain their position in the Big Ten Legends Division by defeating Penn State which would set the stage for next week’s showdown with Michigan.  I believe the Nittany Lions will keep the game close in the first half.  However, the off-field distractions circling at University Park will impede the Nittany Lions’ focus and in the end be too much to overcome. 

 Penn State 17 Nebraska 28

 

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