What you need to know: No. 13 Penn State vs. Nebraska
UNIVERSITY PARK — Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions on fall Saturdays this season.
Game details: vs. Nebraska, 4 p.m. kickoff, broadcast on FS1.
Records: Penn State 8-2 (5-2 Big Ten), Nebraska 4-6, (3-4 Big Ten).
Venue: Beaver Stadium, where Penn State has won its last 13 games.
Weather forecast (via AccuWeather): High of 46 degrees, with periods of rain.
Overview: Before the season, this was a low-key great game to look forward to. Now, not so much. Nebraska’s season has completely gone sideways, with head coach Mike Riley’s future very much in jeopardy. The Cornhuskers will most likely finish with a losing record and were blown out by Minnesota last week. Their three Big Ten wins have come against Rutgers, Illinois, and Purdue, the bottom of the conference. Penn State’s shot at a conference championship and appearance in the College Football Playoff are realistically gone, though this game seems to be more about what Nebraska isn’t, than anything about Penn State. That’s simply because the Huskers’ fall has been so drastic. Add in that Penn State’s going for a 10-win season and wants to send the senior class out with a win, and a win over Nebraska is practically a foregone conclusion.
The line: Penn State – 26
All-time series: Nebraska leads 9-7, starting in 1920.
Last time they met (2013): Nebraska earned a 23-20 overtime win at Beaver Stadium.
Penn State wins if: the Nittany Lions continue to boast a disruptive defense. Penn State’s forced at least one turnover in its last 11 games, and Nebraska has a negative turnover ratio for the season (-5). Nebraska has to play essentially perfect to stay in the game, and chances are that won’t happen against the Lions’ defense.
Nebraska wins if: the Cornhuskers continue their Big Ten dominance over the Nittany Lions. It’s strange to think that Penn State hasn’t beaten Nebraska since 2002. Penn State is 0-4 against Nebraska since then, losing all three games as Big Ten opponents.
Count on: a tremendous pregame roar for each senior and junior running back Saquon Barkley. Chances are this senior class will help lead the program to consecutive 10-win seasons and two big-time bowl games. Odds are also that Saturday will be Barkley’s last home game at Penn State. The contest falls before Thanksgiving break, though there should still be 100,000-plus fans in attendance: one last opportunity to see a great group of players and a legendary running back at Beaver Stadium.
Keep an eye on: Miles Sanders. The Lions’ true sophomore running back got some early carries in last week’s game. For the contest, he had just two carries, though he gained 18 yards, and looked to run with purpose. As teams continue to game plan against Barkley, it presents an opportunity for other players to breakthrough.
Trivia tidbit: Nebraska leads Penn State in all-time victories (893-875), though the Lions can gain some ground Saturday, and also in the next few years if Nebraska continues on its current downward trend.
Saquon Barkley record watch: Barkley is still second all-time at Penn State in rushing yards, though needs just 101 yards for his third consecutive 1,000-yard season.
*Season record: 9-1.
*Season record against the spread: 6-4.
Prediction: Penn State 45, Nebraska 20
*HappyValley season predictions