Lions Run Over by Nebraska

Nebraska rolls up 337 yards rushing while dominating the clock and the Penn State defensive line. The Huskers held the ball for 40 minutes in the game as Penn State could never get untracked against a swift Blackshirt defense.<br><br>(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

I drove past one of the local gas retailers in Lincoln after the game this past Saturday night. They had a predicted final score of Nebraska 21 Penn State 14 emblazoned on their billboard, which was sort of prophetic given the actual game score.

Truth be told, most Penn State fans I know expected this game to be a little too tough for the Lions. They were right. Nebraska came out and dominated Penn State on both lines of scrimmage from the opening snap, if not on the score board.

The Lions entered the game with a theme of "from play one", and this worked in so far as Penn State held a 10-9 halftime edge, but that margin was built on thin production. Nebraska enjoyed a huge margin in time of possession and yardage in the first half as it seemed that all but a few minutes of the half had been played in Penn State territory.

Nebraska moved the ball very well early, but the Cornhuskers drives stalled in the red zone when Penn State went to a more aggressive attacking defense. This led to two David Dyches field goals in the first half beforet Penn State would capitalized on a Jammal Lord fumble, forced by Ed Johnson and recovered by Levon Chisley, at the NU 29 yard line.

Three plays later Ricky Upton ran it in off left tackle from 13 yards out to put the Lions up 7-6. Upton's touchdown was the first rushing score allowed this season by the vaunted Nebraska Blackshirt defense.

Other than that 29 yard drive, Penn State could barely move the ball in the first half until a final two minute drive engineered by Zack Mills led to a Robbie Gould 47 yard field goal on the final play of the half to give PSU it's 10-9 halftime cushion.

Any happy feelings that Penn State fans might have enjoyed at halftime were methodically wiped clean when Nebraska opened the second half with a 16-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that chewed up more than 8 minutes of time. Jammal Lord scored on a 3 yard keeper, but it was Josh Davis and the Husker offensive line doing the hard work. Davis had 10 carries for 50 yards on the drive, and he would end the night with 32 carries for 179 yards.

"They kind of shocked us coming out in the second half and sustaining that long drive," stated defensive captain Gino Capone.

Nebraska built an incredible 23 minutes time of possession in the second half to limit Penn State's opportunities to come back in the game, but Penn State did have it's chances. After Scott Paxson blocked an early 4th quarter David Dyches FG attempt, Penn State advanced the ball to midfield before Zack Mills mishandled the exchange from center David Costlow resulting in a lost fumble.

After Nebraska tacked on a FG to make it 18-10 the Lions still had life when Mills led the team to the Cornhusker 39 yard line. It appeared that Mills had completed a 15 yard pass to Gerald Smith near the Nebraska sideline that would have brought the Lions a first down at the Nebraska 25 yard line, but that pass was ruled incomplete. That final Lions drive ended on downs.

Overall, the Huskers ran 78 offensive plays to Penn State's 54 for a 24 play advantage. The Huskers ran the ball 72 times for 337 yards while throwing only 6 passes in the game. Overall, Nebraska had possession of the ball for a staggering 40:09.

The Lions were held to 44 yards rushing and 203 yards of total offense. Mills threw 33 times for 159 yards on 16 completions.

Nebraska's six pass attempts were the lowest total by a Penn State opponent since 1970. Nebraska's 72 rushing attempts were the fourth-highest by a PSU opponent under Joe Paterno and the most since North Carolina State had 73 in 1977.

The Cornhuskers' 337 rushing yards were the seventh-highest total by a PSU opponent under Joe Paterno and the most since Michigan State gained 452 yards in 1997. Penn State's 21 rushing attempts were the second-lowest under Joe Paterno, with 20 vs. Michigan in 1999 the record.

Junior quarterback Zack Mills moved into fifth place in Penn State career passing yardage with 4,468 yards. Mills also moved into fifth place on the school career pass completions list with 352.

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