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Penn State Football: Previewing The Opponent: Nebraska

by on November 17, 2017 3:30 PM

Penn State is set to host Nebraska in Beaver Stadium this weekend for the first time since 2011 with a undefeated home record on the line for the Nittany Lions and potentially the job of Nebraska head coach Mike Riley for the Huskers.

Nebraska stumbles into Saturday's game with a 4-6 record on the year after giving up over 50 points and 400 yards on the ground against Minnesota this past week. With quarterback Tanner Lee questionable for Saturday following an injury he sustained against the Gophers, there are little in the way of answers when it comes to the longtime foe of the Nittany Lions.

Even so, it's another game and another team to preview.

The offense:

When Tanner Lee is healthy Nebraska is actually a halfway decent offense throwing the ball. The Huskers are the 32nd ranked passing offense in the nation, just six spots behind Penn State. The big killer though, Nebraska is 90th in scoring and 113th in rushing the ball. As a result the Huskers haven't been able to produce much in the way of a balanced attack, winning in the Big Ten against Rutgers, Illinois and Purdue.

If Nebraska is passing, keep an eye on receivers Stanley Morgan Jr,  leading receiver JD Spielman and De'Mornay Pierson-El for the trio of starting targets for the receivers. Up front the offensive line boasts no seniors and two freshmen on the right side of the line. Junior center Cole Conrad anchors the bunch at 300 pounds.

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And yes, Nebraska has a fullback, senior Luke McNitt.

The defense: 

The bad news for Nebraska fans is that the Huskers aren't really good at stopping the pass or the run. Nebraska is 105th in rushing defense and 105th in scoring defense. The best category of the bunch is a pass defense just 52nd in the nation, a far cry from the best in the Big Ten. All told an 83rd best third-down defense has done little to keep offenses off the field or opponents out of the end zone. The Huskers have given up over 30 points on six occasions this season and 83 total in the past two weeks alone.

The Huskers will turn to inside linebacker Chris Weber to hold that side of the ball together as a senior with a secondary of Chris Jones, Joshua Kalu, Aaron Williams and the non Heisman trophy winning cornerback Lamar Jackson behind him. The Huskers are led overall by defensive coordinator Bob Diaco who was the 2012 Broyles Award Winner given to the nation's top assistant coach.

The player to watch:

There has been some indication that Tanner Lee won't be starting even if he is cleared to play this weekend. Even so, with over 2,500 yards passing he is basically Nebraska's offense in a nutshell. So if he goes, the game will be won or lost with his arm. Maybe a bit unfair, but it is what it is. If he can throw the ball on Penn State's defense Nebraska has a chance, a slim one, but a chance.

The prediction:

Nebraska is simply not very good and about one punch away from firing it's coach. In turn, it's hard to imagine any real path to the Huskers winning on Saturday unless Penn State never really wakes up, makes a bunch of mistakes and the Nebraska defense plays better than it has all year. Add in the fact Nebraska isn't scoring a ton of points to begin with and this is a hard one to see staying close.

Even so the Huskers will play for pride early, but it won't be enough. Penn State wins a pull-away game 42-10



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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