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If you just look at the matchup between the two teams, it would seem that Nebraska would have an advantage.
Nebraska’s defense—the performance against Northwestern notwithstanding—should be more than enough to handle Penn State’s meager offense. Nebraska’s running game—if Tim Beck is patient enough to stick with it—should be enough to keep the chains moving and provide Nebraska with an advantage. And Nebraska’s edge in special teams should serve as a tiebreaker if the game becomes close.
However, in the week leading up to the game, the number of variables that have been introduced make the game much harder to handicap. Even before the Paterno scandal exploded, a huge question was raised about how Nebraska would respond to their surprising loss to Northwestern. And a road game to Happy Valley is always a challenge.
Still, it’s hard to imagine the Nittany Lions not being hindered emotionally by the firing of their iconic coach. It’s not hard to imagine Penn State coming out of the gate breathing fire, but it’s also not hard to see that emotional wave cresting and the Lions crashing as the game wears on.
Unless Penn State is able to get up big on Nebraska—which is hard to see without Nebraska turning the ball over—Nebraska’s advantages on both sides of the ball should be enough to give Nebraska a hard-earned road victory.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 16, Penn State 13
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