No. 12 Penn St, No. 19 Huskers meet in key game

There’s also a game.

Yes, No. 19 Nebraska and 12th-ranked Penn State will play a

football game Saturday in Happy Valley.

It will be a three-hour diversion from the lurid child sex abuse

scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky that has shocked

the sports world and led to the firing of the iconic Joe

Paterno.

All indications are that getting on the field will be cathartic

for the Nittany Lions.

”If you’re going through hell, keep going,” PSU quarterback

Matt McGloin tweeted late this week.

And purely in football terms, it’s an interesting matchup.

The Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten), for all their troubles,

have a two-game lead in the Leaders Division and are harboring Rose

Bowl hopes as they enter the toughest stretch of their schedule.

Interim coach Tom Bradley said the goals won’t change under the

difficult circumstances.

”They know what they have to get done,” Bradley said. ”I

expect them to come out and play a good, hard football game.

They’ve prepared themselves, they’ve worked awfully hard and I

would be disappointed if they didn’t.”

The Cornhuskers (7-2, 3-2) are fighting to stay alive in the

Legends after Northwestern upset them at home last week.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said he can’t predict what type of

atmosphere his team will encounter. Emotions could run high on and

off the field, or – after kick off – it might be like any other

game.

The Huskers were beaten 48-17 in their toughest road game to

date, at Wisconsin, but are 12-5 away from home in Pelini’s four

years.

”We’ve shown the past few years that we love playing in

environments like that,” tight end Ben Cotton said. ”We’re a good

team at being able to make those good solid business trips, staying

within ourselves and not paying attention to the distractions

around us.”

No serious consideration was given to postponing or moving the

game because of the high emotions in State College, Pa.

Bradley said the Nittany Lions’ 20 seniors deserve to have their

Senior Day, and he implored PSU students and fans to be on their

best behavior.

Police in riot gear dispersed about 2,000 people who took to the

streets after Paterno’s firing Wednesday. Crowds toppled a

television news van and kicked in its windows, and at least one

photographer was pelted with a rock. Officers used pepper spray at

times to control the crowd.

A Nebraska regent said he feared possible hooliganism inside and

outside Beaver Stadium that could threaten the safety of the

Huskers and their fans. Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said

he’s been assured extra security measures are in place, but he

suggested that Husker fans not wear or do anything that would make

them stand out.

Bradley said Thursday that it hadn’t been decided whether

McGloin or Rob Bolden would start under center. McGloin and Bolden

have shared playing time this season. McGloin started the past two

games but struggled in a 10-7 win over Illinois.

Silas Redd is the Nittany Lions’ top offensive threat. He’s had

five straight 100-yard games, the most by a PSU running back since

Curtis Enis had eight in a row in 1997.

The Lions will try to puncture Nebraska’s injury-plagued

defensive front. Star tackle Jared Crick (torn chest muscle) is out

for the season, Thad Randle (knee) might not come back, and Chase

Rome (muscle pull) missed last week’s game.

Pelini said Rome might play Saturday, but Nebraska has tinkered

this week with defensive end Cameron Meredith at tackle to shore up

the line.

The Huskers, held to a season-low 122 yards rushing by

Northwestern, will be going against one of the nation’s top

defenses. Bradley, who worked 33 years under Paterno, will turn

over the defensive coordinator duties to Larry Johnson and Ron

Vanderlinden.

If Rex Burkhead can’t make a dent on the ground, Nebraska

quarterback Taylor Martinez will have to beat Penn State with his

arm.

That’s been a 50-50 proposition this year. He was abysmal

against Wisconsin, throwing three interceptions. But he’s been

solid the last six quarters against Michigan State and

Northwestern, having completed 34 of 44 passes for 369 yards and

two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Nebraska receiver Kenny Bell said he doubts Penn State will let

down because of the scandal.

”They’re 8-1, undefeated in the Big Ten… a program like that,

the kind of coaching staff they have, I’ve got nothing but respect

for these guys. They’re coming off a bye week. They’re going to be

ready to play football this Saturday.”

Yes, the Nittany Lions will be, PSU safety Nick Sukay

tweeted.

”Saturdays more than just any ordinary game,” he wrote.

”We’ll be ready to show our penn state pride on the field saturday

along with thousands of others.”