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."

READ MORE »

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

Live updates

 

Videos

Extras

Printable rosters

Looking for a handy reference guide that you can take to the game? Check out our two-page printable roster, sorted by jersey number and including height, weight, year in school, hometown and high school information. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Penn State game provided by the Huskers athletic department. Click here »

On social media

Check out the Big Red Today page on Facebook to discuss the latest news with the top Husker fans, and follow us on Twitter to get instant updates and analysis whenever news breaks.

BRT app

iPhone and Android users, get your Husker updates on the go by downloading our free Big Red Today app from the App Store and the Google Play store. Omaha.com/BRTapp and Omaha.com/android

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 »

Recruiting updates

Visit the Big Red Today recruiting page to find the latest updates on potential future Huskers, including player cards for those athletes already committed. Click here »

Email alerts

Sign up for the Big Red Today email newsletter to get the Husker news, analysis, daily headlines and more delivered to your inbox. Click here »

Big Ten coverage

Look for additional updates on our Big Ten page to get the best coverage of the conference from both The World-Herald and some of the best writers from across the country. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

The Big Ten Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Noon

Join the "Big Ten Roundup" chat with World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht at noon Wednesday to see his take on news from around the conference.

Also, check out our Big ...

Video: Bo Pelini introduced at Youngstown State

Watch Bo Pelini's introductory press conference as head coach at Youngstown State the university's YouTube channel.

See more on the former Husker coach's hiring at Youngstown State ...

Bo Pelini officially named Youngstown State coach

LINCOLN — Former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is headed home.

Youngstown State, an FCS program in Pelini’s hometown, officially announced the hiring Tuesday afternoon. Pelini’s taking over the Penguins ...

Huskers Ameer Abdullah, Randy Gregory named AP All-Americans

The accolades keep coming for Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory.

Abdullah earned second-team All-America honors from the Associated Press on Tuesday. Gregory was awarded third-team All-America honors after ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Scroll through the "Husker Talk Live" chat with staff writer Sam McKewon to get his take on the latest headlines, including new Nebraska coach Mike Riley and former coach Bo ...

Husker notes: Mike Riley checks out practice

LINCOLN — Mike Riley watched his future team practice Tuesday, and the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 will be the Huskers’ last game before the former Oregon State head coach takes ...

Warren set to remain part of Huskers’ staff

LINCOLN — Charlton Warren appears set to remain part of the Nebraska football coaching staff, news that hasn’t been announced officially but was confirmed Monday night by Husker defensive back ...

Husker offensive coordinator Tim Beck has pride and no regret

LINCOLN — Tim Beck had no comment Tuesday when asked what happens after Dec. 27, sharing nothing about who he has contacted since Mike Riley was named the replacement for Bo ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Join the “Lunch with Tom” chat at 10 a.m. as World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel discusses the future of Husker football and more.

Live Blog ...

Riley says staff will include some from Nebraska

LINCOLN — Nebraska coach Mike Riley told national radio host Tim Brando that he’s already going after one assistant on the previous Husker staff and may soon reach out to ...

Tales from the hiring of Devaney

Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst’s hiring of Mike Riley as football coach was accomplished quickly and quietly.

“Devaney: Birth of a Dynasty” by The World-Herald’s Henry J. Cordes ...

Newest Husker recruit talks softly, carries big skill set

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s newest commit for the 2015 recruiting class opts for brevity when asked for his favorite high school football memory.

Dedrick Young, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound athlete from Peoria ...

Shatel: Forecast is bright for UNO hockey but a little foggy for CU and NU basketball

The local weather gurus have their winter forecast. I have mine. The difference: My six-inches-of-snow/65-degrees line runs through the middle of the CenturyLink Center. My forecast for:

» UNO hockey ...

Nebraska-USC tie in 1970 proved important

Nebraska and USC will play for the fifth time in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 with the Trojans holding a 3-0-1 record in the series.

But that 1970 tie ...

For Nebraska, it's easy to get pumped for USC

LINCOLN — In the days leading up to Nebraska’s bowl announcement on Dec. 7, senior safety Corey Cooper wasn’t all that curious about the Huskers’ destination.

The “where” didn ...

McKewon: In Bo Pelini era, nothing was a snap for Huskers

LINCOLN — The simplest — and, in a sense, most essential — aspect of any offensive play is the snap. If you don’t get the snap right, forget the rest of it ...

High school coaches hoping in-state offers will increase with Mike Riley

LINCOLN — Nebraska high school coaches are ready to welcome Mike Riley and will share one simple request for the new Husker football coach: As you come into the state, don ...

Husker coach Mike Riley has solid history with high school coaches

LINCOLN — It had hardly been an hour or two after Nebraska football announced the hiring of Mike Riley on Dec. 4, and Darin Boysen of the Nebraska Coaches Association already ...

Shatel: After two nights with college football's best, some clarity on Huskers' place

Some people want to win the Heisman or the Masters. I’ve always wanted to be a bowl scout for a day.

Wear a loud blazer. OK, I already do ...

Tom Osborne: Huskers should embrace challenges; 'adversity is not your enemy'

LINCOLN — Tom Osborne spent nearly a half-hour at the Big Red Breakfast on Friday describing the philosophies and principles that kept Nebraska among college football’s elite for three decades ...

Cotton, team moving on to 'one last chance together'

LINCOLN — Barney Cotton went over it with very little change of expression, putting the strain of recent events behind him as Nebraska returned to practice Wednesday.

Cotton talked about accepting ...

Husker football coach Mike Riley hires four assistants

LINCOLN — By the time he spoke with new Nebraska coach Mike Riley last weekend, Trent Bray already knew what to say if asked to tag along.

Bray had been thinking ...

Wisconsin A.D. Barry Alvarez will coach Badgers in Outback Bowl

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez hopes to move quickly to find a new head coach after Gary Andersen’s stunning departure to Oregon State.

Alvarez hoped to ...

Gary Andersen leaving Wisconsin to replace Mike Riley at Oregon State

Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen unexpectedly stepped down Wednesday to become head coach at Oregon State.

Andersen, the Badgers’ coach for the past two seasons, informed the team of his decision ...

The Big Ten Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

Replay Wednesday's "Big Ten Roundup" chat with World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht to see his take on news from around the conference.

Also, check out our Big Ten page ...

Heineman: Bar is set 'very, very high' for new Husker coach Mike Riley

LINCOLN — Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, an avid sports fan, said Wednesday that the bar has been set “very, very high” for new NU football coach Mike Riley.

The Republican governor ...

Husker notes: Players moving on to bowl game, but still playing for Pelini

LINCOLN — In the hours on Nov. 30 after Bo Pelini was fired, Nebraska’s football captains gathered to figure things out.

“There was a lot of emotion at the time ...

Husker coach Mike Riley’s contract not quite as generous as Bo Pelini’s

LINCOLN — Mike Riley’s salary is slightly lower than predecessor Bo Pelini’s, and a comparison of the coaching contracts also shows the perks are fewer and the personal buyout ...

Visiting U.S. troops in Kuwait, Hagel finds conversation turning to — what else? — Husker football, Bo Pelini

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel knows something about getting pushed out of a job.

Tuesday, he expressed sympathy for the Huskers’ former football coach, Bo Pelini, who was fired last ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's "Husker Talk Live" chat with World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa to track a discussion of the latest headlines, including coverage of football coach Mike Riley's efforts ...