Nebraska rush offense vs. Penn State rush defense
Aside from a game at Ohio State, Penn State’s rush defense has been downright stingy in Big Ten play, holding Iowa, Northwestern and Michigan State to fewer than 100 yards on the ground. Linebackers Jason Cabinda and Koa Farmer comprise the backbone of the defense; all three are aggressive pursuers and sound hitters. Nebraska’s run game, meanwhile, is as bad as it’s been in years, in part because the Huskers abandon it once they get behind. NU should get Jaylin Bradley back in the mix.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Penn State pass defense
Tanner Lee cleared concussion protocol and will start Saturday, coach Mike Riley said Friday night. Nebraska has a better chance with Lee, but Penn State’s pass defense — despite allowing big games to Ohio State and Michigan State — will be tough when you factor in the weather. Wideouts JD Spielman, Stanley Morgan and De’Mornay Pierson-El must be on point with their routes.
Penn State rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
The Nittany Lions have had offensive line issues since the arrival of coach James Franklin. That remains true in 2017, when PSU has a star back — Saquon Barkley — who's been held to fewer than 100 yards five times in Big Ten play. That’s not on Barkley — a dynamic runner at the second level. It's on the offensive line. But Nebraska’s defense has a way of making opposing run games look quite healthy, so there’s no particular reason to think that’ll change. Barkley is a surefire entrant into next year’s NFL draft so he’s playing his last home game. Expect a show.
Penn State pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
Penn State’s spread offense has the playmaking quarterback (Trace McSorley), the tight end (Mike Gesicki) and the big receivers (DaeSean Hamilton and Juwan Johnson) that Nebraska would love to have, but doesn’t. Put Barkley in the mix — 40 catches, 524 yards — and Nebraska’s pass defense, which defensive coordinator Bob Diaco vigorously tries to protect, won’t have much of a chance unless the weather intervenes. Like Ohio State, Penn State should handily carve up the Huskers. It’s going to be painful.
Barkley has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season, and Nebraska just allowed a kickoff for a touchdown against Minnesota. Punt returner DeAndre Thompkins has also returned a punt for a score, and PSU’s kick and punt coverage teams are both better than Nebraska’s. The Huskers have returned a single punt in the last four games. Penn State’s kicker, Tyler Davis, has missed 7 of his 15 field goal attempts, but he is the Nittany Lions’ lone liability.
Penn State hasn’t lost at home since 2015, and Nebraska is playing the second of two straight conference road games, a scenario that almost always works against the travelling team. Penn State, for example, was upset at Michigan State in its second straight road game, while PSU pummeled Michigan 42-13 when the Wolverines were playing their second-straight road game. Given that it’s Barkley’s senior day, you’ll see quite the fan support just for him.
Key matchup: Nebraska’s pass offense vs. Penn State’s secondary
We expect Nebraska to give up yards and points to Penn State, so the only way we anticipate Nebraska keeping the game competitive is by scoring points and converting third downs through the air. That’s a tough task on the road, with no momentum as a program and Mike Riley’s tenure on the ropes.
Nebraska is less likely to win this game than perhaps any other since joining the Big Ten. Nothing points to the Huskers winning. Not the giant point spread north of three touchdowns, not Nebraska’s disheveled defense, not the back-to-back road games, not Penn State’s penchant for sacking the quarterback. The question for NU won’t be if it loses, but how bad it does, and how many Husker fans turn off the game halfway because it’s too tough to watch. Our guess is it happens somewhere in the second half.
Our prediction: PENN STATE 42, NEBRASKA 17
Big Red Today coverage
Nebraska offensive lineman Michael Decker announced Saturday he has decided to retire from playing football. He started five games at center last year before a season-ending knee injury.
The timing does, indeed, seem right. Scott Frost is leading a revival to not only honor Nebraska football past but turn toward the future in a unified front. Having Frank Solich, Tom Osborne and Frost in the same sold-out ballroom…
Linebacker Andrew Ward announced on Twitter Saturday evening he was leaving the Nebraska football program after one season.
