GAME 10: NEBRASKA at PENN STATE
NOV. 12, 2011 | BEAVER STADIUM
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. | 11 A.M. (CT)
Record: 7-2, 3-2
Rankings: Coaches-17; AP-19
Last Game: lost Northwestern, 28-25
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career/NU Record: 37-14/4th year
vs. PSU: 0-0
Record: 8-1, 5-0
Rankings: Coaches-12; AP-12
Last Game: def. Illinois, 10-7
Coach: Joe Paterno
Career/PSU Record: 406-136-3/46th year
vs. NU: 3-4
Nebraska continues a difficult stretch run in Big Ten Conference play this Saturday when the Huskers travel to Penn State for a matchup with the Big Ten’s only unbeaten team in league play. Game time for the meeting between two of college football’s traditional powers is set for Noon ET at Beaver Stadium, with ESPN providing the television coverage.
Nebraska dropped to 3-2 in the Big Ten and 7-2 overall with a 28-25 loss to Northwestern last Saturday in Lincoln. The loss dropped Nebraska one game behind Legends Division leader Michigan State with three weeks of conference
action remaining. Following this week’s trip to No. 12 Penn State, the Huskers travel to 22nd-ranked Michigan on Nov. 19 and close out the regular season on Nov. 25 against Iowa. The loss to Northwestern ended Nebraska’s eight-game home winning streak and dropped the Huskers to 19th in the AP Poll, No. 17 in the Coaches Poll and 19th in the latest BCS rankings.
Penn State has won seven straight games since a loss to No. 4 Alabama on Sept. 10. The 8-1 Nittany Lions are 5-0 in Big Ten play and can clinch a spot in the Big Ten title game by winning two of their final three games, but Penn State also faces a difficult road. After the visit from Nebraska, the Nittany Lions finish with road games at Ohio State and Wisconsin. Penn State is ranked 12th in both the AP and Coaches Poll, and also 12th in the BCS rankings.
The matchup with Penn State will be Nebraska’s second game of the 2011 season between two programs with 800 all-time wins, following a meeting earlier this fall with Ohio State. Nebraska’s sixth such game in school history will come with another 800-win meeting at Michigan on Nov. 19.
The game will be the first between the two schools as members of the Big Ten and the 14th all-time matchup. Penn State holds a 7-6 advantage, including a 5-1 advantage on its home field. The schools most recently met in 2002 and 2003 when they split a home-and-home series. This will the sixth time in the series that both teams have been ranked.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 37-14 record in his fourth season. Pelini has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first three seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich in accomplishing that feat. Pelini has guided Nebraska to a conference championship game the past two seasons and to at least a share of the Big 12 divisional crown his first three seasons as head coach.
Penn State: Joe Paterno (Brown, ‘50) owns a 409-136-3 record in his 46th season as Penn State’s head coach. Paterno became the winningest coach in Division I history with PSU’s win over Illinois on Oct. 29. He has guided the Nittany Lions to two national championships, five unbeaten seasons and 37 bowl appearances.
*-Nebraska is 844-347-40 all-time, one of just eight schools with 800 all-time victories
*-Nebraska has won five national championships (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997).
*-The Cornhuskers have won 43 conference championships.
*-Nebraska's 47 all-time bowl appearances rank fifth nationally.
*-Since 1970, Nebraska has 410 wins, 25 more than any other school.
*-Nebraska's 99 football Academic All-Americans leads the nation.
*-The Huskers have had 107 All-Americans in school history.
Scouting Penn State
Penn State has the Big Ten’s best record at 8-1 this season, and the Nittany Lions are on top of the Leaders Division with a 5-0 mark as the only team unbeaten in conference play. The Nittany Lioins can clinch at least a share of the division title with a win over the Huskers on Saturday. Penn State is 5-1 at home this season and has held three of its five home oponents to a touchdown or less this season.
