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Nebraska vs. Penn State Pick with Analysis

11/12/11

We could write a book about the Penn State scandal with Sandusky, Joe Paterno and the whole big mess. We won't. But we will include our thoughts on how it impacts this game at the end of this write up.

Penn State (8-1) has had a nice run in 2011. Their overall record sits at 8-1 and they are undefeated in Big Ten play. They are the king of the Leaders division and will have their first big test come at home against Legends division team Nebraska. Nebraska is a -3.5 point road favorite with a total of 43

Nebraska (7-2) is having a strong year under Bo Pelini, but they are under the gun after losing two Big Ten games in a row. They no longer control their own destiny and a loss here would almost certainly eliminate them from contention. This is a team full of fight though and they won't go away easily.

The Huskers best wins have come against Iowa and Illinois, both teams with records of 6-3. Multi-talented QB Taylor Martinez is their best offensive weapon. He has passed for 1,545 yards and 10 TDs this year, but his most important work is done with his legs. He's racked up 712 yards and 9 TDs. His longest run of the year was 57 yards.

Penn State will rely on RB Silas Redd who stands at 1,007 rushing yards and 7 TDs. His best game of the year was against Illinois where he ran for 164 yards and 1 TD. His YPC was a whopping 9.1! QB Matthew McGloin is getting better all the time, but he wont win games for this team. The defense has to do that. They rank 3rd in the nation in Points Against at just 12.4. They will need to shut the Huskers down.

We were surprised that this line didn't get out of hand when this Sandusky scandal broke on Sunday. The game opened -2 and has climbed to -3.5 and even 4 in spots. There is no question that this scandal will impact this game. The question is, how? Reports from Penn State have said the team captains got the team together and tried to rally the troops with the main point being, they had nothing to do with this mess, don't let it ruin our year. Will the team rally and play inspired football for each other?

The coaching staff is a mess. Aside from Paterno, who is little more than a figurehead these days, the rest of the staff has been impacted. His son is on the staff, McQueary, the assistant who saw one of the assaults is on the staff, and this is THE biggest news story in the country right now. This is being written on Wednesday and all indications right now are that Paterno will finish the year. That being said, this scandal will obviously be a distraction to the Penn State football team the rest of the way.

Just handicapping this game on the performance of these two teams this year, we'd be playing Penn State here. Our model likes them by a score of 17-10.  The Penn State offense leaves a lot to be desired but the defense is big time. They rank #3 in points allowed, 24th against the run and 7th against the pass. Nebraska ranks 101st offensively in the passing game so it's hard to imagine them doing much there.

Without the scandal, Penn State might be a key release. But we can't get involved with this game considering all that's going on. It's not going to go away and is likely to be more of a distraction as the week goes on. You just can't predict how this will sway the game. If we had to make a guess, we'd guess that Nebraska blows them off the field this week as a result. But you just never know.

On a personal note, Joe Paterno had a helluva career. It was especially inspiring to watch him the last few years, before he went up to the press box, an 80+ year old man running on to the field leading his team. Shows you that it pays to stay active and involved with something you're passionate about for as long as you are able to. That being said, the man did not do enough in this situation and that's very clear. He could have, and he should have, done more. With that in mind, he should not be allowed to coach another game. A message needs to be sent that whether you're just an anonymous citizen, or a major sports figure, you cannot look the other way when you're aware of such horrific acts.

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