My friend and lead editor of HuskerCorner.com, Jimmie Allen, was nice enough to give us an inside look at the Nebraska Cornhuskers and what to watch for in their matchup with Penn State.
What can Penn State do to slow down Taylor Martinez?
Stopping Taylor is actually the easy part to stopping Nebraska’s offense. Blitzing Taylor Martinez is the key to slowing down this offense. It’s nearly impossible to stop it. With playmakers like Kenny Bell, and Jamal Turner on the outside big plays are possible on each and every down. Getting to Martinez before he can deliver the ball is the key. Martinez has not been as dangerous on the ground in his sophomore and junior seasons like he was as a freshman, but if he puts up 100 yards on the ground against Penn State, it could be a long day for Nittany Lions fans.
In his freshman season, Nebraska lived and died by the zone read, and getting Martinez out in open space. All of his runs of over 20 yards this season, including 4 touchdown runs have came up the middle.
Rex Burkhead is likely out for the game against Penn State. How comfortable are you with Ameer Abdullah in his place?
I don’t see any way Rex plays on Saturday. He hasn’t practiced in two weeks, and I really feel like this coaching staff is saving him for the Big 10 Championship game, because they would rather have 100% of Rex against Wisconsin/Indian then 60% of him for these last three games.
Sophomore Ameer Abdullah has rushed for over 100 yards in 5 games this season, including the last 3 against Northwestern, Michigan, and Michigan State. I think Nebraska’s offense becomes more dynamic with Abdullah in the game. I actually think Abdullah will be a more productive back than Rex by the time he is done in Lincoln.
What can Penn State do to find success against the Nebraska defense?
Traditionally Bo Pelini’s defense was a two gap defense. Which means that his defensive linemen were responsible for both gaps on either side of them allowing the linebackers to roam freely, and make plays. After the struggles against UCLA, and Ohio State, the defense has switched to more of a one gap, assignment oriented defense and it has worked out well for the Huskers.
The key for Penn States running game would be to run away from No. 46. Senior defensive end Eric Martin has emerged as one of the best all-around defensive players in the country this year. He’s had at least 2 tackles for loss in the last three games. Nebraska is very inexperianced at linebacker outside of senior Will Compton, so getting to the second level is going to be a must if Penn State wants to win this game.
Nebraska fans and head coach Bo Pelini have had a love-hate relationship in the past. What is coach Pelini’s approval rating right now?
I think I read somewhere that his approval ratting was a in the 47% range at the beginning of this season. Bo Pelini is one of 6 active coaches in the country, who have been head coaches for at least 4 years, and have at least 9 wins in each season they have coached. Nebraska fans love the fact that Pelini has pulled off upsets over Oklahoma, Michigan, and beat Ohio State in his first season. What they are not ok with is losing to Iowa State, and Northwestern at home. Pelini has been good for one great win, and one tragic loss in every season he has been in Lincoln. Nebraska fans want a BCS Bowl
win, and the dogs may be called off on Pelini, Taylor Martinez, and this coaching staff.
How much would it mean to Nebraska fans to play in and possibly win the Big Ten championship in just their 2nd year in the conference?
A lot of people don’t realize this, but Nebraska has not won a conference championship since 1999. When Nebraska played Miami for the National Championship in 01, they didn’t even win their division. Colorado won the Big XII North that season. They were the first team to play for the championship with out a Conference Championship up until Alabama last season. So it would be huge, and over due. Pelini got Nebraska to a Conference Championship in his first two seasons in Lincoln. He came up 1 second short against Texas, and gave up a 17
point lead to Oklahoma. It is lined up for the Huskers to have an easy road to the Rose Bowl this year, so it’s time to see if Pelini can win the biggest game of his head coaching career, but some Nebraska fans are skeptical about whether he will even make it there.
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