Game Day: Nebraska vs. Penn State

Down but not out

When Nebraska receiver Quincy Enunwa gathered fellow seniors Tuesday to discuss a week of preparation for Saturday's tilt at Penn State, he didn't mince words: Don't simmer in disappointment. Shoddy play in Happy Valley in front of a Big Ten Network audience could make a season full of injuries and misfires even harder to stomach. "It's about pride," Enunwa said. "If you don't play for pride, you shouldn't be playing at all. At this point in the season, we're not going to make it to the championship game, so you have to play for pride."

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2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. Penn State rush defense

Penn State was considered as strong up front as any Big Ten team starting the season, but the Nittany Lions are only in the middle of the pack in rushing defense (144 yards per game, 3.9 per carry). Nebraska hasn’t topped 200 yards the past four games but continues to get reliable production from I-back Ameer Abdullah, who hurt PSU a year ago. Edge: NU

Nebraska pass offense vs. Penn State pass defense

Nebraska is completing just 52.8 percent of its throws in Big Ten play and there have been timing and communication issues of late (some costly). Tommy Armstrong has as many interceptions as touchdown passes (seven of each), and NU will protect him with a pieced-together line. PSU wins here if it can put the Huskers in obvious passing downs. Edge: PSU

Penn State rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

NU seems to be improving, but the fact remains that the Huskers aren’t far removed from Minnesota and Northwestern hanging a combined 516 yards and six TDs on their run defense over back-to-back Saturdays. PSU is more steady than flashy with Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak, but will commit to it (40-plus attempts per game). Edge: NU

Penn State pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

True freshman Christian Hackenberg is getting more comfortable in Bill O’Brien’s offense, and it doesn’t hurt to have the best receiver in the Big Ten in Allen Robinson. Nebraska has turned up its pass rush in recent weeks, led by defensive end Randy Gregory, but has just one interception in the past four games after getting 11 in the first six. Edge: PSU

Special teams

Nebraska can’t afford any repeat of last week, which included a fumbled return, a punt being downed on its 1-yard line and Michigan State executing a fake field goal. NU also has gone backward with its net punting average, from No. 16 before the Minnesota game to No. 46 now. Neither team is very explosive in its return game. Edge: PSU

Intangibles

Penn State has the fewest penalty yards in the Big Ten, but like NU is on the negative side in turnover margin. The Lions, though, are going for a winning record and should be charged up on Senior Day. NU needs to summon the right response after being eliminated from the Legends Division race last week. Edge: PSU

Key matchup: Allen Robinson vs. Nebraska's cornerbacks

Few teams have slowed down Allen Robinson, the Nittany Lions’ junior receiver who leads the Big Ten in catches (81) and receiving yards (1,204). Nebraska can choose to challenge him with Stanley Jean-Baptiste or mix in Ciante Evans and Josh Mitchell — but the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Jean-Baptiste is the one who can match Robinson’s size (6-3, 210).

Nebraska wins if ...

... It takes care of the football and does the potential damage it can do offensively.

Penn State wins if ...

... It rides the emotional wave available to it and puts together a balanced offensive game.

Our take

Penn State hasn’t shown up offensively a couple of times and can be had defensively. All that said, just enough other things might be going its way. With a lot of the above categories pretty close, some of it simply could come down to which freshman quarterback plays better, and Hackenberg will have 100,000-plus fans behind him.

Our prediction: Penn State 28, Nebraska 27

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Listen: BRT Podcast

In this week’s edition of “The Big Red Today Podcast,” Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon discuss those problems before breaking down Saturday’s matchup with Penn State. They also talk about Ameer Abdullah’s impressive season, the banged-up offensive line, the improving linebackers and NU’s blitz schemes. Click here »

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Big Red Today coverage

Quarter by quarter: Minnesota 28, Nebraska 24

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa recap the key plays in each quarter of Nebraska's loss to Minnesota.

* * *

First quarter

Mitch Leidner: Minnesota starts the game with ...

Nebraska-Minnesota: Five things we learned, don't know

Five things we learned and five things we still don’t know coming out of Saturday's Nebraska-Minnesota football game.

* * *

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED

1. Nebraska’s inability to deliver ...

‘No loss is easy to take, especially in this state’

LINCOLN — Inside Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon, fans dressed in maroon and gold were mingling about, taking pictures and celebrating a big road win. Life was good.

Outside, many of ...

Shatel: Writing's on the wall for Husker coach Bo Pelini

LINCOLN — This is the part where this computer is supposed to spit out fire and brimstone.

But there’s really nothing left to say.

This was the part where you ...

Nebraska-Minnesota: Tracking the Husker offense, defense

World-Herald staff writer Rich Kaipust takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' 28-24 loss to Minnesota.

* * *

TRACKING THE HUSKER OFFENSE

The ...

Video: Husker postgame press conference

Replay video from the the Nebraska-Minnesota postgame press conference with coach Bo Pelini and players Tommy Armstrong and Nate Gerry.

Gophers rally past Huskers; Pelini says NU 'didn't deserve to win'

LINCOLN — The Land of 10,000 Lakes has produced a team that can break 10,000 Husker tackles.

Nebraska had its chances. Minnesota made the plays. The Gophers won 28-24 ...

