Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/23/14
In this game a year ago at Beaver Stadium, the Penn State football community and the nation was in awe as an off-field scandal clouded what was, at the time, a matchup of two excellent football teams. This time around, it’s all about the matchup on the field. The Penn State Nittany Lions (6-3, 4-1 Big Ten), winners of six of their last seven games, travel to Lincoln to take on the No. 16 Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten), fresh off a thrilling last-minute victory at Michigan State, on Saturday afternoon. Life has been interesting to say the least for Penn State in the past year, but the Lions have risen up and overcome outside distractions to become a good football team on the field. Last November legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno had been fired earlier in the week, and the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal was only beginning when the Lions hosted the Cornhuskers. Now, just a year later, Paterno is gone, Sandusky is in jail, and the Nittany Lions have started a new era under coach Bill O’Brien and are turning the pages of the past to an ever-promising future. That future has been given a kickstart by senior quarterback Matt McGloin, who has guided O’Brien’s offense with efficiency and effectiveness to make the Lions one of the best units in the Big Ten. On the flip side, the Nebraska offense hasn’t been too shabby either, averaging close to 500 total yards per game in addition to 38 points per game. Led by junior quarterback Taylor Martinez, the Huskers have won three-straight since losing at Ohio State in early October. The run has positioned the Huskers with an opportunity to clinch their first Big Ten Legends Division title and subsequent berth in the Big Ten Championship game if they win out their remaining games. Standing in the way of that is Penn State’s stout defense that is allowing just 17.1 points per game this season and has been tough against the run all year. They’ll need to be again this weekend when they meet the nation’s sixth best rushing attack at 269 yards per game for the Huskers. Making duties even tougher for the Penn State defense already having to deal with the dual-threat Martinez is that the Huskers may get starting tailback Rex Burkhead back this week after missing two weeks with nagging injuries. Burkhead thrashed the Lions for 121 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries a year ago. Even if Burkhead can’t go again for coach Bo Pellini, the Huskers’ leading rusher, Ameer Abdullah, has racked up more than 825 yards and eight touchdowns on the season and should provide a challenge for the Penn State defense in addition to Martinez. In addition to the hard-nosed Nittany Lion defense, the team has carved out an efficient offense under O’Brien’s guidance that has hit its stride in Big Ten play lately, averaging 439.2 total yards in Big Ten play this season. They racked up more than 500 total yards in a 34-9 win at Purdue last Saturday. The offense starts with McGloin, who has helped the Lions outscore opponents 76-3 in the first quarter and 137-33 in the first half. When McGloin is on his game, the Lions are potent through the air even without a normally powerful Penn State rushing attack. The senior isn’t shy about finding his favorite target, receiver Allen Robinson, downfield or underneath to his stable of capable pass catching tight ends. And when that hasn’t worked, McGloin can do it himself with his legs, leading the team with five rushing touchdowns. Players to watch:  Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska. The junior makes the offense go for the Huskers. When Martinez is on his game he’s one of the very best dual-threats from the position in the country, maybe the best. Given Penn State’s overall inconsistency when facing dual-threat quarterbacks in the past, including this season, Martinez could be in for a big day behind a massive offensive line. Look for a couple big plays from him in the passing game as well, the Lions will most likely do a good job against the run, but leave some plays open downfield for Martinez and try and have him beat them that way rather than letting him run all over them. Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State. If Penn State’s defense is overmatched like it was against Nebraska last season, McGloin and Penn State’s offense is better equipped to get in a shootout this time around. He has playmakers at skill positions all over the field and will definitely find some holes in a Huskers defense giving up close to 30 points per game this season. If his defense can get some early stops and contain Martinez, McGloin could have the Lions up late and bidding for the road upset. Matchup to watch:  Penn State’s defense vs. Nebraska’s rushing attack. It’s the obvious matchup on the field, but it’s the one that will decide the game. Simply put, if Nebraska can run the ball on Penn State’s defense with some success, they’ll control the clock and keep the ball away from McGloin and score points in the process. If they can’t, and Penn State’s defense can hang tough, McGloin will put the Lions in position to score against an average Nebraska defense and make life interesting for the Huskers late in a game yet again.  
PLAYERS: Allen Robinson
TEAMS:
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Percy Harvin not planning on changing

Ricky Williams: People are let down when I turn down weed

Joe Maddon opts out of contract with Rays

Randall Cobb: Contract situation played role in slow start

Notre Dame WR faces discipline if he hooked up with porn star?

PGA president calls Ian Poulter ‘lil girl’ for Nick Faldo comments

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Belichick declines to address Revis' reported tardiness

Texas mayor delays Halloween for Friday night football game

C-USA hired PR firm to help Marshall’s playoff chances

Wilson denies rumored Harvin rift, blames media for scrutiny

Report: Cowboys could limit DeMarco Murray's touches

Lakers announce Steve Nash to miss season with back issues

'FIFA 15' glitch turns goalie into headless giant with no arms

WATCH: HBO releases trailer of 'The Offseason: Kevin Durant'

Broncos corner snags INT, then takes pregnant wife to hospital

Gurley dressed up as a pirate for Halloween, yelled, 'Free me'

What the return of Luis Suarez means for Barcelona

Nick Saban pens touching letter after high school coach dies

NBA Replay Center readies for its debut on Opening Night

WATCH: Former NBAer delivers vicious flying elbow Down Under

RNS looking to add agents with existing client rosters

Would World Series win make the Giants a dynasty?

NFL teams facing potential must-win scenarios in Week 8

WATCH: Jeremy Lin poses as Adidas employee for prank

Nittany Lions 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!

Joe Maddon opts out of contract with Rays

NBA Replay Center debuts next week

World Series win = Giants dynasty?

Reliving the worst college football game of the last 10 years

NFL teams facing must-win scenarios in Week 8

What the return of Luis Suarez means for Barcelona

Programs with a lot on the line this week

Wilson denies rumored Harvin rift

Lakers: Steve Nash out for season

Is Mack Brown SMU's best option?

Are sports leagues finally getting serious about domestic violence?

Brian Urlacher rips Jay Cutler

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.