Penn State football 2011: Game 9 - PSU vs. Nebraska
Pretending for a moment that we're talking about Penn State football again
Going into the bye week, before Penn State was hit with a figurative nuclear bomb - the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse charges that have rocked the university and shook the nation - there was excitement about upcoming football games.
Penn State was 8-1 and on a seven-game winning streak. The Lions also were 5-0 in Big Ten play and if they could win two of their final three games would clinch a spot in the Big Ten title game, and depending on other results, one of three might possibly be enough.
Of course the final three games were daunting: vs. Nebraska, at Ohio State and at Wisconsin.
Clearly, in the opinion of RFBS, Nebraska looked like the most likely win for PSU of the final three: It is at home, it is Senior Day, PSU is coming off a bye, and RFBS thought Nebraska was a good matchup for the Lions and a little overrated.
Then Nebraska went out and proved it was a little overrated by losing to Northwestern at home last week.
Of course, the Cornhuskers will rebound and play better. Even before the scandal had truly set in, oddsmakers made Nebraska a slight favorite.
How will PSU play, given the extraordinary mental and emotional strain of this week? Who knows. There's simply no way to predict that. There's nothing to compare this situation to.
Here's what RFBS would have forecasted had the tragic scandal never happened:
Rested and with extra prep time, the mighty PSU defense would play one of its best games of the season. The Nebraska offense seems to play right into Penn State's hands. PSU, in general, plays the run very well and prevents deep passes with soft zone CBs and deep LB drops. Nebraska likes to run the ball as its first, second and third options, and chuck it deep as the fourth option due to the sublime running skills but very limited passing ability of QB Taylor Martinez. PSU would have been able to stymie Nebraska's predictable, one-and-a-half trick offense (they don't hit those deep balls enough for it to warrant full-trick status).
Likewise, Nebraska's D would have fairly easily limited the tepid PSU offense. But with the extra week to prepare and a healthy WR Derek Moye, the Lions would have added a couple wrinkles to help get an early score. Late in the game, with Nebraska tiring and frustrated by its own offensive struggles, the PSU offensive line and RB Silas Redd would have led another touchdown drive.
PSU 19, Nebraska 13. That was the prediction prior to the madness. Now, who knows? Anything seems possible. Hopefully it's a good game, hopefully after the first few plays it just settles in to being a regular football game. But really, the final outcome has never seemed to matter less. Hopefully the game is without incident, on and off the field. Hopefully, in some small way, the game is a little uplifting. Clean, pure college competition.
Also, PSU is without two coaches. Mike McQueary, who seemed to do everything related to the offense on the sideline during games, was placed on administrative leave Friday. And you might have heard about the other missing coach and what happened to him.
This is the first game since 1949 that Joe Paterno will not be on the Penn State sideline.