Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/13/14
Penn State at No. 16 Nebraska (BCS rankings) Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC, ESPN 2 Line: Nebraska -7.5 Nebraska looks to carry the Big Ten banner proudly in their second season in the conference as the postseason looms. The Huskers are the highest ranked team in the BCS standings (thanks to Ohio State's ineligibility), and look to keep the momentum going this week when Penn State comes to Lincoln, Nebraska for a Big Ten crossover match-up. Can Bill O'Brien and Penn State put together a game plan that can give them what would be a signature win for the new regime early on, or will Taylor Martinez and Nebraska's running game prove too much for Penn State's defense for a second straight season? For Penn State to Win: Part of Penn State's success this season has come from starting fast on offense. The Nittany Lions have outscored their opponents in the first quarter by a combined 76-3, and getting off on the right foot against Nebraska is a must if Penn State wants to get out of Lincoln with a win. Forcing Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez to beat their defense through the air may not be the key it once was, but it must still be the goal for Penn State's defense. Against Ohio State it was clear Penn State's defense was getting worn down with the Buckeyes running the football, with Braxton Miller doing his own share of the damage. Penn State needs to avoid a repeat of that type of game on the road this week. For Nebraska to Win: Run, run, run. Rex Burkhead may be unavailable, or limited, but the Nebraska running game should still be the key to a victory. Penn State's defense is good and their endurance is better than it used to be, but it is far from unbeatable. Penn State at times has struggled to get off the field on third down (opponents converting 38.6% of third down attempts, up four points from last season), and if Nebraska can get Ameer Abdullah to set the tone in the running game and get enough production from Taylor Martinez on the ground and on short-yardage situations, Nebraska can control the clock and keep Penn State's defense chasing. Key Player, Penn State: Saying Matt McGloin is the most important player this weekend is a bit easy. He has a tendency to perform well against lesser opponents and could benefit from putting together a solid game against a reputable defense this weekend. You also are probably well aware of defensive leaders Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges and Jordan Hill. But it is time to focus on a rising star on Penn State's offense, sophomore wide receiver Allen Robinson. Robinson is second in the Big Ten in receiving, with 689 yards and he leads the conference with eight touchdown receptions. He has become Penn State's go-to receiver this season but has just one 100-yard receiving game. Key Player, Nebraska: Like above, it is incredibly easy to suggest Taylor Martinez or Ameer Abdullah are going to be the key players in this game. That almost goes without saying. So we focus on the defensive side of the football here. If Nebraska needs to put the pressure on Matt McGloin and force him to feel uncomfortable in the pocket and move around, then look for defensive lineman Eric Martin. Martin has 9.5 tackles for a loss this season and 6.5 sacks, tied for second in the Big Ten. Martin plays better at home as well, with 4.5 sacks coming in home games (five home games so far). Key Stat: Penn State and Nebraska have not been the most well-disciplined teams this season, but they have been some of the most improved teams when it comes to penalties this season compared to last season. Nebraska has cut down on penalties per game from 8.3 penalties per game last season to 6.6 per game this season. Penn State has gone from 8.0 penalties per game last season to just 5.4 penalties per game this season so far. The only schools with a better improvement in penalties per game averages from 2011 through this point in the 2012 season are Memphis (9.0 ppg to 7.2ppg) and Arizona (12.3 ppg to 8.4 ppg), but both still average more penalties per game than Penn State. Kevin McGuire is the national college football writer for Examiner.com and host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Google+and Facebook. Follow Crystal Ball Run on Twitter and Facebook.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Head coaching candidates for the Denver Nuggets

Check out these leaked Clippers jersey redesigns

Aqib Talib’s aggravated assault investigation suspended by Dallas PD

Ohio State expects 80,000 at its spring game this Saturday

Bryant strikes out three times in debut; Cubs fans heckle him

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

NBA rookies who disappointed in 2014-15 season

Report: Urban Meyer reassured Belichick about Hernandez

Cuban: Harden is MVP, Rockets are not very good

J.R. Smith: 'I don’t think anyone can beat us'

SCOTUS asked to overturn baseball's antitrust exemption

Is Chip Kelly expecting too much from Josh Huff?

Ubaldo Jimenez hit Pablo Sandoval with pitch, was ejected

NBA to track and post referees’ calls beginning in playoffs

MLB payrolls continue to rise

NBA playoffs: Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs

Home runs ruined our ability to appreciate production

Why we love the NFL draft

There are only two contenders ... in the West?

Woman stripped of marathon win, didn't actually run in race

Matt Barnes' son betrays him for Steph Curry

WATCH: Padres fan saved from falling by alert cameraman

Kemp hosts Seattle party over OKC missing playoffs

Jim Harbaugh showed up at Ultimate Frisbee practice

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Leaked Clippers jersey redesigns

Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase preview

Home runs ruined our ability to appreciate production

Why we love the NFL draft

The "worst" player on each NBA playoff team

Jim Harbaugh showed up at Ultimate Frisbee practice

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and the burden of legacy

Kris Bryant and floor versus ceiling

Top 10 storylines of the NBA Playoffs

A-Rod being taken to court over unpaid legal fees

Could Wilson really be a two-sport star?

Five players who must step up in the NBA playoffs

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.