Scouting Report: Nebraska

Story posted November 18, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Brian McLaughlin

In a season where former College Football powerhouses Miami and Notre Dame have returned to prominence, Nebraska cannot find the magic they once had with head coach Tom Osborne in the 1980s and 90s.

Having already fired their athletic director, hiring Bill Moos to turn around their athletic department, it appears every sign is pointing towards head football Coach Mike Riley being the next to go. This week, Moos all but fired Riley and is likely to clean house following the 2017 season.

“Mike Riley deserves to finish the 2017 season. That’s how I operate,” Moos said.

Nebraska will need to knockoff both Penn State this week and Iowa next week in order to get bowl eligible. The historic Cornhuskers football program has not made a bowl only twice since 1961.

On the football field, Nebraska has clearly been less than inspiring. Coming into this week’s matchup they enter at 4-6, or the same record as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights who Penn State handled easily last week.

Nebraska’s defense this season has been ran through with relative ease, giving up over 2,000 rushing yards through 10 games. After weeks of getting bottled up, Saquon Barkley has to be licking his chops in hopes of a big Saturday on what could be his final game in Beaver Stadium.

In fact, Nebraska’s rush defense has been an important factor in every game they have played. When the Cornhuskers allow an individual player on the opposing offense to rush for over 100 yards, they are winless, going 0-6. If they do not allow a 100-yard rusher, they are undefeated this season.

This does not always have to be a running back either. Against Minnesota, the Cornhuskers allowed the Gophers quarterback Demry Croft to amass 183 yards on the ground for three touchdowns. This means Trace McSorley should have plenty of open field, especially if Nebraska keys in on Saquon Barkley.

Nebraska uses the 3-4 style defense which is rarely used in college football and can be confusing to young offensive lines. However, Penn State will benefit because Rutgers employed the same style just a week ago.

On the offensive side of the ball, Nebraska relies mostly on gaining yardage through the air, but this gameplan will be in question this week because starting quarterback Tanner Lee is questionable with a concussion. Lee has a strong arm and can make any throw on the field, but without him the offense may have to count on feature backs Devine Ozigbo and Mikale Wilbon. Tre Bryant was the starting running back to start the year, but has not played since week two against Oregon due to an injury.

Neither Ozigbo nor Wilbon have been particularly effective, both averaging less than four yards per carry. If Lee is out hurt, it is likely that Patrick O’Brien will get the start at quarterback and not throw the ball quite as much as they did with Lee.

This game really boils down to Penn State’s ability to run the ball. Nebraska’s pass defense has been relatively good this season, but they get gashed on the ground. If Saquon Barkley can’t be success in this one, their needs to a serious look at Penn State’s offensive line. If Barkley or McSorley can get to the 100-yard mark, Penn State should win this one with relative ease over a program in turmoil.

 

Brian McLaughlin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email bxm48@psu.edu