Husker Talk Live: Postgame chat replay

Replay Saturday's postgame edition of the "Husker Talk Live" chat with staff writer Jon Nyatawa to track the reaction to the Nebraska-Minnesota game.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Game ...

Notes: Pelini says deep pass on second-and-1 a 'bad call'

LINCOLN — Midway through the fourth quarter, with Nebraska leading 24-21 and humming along with its ground game, NU offensive coordinator Tim Beck dialed up a deep pass on second-and-1 at ...

‘Leaky yards’ lead to long drives for Gophers

LINCOLN — Leaky yardage.

Those pesky yards gained by Minnesota after a missed tackle or a blown or poorly executed assignment were cited by Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and Husker defenders ...

From the sidelines: Husker fans wake up to see seniors off

LINCOLN — A week after a disheartening loss at Wisconsin, the energy and enthusiasm inside Memorial Stadium were muted before Saturday’s game.

Plenty of seats in the student section and ...

Gophers go from afterthought to thinking of a title

LINCOLN — Donnell Kirkwood said the magnitude of what Minnesota had just done and what was ahead took little or no time to sink in Saturday.

The Golden Gophers didn’t ...

NU escapes NC State behind Green’s major

Competing in two locations in North Carolina on Saturday, the Nebraska wrestling team came away with a sweep of a pair of duals.

The win over Duke was a blowout ...

Chatelain: Football gods now smiling elsewhere

LINCOLN — The Tunnel Walk song blared over the North Stadium speakers. Ninety thousand people rose to their feet, clapping in unison. Nebraska’s offense huddled near its sideline, waiting to ...

Shatel: You — yes, you, Husker fans — must bounce back, too

Hey, good morning. Yes, you with the Nebraska football tickets.

You getting up at 7 a.m. to load up the car? Got the heavy coat, the gloves, the hat ...

Barfknecht: Two weeks remain, and the West is still wild

After all the things written about the Big Ten’s ability to screw up scheduling, regardless of sport, you’ve got to like that it lucked out on these final ...

Well-grounded Gophers: Kill’s group can trip up teams with talent

LINCOLN — Ohio State had Minnesota down 14-0 and 31-14 at different points last Saturday, and history might have suggested that the Big Ten bully with all of the talent and ...

Patience pays off for Husker senior Joey Felici

LINCOLN — Answering the questions was always awkward for Joey Felici.

The Nebraska walk-on had made it into just one football game — very briefly against Idaho State in 2012 — through four ...

Husker notes: Pelini proud of nephew Mark’s commitment to program

LINCOLN — Coach Bo Pelini’s not sure how he’ll react the moment Saturday that his nephew Mark is honored as part of Nebraska’s senior day festivities.

The senior ...

Husker seniors focused on win, won’t get lost in moment

LINCOLN — Save the nostalgia for after the season. Nebraska’s seniors are approaching Saturday’s home finale focused solely on getting a win.

There will be a day when the ...

Gophers powering way into Big Ten West picture

LINCOLN — Melvin Gordon has speed. Ameer Abdullah has moves. Indiana’s Tevin Coleman has a little of both.

The fourth guy on the Big Ten’s Mount Rushmore of 2014 ...

Kenny Bell: Getting wrapped up in scores and statistics 'will make you miserable'

LINCOLN — As important as it might be for the Nebraska seniors to go out with a bang on Saturday, receiver Kenny Bell has tried to remind them — and the rest ...

Minnesota preview: Blue-collar personality fits Gophers

By the numbers

7-3: Overall record (4-2 in the Big Ten)

5.48: Offensive yards per play (74th)

5.04: Defensive yards per play (28th)

+9: Turnover margin (T-11th)

47 ...

Husker notes: Callers get blunt on Pelini’s radio show; Salute for seniors

LINCOLN — Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini offered a matter-of-fact response Wednesday night on the radio show “Sports Nightly” to a caller questioning whether the Husker program was going in the ...

Huskers identify issues that snowballed vs. Wisconsin

LINCOLN — There actually were a few snaps when the Nebraska defense did everything right at Wisconsin, and highlighting them could prove to be quite valuable come Saturday.

That’s the ...

Nebraska drops to 23 in College Football Playoff rankings

Nebraska fell seven spots in the College Football Playoff rankings after losing to Wisconsin on Saturday.

The Huskers, ranked 16th last week, tumbled to 23rd this week. NU was tied ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's “Husker Talk Live” chat with staff writer Jon Nyatawa to track a discussion of the latest Husker headline.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Noon

Notes: Badgers, Gophers in control of Big Ten West

Two teams in the Big Ten West Division still control their destiny to get to Indianapolis for the Dec. 6 league championship game.

Nebraska isn’t among them.

The Huskers ...

Notes: Papuchis, players make call for some to shed their Blackshirts

LINCOLN — The number of Blackshirts has been cut in half, but it’s somewhat unclear how long that will last.

Of the 15 players initially awarded the black practice jerseys ...

Barfknecht: Abdullah no lock to make loaded All-B1G backfield

Let’s take today’s midweek run through Big Ten football in three quick steps.

1. Nebraska I-back Ameer Abdullah entered October with legitimate hope to earn first-team All-America honors ...