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Nebraska (7-3) at Penn State (6-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beaver Stadium (106,572) -- University Park, Pennsylvania. Television: BTN. Home Record: Nebraska 5-2, PSU 5-1. Away Record: Nebraska 2-1, PSU 0-3. Neutral Record: Nebraska 0-0, PSU 1-0. Conference Record: Nebraska 4-2, PSU 3-3. Series Record: Nebraska leads, 8-7.
GAME NOTES: The Penn State Nittany Lions will play their final home game of the season on Saturday afternoon, as they entertain the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a Big Ten Conference tussle at Beaver Stadium.
Nebraska was featured in the AP poll early in the season, but while it was dropped from the ranks following a Sept. 14 loss to UCLA (41-21), it is still in the midst of a solid season at 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers had a tough test versus nationally-ranked Michigan State last Saturday and fell short in a 41-28 final.
Penn State has alternated wins with losses in every week since Sept. 7, resulting in a 6-4 overall record and a 3-3 mark in conference play. The Nittany Lions pieced together perhaps their most impressive Big Ten victory of the season last weekend, as they dismissed visiting Purdue, 45-21, to improve to 5-1 at home.
Nebraska has beaten Penn State on three straight occasions to take an 8-7 lead in the all-time series, although the Nittany Lions are 5-2 versus the Cornhuskers at Beaver Stadium.
Despite having one of the most potent offenses in the Big Ten this season (35.1 ppg, 44.0 ypg), things have not gone as smoothly in recent weeks for Nebraska, as it is averaging just 23.0 ppg over the last four games.
A big reason for the Cornhuskers' decline has been the loss of quarterback Taylor Martinez for the season with various injuries. In his absence, Tommy Armstrong, Jr. (.530, 802 yards, seven touchdowns, seven interceptions) has seen the majority of the snaps, although Ron Kellogg III (.672, 529 yards, four TDs, INT) has been more effective with limited reps.
While it's been a revolving door under center for the Cornhuskers, one constant has been the outstanding play of Ameer Abdullah, who is the nation's sixth-leading rusher with 1,336 yards. He has also been a viable receiving option (22 receptions, 191 yards) and has crossed the plane of the end zone nine times. Imani Cross (407 yards) is also heavily utilized, especially near the goal line (10 TDs).
Quincy Enunwa has found success regardless of who has been throwing him the ball, tallying 41 receptions and 536 yards while ranking second in the Big Ten in receiving touchdowns with eight. Kenny Bell (39 receptions, 466 yards) gives the Huskers a formidable duo out wide.
Nebraska has played pretty well defensively, holding opposing teams to just 24.6 points per game, 373.5 yards per game and a 31 percent conversion rate on third down.
Randy Gregory has established himself as one of the best defensive linemen in the conference, racking up 48 tackles, 15.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Stanley Jean-Baptiste (four INTs) and Ciante Evans (three INTs, FF) have been active in the turnover battle.
While Penn State has one of the Big Ten's most successful offenses in terms of yardage (434.6 ypg), it hasn't always translated to success on the scoreboard (29.3 ppg). Last week against Purdue, however, everything was clicking, as the unit amassed 501 yards, 31 first downs and a season-high-tying 45 points.
Christian Hackenberg is off to a promising start to his career under center. The freshman has completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,399 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Hackenberg's performance has certainly been lifted by the presence of Allen Robinson, who has established himself as one of the best receivers in the nation with 81 grabs for 1,204 yards (both tops in the Big Ten) and six touchdowns.
Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak have split carries in the backfield, with the former amassing 796 yards and five scores on 154 attempts, and the latter 725 yards and 12 scores on 153 totes. Zwinak scored three times last week.
The Nittany Lions have held their own defensively (26.7 ppg, 375.7 ypg), although both numbers rank in the bottom half of the Big Ten.
Glenn Carson leads the unit with 75 tackles. Jordan Lucas (53 tackles) has three interceptions and 14 passes defended, while C.J. Olaniyan anchors the defensive line with 10.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Penn State appears to be improving as the season goes on, while Nebraska is doing just the opposite. In front of their home crowd for the final time this season, expect the Nittany Lions to pull out the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Penn State 30, Nebraska 27
11/20 10:43:15 ET
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