Nebraska Football 2011: Penn State Recap, Michigan Preview

Matt ZvolanekCorrespondent IINovember 14, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12:  The Penn State Nittany Lion students get loud while the Nebraska Cornhuskers drive during the game on November 12, 2011 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

No. 16 Nebraska(8-2) at No. 18 Michigan(8-2)

Recap: Nebraska beat Penn State, 17-14. After a turbid week in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions finally were able to forget about what happened the past week, at least for a few hours. While there were those who said the game shouldn’t have been played, I believed it was right to play it.  It was a distraction, and it took people’s minds off the incidents of the past week. 

The game was hard-fought by both teams, but in the end Nebraska came out on top. Nebraska switched up its offense, keeping the Nittany Lions defense off-guard. Some of the switches had not been seen before, like Burkhead moving under center. 

Tim Beck’s play-calling improved vastly from the Northwestern game, attacking the defense, rather than the conservative play-calling we’ve seen in the past weeks. Nebraska had more than a few chances to extend drives, but the receiving corps had a few costly drops. 

On defense, the Blackshirts allowed quite a few yards, but stepped up when they needed to, mainly on the third-and-one and fourth-and-ones in the fourth. One those downs, two of the Big Ten’s elite players at their positions went head-to-head. Lavonte David proved he was better than Silas Redd.

Special teams played a crucial part in the game. Penn State’s kicker missed a field goal, which would have been useful later on in the game. Maher pinned the Lions back on numerous occasions, including a rocket of a punt for 61 yards, and hit a 41-yard field goal. 

What to Watch For: Nebraska’s defense has had a hard time containing mobile quarterbacks this season. Denard Robinson is the very definition of a mobile quarterback. Watch to see if the Husker defense can stop Denard from running all over the field.

Biggest Question: Nebraska now must go from one hostile 100,000+ stadium at Penn State to another at Ann Arbor. How will the Huskers come out after an emotional game on Saturday?

Projected Outcome: For those of you who wanted to see Martinez and Robinson play on the same field, you’re going to get your wish. It’s too bad they wouldn’t do a foot race beforehand, so we can see who is faster.

Michigan can really put up points in a hurry, and Denard Robinson can be tough to contain. If Nebraska wants to win, they have to force Denard to throw the ball. Michigan is improved on defense, but has played in some shootouts. Nebraska should be able to pull it off, though. Final Score: 31-28

Interesting Fact: This isn’t really a fact, but it is very interesting. If Nebraska wins out and Michigan State doesn’t lose another game this season, there is a good chance the Huskers can go to a BCS bowl game. That BCS Bowl game would most likely be the Fiesta Bowl. Should Oklahoma State win out and play for the national championship, Nebraska could play longtime rival Oklahoma. Wouldn’t that be something?