Penn State vs. Nebraska: Why Home Field Won't Help Cornhuskers

Randy ChambersAnalyst INovember 6, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 27: Linebacker Michael Yancich #33 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates his touchdown against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second quarter at Beaver Stadium on October 27, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In one of the better matchups of the Week 11 college football schedule, Penn State will travel to Memorial Stadium to take on the No. 16 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Both teams have been on a roll, as Nebraska has won six of the last seven games and Penn State has surprisingly done the same.

This was a close contest last season, which was decided by only three points, but this year’s result will end differently, as the Nittany Lions should come out victorious.

Many doubted this Penn State program before the season began, once the sanctions were handed out and players began transferring from Happy Valley. But players have rallied behind the university and head coach Bill O'Brien, and have quietly been one of the surprise teams of the year.

The Nittany Lions will surprise once more this weekend with a victory over Nebraska.


Nebraska Has Met Its Match Against Penn State Defense

Nebraska has been moving the ball with ease over the last few games, and the team is currently leading the Big Ten in averaging 487 total yards a contest.

Even with Rex Burkhead missing a majority of the season, quarterback Taylor Martinez has improved his play from a year ago and has helped this Cornhuskers team rank sixth in the country in rushing yards.

The problem is that Martinez hasn't exactly been terrific in throwing the football.

He has thrown seven combined interceptions in the last four games. He has also struggled running the ball at times, as he has been held to under 100 yards on the ground in three of the last four games.

Solid Big Ten defensive teams have taken away running lanes from the junior quarterback and forced him to beat them with his arm.

That is something he hasn't been able to do on a consistent basis.

Penn State is another good defensive team and is currently fourth in the Big Ten, allowing only 332 total yards a game. It was one of the few teams that was able to hold Ohio State's Braxton Miller to under 300 total yards and is allowing only 62.96 percent of opponents to score in the red zone, which is the best in the conference.

The Nittany Lions have done a good job all season of taking away the best part of the opposing team’s strength this year. If you are a running team, they force you to try and beat them throwing the ball, and if you prefer to toss around the pigskin, they try their best to make you run.

With a physical defensive line and experienced linebackers such as Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, Penn State should give Nebraska all it can handle this weekend.


Penn State Has Improved Its Offense

Losing running back Silas Redd last year, you would have thought this Penn State offense was going to be one of the worst in college football once again. But with a quarterback coach taking over the program, Matthew McGloin has quickly become one of the best signal-callers in the Big Ten.

Not only is he averaging 270 passing yards a game, but Penn State is currently 37th in the country throwing the football. He also has broken the Penn State record of five 300 passing-yard performances that was previously held by Nittany Lion great, Kerry Collins.

In the last seven games, McGloin is completing 64 percent of his passes and is responsible for 19 total touchdowns, while only throwing two interceptions.

The running game has also taken off as of late, as Penn State has run for well over 150 yards in five of the last six contests. A running back by committee has really paid off for this football team and has played a huge part in this offense's success, which has led to the scoring offense no longer being at the bottom of college football.

Meanwhile, the Nebraska defense hasn't exactly played up to par.

Teams have been able to run the ball down its throat for majority of the season. Michigan State ran for 238 yards last week, Ohio State topped 370 yards on the ground and UCLA managed over 300 rushing yards as well.

The defense has run hot-and-cold all season long, and it makes you wonder how the Cornhuskers will be able to hold up against a greatly improved Penn State team.

Note: All stats come from unless otherwise noted.