Posted by Adam Jacobi
NEBRASKA WON. In a game marked more for everything that's happened off the field than on it, No. 19 Nebraska won a 17-14 game at No. 12 Penn State. Rex Burkhead registered 126 yards on 27 carries, including Nebraska's last touchdown of the game to make it 17-0, a deficit too large for PSU to overcome.
WHY NEBRASKA WON: Above all else, Nebraska won because it started putting things together faster than Penn State did. The score was close, the stats were close (if not identical) in every significant category, and the talent on the field was close to begin with. But Nebraska's the team that went up first, and went up big; at the end of the day, interim head coach Tom Bradley couldn't lead his charges all the way back.
WHEN NEBRASKA WON: When Penn State's last desperation play of the game fizzled, as Matt McGloin's pass was about 40 yards shy of the end zone -- and incomplete anyway. Penn State had held on 4th and 1 at its 29 with 44 seconds left, but the Nittany Lions' hurry-up offense was dreadful on the final try.
WHAT NEBRASKA WON: Not only did the Huskers stay alive in the Legends Division race, they registered their biggest road win of the season. Michigan State didn't cooperate, beating Iowa to stay atop the division, but if the Spartans somehow slip up and Nebraska doesn't, the Huskers will be going to Indianapolis in December. Speaking more to the game itself, Taylor Martinez looked downright competent at times, completing multiple 3rd and long throws for first downs. That's an accomplishment for the young man, who as a passer has often been Nebraska's biggest weakness.
WHAT PENN STATE LOST: With this loss, there are no more Big Ten teams undefeated in conference play; Penn State falls to 8-2 (5-1) on the season. Moreover, the vulnerabilities that have plagued PSU all season long -- dodgy QB play, offensive line struggles, and a rush defense that isn't quite as good as the front seven's talent level would indicate -- were all on display again today, and when that happens in a loss, it's a lot harder to ignore those problems.
THAT WAS AMAZING: In a scene that college football could use a lot more of, before the game, the Penn State and Nebraska players greeted each other at midfield to shake hands. After that, the 100,000-strong crowd fell silent as the two teams -- joined by coaches, former players, and everybody else on the sidelines -- joined in prayer. For a game so wrought by scandal and horror, this was the perfect way to demonstrate that everyone's hearts and minds were in the right place.