Gameday breakdown: Penn State (6-4, 3-3) vs. Nebraska (7-3, 4-2)

November 23, 2013 

When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Beaver Stadium

Series: Nebraska leads 8-7

Last meeting: Nebraska won 32-23

Coaches: Nebraska — Bo Pelini, sixth season, 56-23 overall; Penn State — Bill O’Brien, second season, 14-8 overall.

Television: BTN (commentators: Eric Collins, Chuck Long, Jon Jansen)

Radio: WQWK 1450, WBUS 93.7 (Announcers: Steve Jones, Jack Ham)

The skinny: Penn State can take another step toward bettering its season with a win over a cross-divisional foe. Despite having their Big Ten championship dreams ended by Michigan State last week, the Cornhuskers are still playing for a premier bowl destination and need a win in Happy Valley. Nebraska’s conference title aspirations took a big hit when quarterback Taylor Martinez went down on Oct. 26 with a foot injury. Redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. has taken over and will start his seventh game. He’s relied on a powerful running game led by a senior-laden offensive line and running backs Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross. Penn State is enjoying similar success with its ground game as Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton continue to run behind an aggressive offensive line that features seniors, Ty Howle, John Urschel, Adam Gress and Garry Gilliam, four of 17 seniors or non-returning players who will be honored before the game. It’ll be the last time Nebraska plays at Beaver Stadium until 2017.

Cornhusker player to watch: Receiver Kenny Bell is a slippery player who is known to be a fast-starter. Twenty-four of his 39 catches have been split between the first and third quarters to begin halves. He’s a player the Cornhuskers look for when they’re trying to get into the red zone, too. He’s got 18 catches for 274 yards from midfield to opponents’ 20-yard lines.

Nittany Lion player to watch: DaQuan Jones is actually having a better statistical season than current Seattle Seahawk Jordan Hill had in a blue and white uniform last year. The Nittany Lions will need Jones to be the driving force to clog up the middle and eliminate chances for Abdullah and Cross to chew up easy yards inside.

Key matchup: Nebraska will bring the strongest pass rush Penn State has seen since Ohio State. That didn’t turn out well for the Nittany Lions. It’ll be up to offensive tackles Adam Gress, Donovan Smith and Garry Gilliam to keep Nebraska pass rushers Randy Gregory and Avery Moss off of Christian Hackenberg. Maintaining it’s superior passing offense in key situations is crucial if the Nittany Lions want to get an elusive second-straight win.

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