Pima (Arizona) Community College defensive tackle Tony Fair is ready make a decision on his next college. Until Friday it appeared Indiana, not far from Fair’s hometown of South Bend, would cruise to landing his commitment. Then Nebraska offered a…
25 years ago Scott Frost won a state title in the shot put, one of the final moments of his spectacular high school career. On Friday, one of his top recruits, Cam Jurgens, bested the mark set by his future…
All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Friday's episode, Carriker debates dream nonconference matchups for Nebraska and why he wants the Huskers to face off against Alabama.
Buy-in is high. Progress is being made. But Nebraska football's journey to excellence remains a marathon, not a sprint, coach Scott Frost reiterated Thursday in a World-Herald interview.
Nebraska coaches keep gushing about the city of Lincoln, so Lakia Henry, one of the nation’s top junior college recruits, is excited to see it this weekend.
It might finally be time for Frank Solich to return to Nebraska.
New Husker football coach Scott Frost threw for over 2,600 yards and 18 touchdowns in his NU career. On Thursday, Frost showed off his signature arm strength once again in Lincoln.
Mo Seisay will make his return to football in Canada. The former Husker cornerback signed a contract Wednesday with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. Seisay hasn't played in a professional football game since 2014.
Former Husker Randy Gregory, who was given a one-year suspension in January 2017 for repeated substance abuse violations, will file for reinstatement to the NFL on Thursday, according to the NFL Network.
All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Wednesday's episode, Carriker talks to Faux Pelini about sharing a cat with Bo Pelini, the spring game moment, Carl Pelini, adventures of…
Which was the best Nebraska football team to not win a national championship? World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon first posed the question on Twitter with four options — 1982, 1983, 1993 or 1999. Then Tuesday afternoon Tom Osborne was asked…
Nebraska coach Scott Frost said Wednesday it’d be “foolish to anticipate” which player he’ll pick as starting quarterback next fall. The four signal-callers left on campus — sophomores Andrew Bunch and Noah Vedral and freshmen Tristan Gebbia and Adrian Martinez…
Michael Johnson is getting close to wrapping up his recruitment. The four-star quarterback from Eugene, Oregon, told The World-Herald that he plans on visiting a handful of schools over the next few weeks and committing after that.
High-profile Nebraska signee Maurice Washington is set to graduate from a California high school soon, but his academic status as a Husker football player could be up in the air after that.
Keyan Williams, a senior wide receiver and son of former Nebraska wide receivers coach Keith Williams, is leaving the Husker football program.
All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Monday's episode, Carriker breaks down the differences between Nebraska and Michigan and gives his take on who will lead their team to…
The World-Herald spent some time with Chris Hickman and Nick Henrich on Friday — more to come on both down the road — but the general gist is this: They've been known college prospects long enough they’re sincerely weighing their…
Will I partake in a legal sports bet? Hold on. Let me ask my wife for some money.
Tate Wildeman shares a lot of similarities to his dad, who played for the Hawkeyes in the 1990s. But the defensive end recruit won't be following his dad's path to Iowa. He's forging his own with Nebraska.
The edges of the Huskers’ offense and defense will be built in Florida, Texas and California. The trenches have been built, at least for now, in the heartland.
Jim Harbaugh — touted by most fans, some media and himself as the ideal candidate to make Michigan football relevant again — has produced seasons of 10-3, 10-3 and 8-5 while going 0-3 against rival Ohio State and 1-2 in…
Maliek Collins broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot Thursday during Dallas Cowboys offseason strength and conditioning workouts. He will undergo surgery, and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told reporters Collins is expected to miss three months.
All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Friday's episode, Carriker gives his quick takeaways on the Huskers likely eliminating the fullback position and the effect it could have on…
Nebraska received good news Thursday that Breon Dixon, a transfer from Ole Miss, was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA.
Former Nebraska quarterback officially signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday. The sixth-round draft pick signed after arriving in Jacksonville for rookie minicamp, which will be held through this weekend.
Nebraska's repeated struggles to generate a pass rush in recent years have led them to a top junior college pass-rushing prospect who was once the high school teammate of Husker receiver JD Spielman.
Mycah Pittman — 6-foot, 195 pounds — holds 31 scholarship offers. He recently named his final five schools: Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, Oregon and Nebraska. Pittman is the No. 64 overall prospect in the 2019 class and No. 11 wide…