The Big Ten Legends Division leading Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-2, 4-1) welcome the Penn State Nittany Lions (6-3, 4-1) to Lincoln in a pivotal Week 11 matchup.
Bo Pelini and his Huskers are virtually one win away from securing their spot in the Big Ten Championship game. If they can get past the Nittany Lions this week, they’ll have just Minnesota and Iowa remaining on their schedule before the championship.
Things have mightily changed since last season’s match between the two schools. The Jerry Sandusky scandal was one-week old and Joe Paterno had just been dismissed as the head coach of the Penn State team.
Nebraska won by a 17-14 margin.
This time the Nittany Lions’ focus will solely be on the Cornhuskers as they attempt to spoil their BCS aspirations.
When: Saturday, Nov. 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
Live Stream: ESPN3
Radio: Free Football Radio
Spread: Nebraska -9 (via Covers)
If Nebraska wins this game, it’s going to be by a lot closer of a margin than nine points. The Cornhuskers are just not good enough defensively to stop the Penn State offense from going toe-to-toe with them in this one.
Over/Under: 52 (via Covers)
As tempting as it will be to go with the under here because of the teams involved, it’s best to take a look at the implications of this game. Nebraska has physical monsters along their offensive line and has a couple of stud runners, including QB Taylor Martinez, that can and will get outside the tackles and pick up yards in space.
Nebraska’s defense has been suspect at time, so don’t expect the Nittany Lions to sit back and let the Cornhuskers run up the score.
Injury Report via USA Today (as of Nov. 8, 2012)
TE Kyle Carter, Ankle, Questionable
T Curtis Dukes, Concussion, Questionable
DL Jordan Hill, Knee, Questionable
G Mark Arcidiacono, Foot, Questionable
LB Nyeem Wartman, Knee, Out
S P.J. Smith, Undisclosed, Questionable
RB Braylon Heard, Groin, Questionable
RB Rex Burkhead, Knee, Questionable
FB Mike Marrow, Knee, Out
Penn State is not eligible for the Big Ten Championship game or a bowl berth but still has plenty left to play for this season. Pride is the biggest thing fueling the Nittany Lions at this point. Plus, they can still clinch the Big Ten Leaders Division if Ohio State stumbles down the stretch and they continue winning.
For the Cornhuskers, this game is the most important of their season. With games at Minnesota and Iowa to follow, the Nittany Lions are the last potent threat standing in their way of heading to the Big Ten Championship game and likely earning a BCS bowl bid in the Rose Bowl (due to Penn State and Ohio State ineligibility, competition will be lacking).
Keys for Penn State Victory
The Nittany Lions need to get Matt McGloin off to a hot start by establishing the run and letting him work off that. If they can do that, they may be able to continue to build on their 500-yard performance from one week ago at Purdue.
Nebraska is the only team that’s played better offensively in the Big Ten than Penn State. The linebacking corps consisting of NFL prospects Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges need to play instinctively at the point of attack to help stop the Cornhuskers’ vaunted running game before plays can develop.
Keys for Nebraska Victory
The performance of Taylor Martinez is the key for the Cornhuskers, more so than any other aspect of their game. If he struggles and makes bad decisions due to pressure from the Nittany Lions’ front, they’ll flounder offensively.
Nebraska can only rely on the run so much, especially if they struggle. Then, they’ll have to throw and Martinez is going to be the deciding factor for them.
The Cornhuskers are playing for too much to let the Nittany Lions walk into Lincoln and beat them to ruin their BCS hopes. Taylor Martinez has taken a lot of flak for his shortcomings but he’s going to walk off the field Saturday with a huge win under his belt.
Predicted Score: Nebraska 30, Penn State 27