Nebraska-Penn State preview: Push for New Year's bowl continues

Ohio St Nebraska Football
Nebraska’s Devine Ozigbo carries the ball against Rutgers during a September game.

After a four-year absence, Penn State (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) and Nebraska (4-6, 3-4) will meet up once again Saturday at Beaver Stadium with the same general goal.

The Nittany Lions, who are ranked this week at No. 10 by the College Football Playoff selection committee and No. 13 by the Associated Press, want to win out to try to earn a berth in a New Year’s Six bowl, maybe the Cotton Bowl. The Cornhuskers, meanwhile, just want to get in a bowl and need wins Saturday and next week just to make it to the required six wins.

The Lions are coming off a workmanlike 35-6 victory last week over Rutgers in which Saquon Barkley scored two touchdowns but once again struggled in the rushing game. Nebraska was overwhelmed last week, 54-21, by Minnesota, allowing 409 yards on the ground. Redshirt junior quarterback Tanner Lee suffered a concussion in the game and missed the first two days of practice this week. Even if he is cleared to play Saturday, redshirt freshman quarterback Patrick O’Brien might be the starter because he has received more practice time.

Nebraska at Penn State

How to follow and watch the game

When: Saturday, 4 p.m.

Where: Beaver Stadium, State College.

TV: FS1

Radio: 990-AM, WNTP; 1440-AM, WNPV

Twitter: @joejulesinq, @_jillbeckman

Coaches

Penn State, James Franklin (4th season, 33-17; overall, 57-32); Nebraska, Mike Riley (3rd season, 19-17; overall, 112-97).

Key players

Penn State: RB Saquon Barkley, 5-11, 230, Jr. (899 yards rushing, 5.4-yard average per carry, 40 receptions for 524 yards, 30.2-yard average on kickoff returns, 184.6-yard average in all-purpose yardage, 16 total TDs); QB Trace McSorley, 6-0, 195, R-Jr. (65.0 percent completion rate, 2,666 yards, 21 TDs, 8 interceptions, 9 TDs rushing); TE Mike Gesicki, 6-6, 250, Sr. (42 catches, 419 yards, 5 TDs); WR DaeSean Hamilton, 6-1, 206, R-Sr. (39 receptions, 646 yards, 7 TDs); WR Juwan Johnson, 6-4, 226, R-So. (37 receptions, 467 yards, 1 TD); LB Jason Cabinda, 6-1, 234, Sr. (74 tackles, 5 tackles for loss); FS Marcus Allen, 6-2, 207, Sr. (59 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 interception); DE Shareef Miller, 6-5, 257, R-So. (8 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks); CB Amani Oruwariye, 6-1, 209, R-Jr. (4 interceptions); K Tyler Davis, 5-11, 183, R-Sr. (8-15 field goals, long 47).

Nebraska: I-Back Devine Ozigbo, 6-0, 230, Jr. (468 yards rushing, 3.9-yard average per carry, 2 TDs); QB Tanner Lee, 6-4, 220, R-Jr. (57.2 percent completion rate, 2,539 yards, 18 TDs, 13 interceptions); QB Patrick O’Brien, R-Fr. (60 percent completion rate, 192 yards); WR JD Spielman, 5-9, 180, R-Fr. (49 catches, 734 yards, 2 TDs); WR Stanley Morgan Jr. (47 catches, 727 yards, 7 TDs); LB Chris Weber, 6-3, 240, Sr. (82 tackles, 8 tackles for loss); LB Dedrick Young, 6-1, 235, Jr.(68 tackles); LB Ben Stille, 6-5, 255, R-Fr. (8 tackles for loss, 3 ½ sacks); K Drew Brown, 5-11, 200, Sr. (11-13 field goals, long 44).

Head to head

Nebraska holds a 9-7 lead in the series. The two teams have not played since 2013, a 23-20 overtime victory for the Cornhuskers at Beaver Stadium. Nebraska is the only team that Penn State had yet to play since Franklin took over as head coach.

Penn State’s coming games

Saturday, Nov. 25, at Maryland, 3:30 p.m.

Bowl game, TBD