NEBRASKA: Game Breakdown

Our point-by-point analysis of the Nittany Lions' 17-14 loss to the Cornhuskers at Beaver Stadium Saturday.

Penn State lost to Nebraska 17-14 at Beaver Stadium Saturday. Given the remaining schedule (at Ohio State and Wisconsin), the defeat dealt a serious blow to the Nittany Lions' Big Ten title hopes.

But that game, which went from an apparent Cornhusker blowout in the third quarter to something of a nail-biter at the end, was of secondary focus on this day.

Following what may well have been the most controversy-ridden week in the history of team sports -- the Jerry Sandusky scandal, national media descending on campus, legendary head coach Joe Paterno being fired, rioting in town -- there were questions about what exactly might happen when Saturday's game rolled around.

More riots? Protests?

To the relief of all, on the whole it was a very positive experience. Someone phoned in a bomb scare Friday night. It prompted increased scrutiny at the security checkpoints but turned out to be bogus.

Otherwise, it was smooth sailing.

Prior to the game, there was a moment of silence for victims of child sex abuse, the crime of which Sandusky has been charged. Then the teams met at mid-field for a group prayer. The game itself was hard-hitting but clean, and there were no obvious protests or acts of violence in the stands.

Afterward, even though the Lions lost, the student section gave the players a round of applause.

No. 12 Penn State dropped to 8-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten. No. 19 Nebraska improved to 8-2 and 4-2. Here is how it went down.

MAN O' THE HOUR: Penn State linebacker Nate Stupar had 13 tackles. He seemed to be all over the place.

CLOSE SECOND: Wideout Derek Moye had four catches for 78 yards and set up Penn State's first touchdown with a 40-yard grab.

HONORABLE MENTION: In his return to extensive action, Stephfon Green carried 17 times for 71 yards and two scores. He helped make up for starter Silas Redd being slowed by a collarbone issue.

OPPOSING MVP: Cornhusker running back Rex Burkhead pounded out 121 yards and a score on 25 carries. He is a tough, physical back.

TURNING POINT: Down 17-14 and facing second-and-2 from their own 37 late in the game, Penn State ran twice (both carries by Redd) and failed to pick up the first down. The Cornhuskers took over on downs with 1:49 left and the game was effectively over.

STRONG STRATEGY: Nebraska ran the ball 48 times. Even though the Cornhuskers only had a 3.9-yard average, it allowed them to control the flow of the action.

BY THE NUMBERS: The stats in this game were virtually a dead heat between the teams. The one area where Nebraska dominated? Husker punter Brett Maher downed five punts inside the PSU 20. By contrast, PSU's Anthony Fera punted seven times and did not have one downed inside the 20. Hidden yards hurt Penn State.

SCRAP SHOW: In his first game as interim head coach, Tom Bradley broke Paterno's tradition of the top man wearing a jacket and tie on the sideline. Bradley wore a blue pullover and baseball cap.

ASSISTANT ASSESSMENT: We give a nod to Jay Paterno, the quarterbacks coach and son of Joe Paterno. He faced the media after the game even though he knew he'd be hit with difficult questions. He handled himself extremely well, too.

GREAT PLAY: Moye made a nice adjust on the bomb he caught from Matt McGloin. He was underthrown and stopped quicker than the two defensive backs in the area.

NOT-SO-GREAT PLAYS: Penn State wasted a lot of precious time by running the ball late in the game. It was working until Redd was stuffed on the back-to-back plays.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Maher was outstanding.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: PSU defensive tackle Devon Still had six tackles, a sack and forced fumble.

HIT SQUAD: Green clobbered Kenny Bell as a cover man on the second half kickoff. It was a clean shot. Bell popped up quickly, which was nice to see.


• Even former players on the sideline were going crazy when Penn State was running the ball so often late.

• Fera had his worst game of the year. He punted for distance but could not pin the Huskers deep. He also missed his only field-goal try, a 47-yarder in the first quarter. It turned out to be big.


• Attendance was 107,903, a sellout. It was the biggest crowd of the year.

• Redshirt juniors Brandon Beachum and Evan Lewis were both honored along with the seniors before the game. That means they don't intend to return for their final years of eligibility.

• Mike Mauti, on the mend after tearing an ACL, was wearing a headset on the sideline and standing near Bradley when PSU was on defense. He appeared to be making signals to the linebackers.

• Tight end Garry Gilliam, who had been out since tearing an ACL early last season, was back in uniform. He did not play.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: How difficult will it be for the Lions to take this show on the road?



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