Overall, Penn State possesses one of the nation’s best defenses. The Nittany Lions rank third nationally in scoring defense, third in pass efficiency defense, seventh in pass defense, eighth in total defense and 24th in rushing defense. PSU is allowing only 12.4 points per game, which leads the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions have held six of their first nine opponents to 10 or fewer points.
Penn State also brings pressure, as the Nittany Lions rank 12th nationally with an average of 7.7 tackles-for-loss per game and are tied for 24th nationally with an average of 2.6 sacks per game. Devon Still ranks fourth nationally
with 15.5 TFLs this season.
Offensively, Silas Redd leads the Penn State rushing attack, as he ranks third in the Big Ten and 18th nationally with an average of 111.8 yards per game. Redd has posted five straight 100-yard rushing games.
As a team, Penn State rushes for 162.4 yards per contest, while adding 194.2 yards through the air. The Nittany Lions rank 88th nationally in total offense and 100th in scoring offense, having been held to 16 points or less five
times this season.
Matt McGloin, who made his first start two weeks ago, is the Nittany Lions’ top passer, throwing for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns.
Penn State leads the all-time series 7-6, including a 5-1 edge at University Park. The teams have only met twice over the past 28 seasons, with each team winning at home. The 18th-ranked Huskers defeated Penn State, 18-10, at Memorial Stadium in 2003, when Bo Pelini was the Huskers’ defensive coordinator. The unranked Nittany Lions cruised to a 40-7 victory over No. 8 NU at Beaver Stadium the previous season.
Prior to those meetings, the teams last met every season during a five-year stretch from 1979 to 1983. Both teams were ranked in the top 20 each of those meetings, including two battles of top-10 teams and one top-five matchup. Nebraska won three of those five meetings, including a 1-1 record at Penn State. The Huskers have lost two straight games at Beaver Stadium and are looking for their first win in the venue since a 21-7 victory in 1980. NU has been held to 59 points in their six trips to Penn State, including two shutouts and two games where they were held to seven point.
Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno
Joe Paterno is in his 46th season as Penn State’s head coach, where he owns a 409- 136-3 career record. Two weeks ago, the Nittany Lions defeated No. 19 Illinois, 10-7, to give Paterno his 409th career victory. That allowed him to pass Eddie Robinson as the all-time leader in victories among all-time NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision coaches (formerly Division I). Paterno ranks second in wins among all collegiate coaches, trailing only Saint John’s (Minn.) Head Coach John Gagliardi, who owns 482 career victories.
The 84-year old Paterno has not lost his touch, as Penn State enters Saturday’s game as the only unbeaten team in Big Ten Conference play. The Nittany Lions are 8-1 this season, with their lone loss coming to Alabama in the second game of the season. Paterno has Penn State eligible for its seventh straight bowl game and the 37th bowl appearance in his career.
Paterno is 3-4 against Nebraska, including a 2-1 mark at Beaver Stadium. He owns a 2-3 record against the Huskers when both teams are ranked.
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini is in his fourth season as Nebraska’s head coach and owns a 37-14 record with the Huskers. Pelini helped Nebraska to at least a share of the Big 12 North title in each of his first three seasons, becoming the first coach in the history of that league to win at least a share of a division title in each of his first three years.
Pelini took charge of the Huskers after a highly successful five-year run as a collegiate defensive coordinator, including orchestrating NU’s defensive efforts in 2003. Pelini picked up his first college head coaching victory as NU’s interim coach in the 2003 Alamo Bowl against Michigan State.
Following his one season at Nebraska, Pelini served as the co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 2004, helping the Sooners to the Big 12 title and BCS title game. He then followed with three seasons as the defensive coordinator at LSU. With the Tigers, Pelini led three consecutive defenses to No. 3 national rankings in total defense. He culminated his time in Baton Rouge by helping the Tigers to the 2007 national championship.
In addition to his five seasons at the collegiate level, Pelini coached in the NFL for nine seasons, serving three years each with the San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. Pelini was a team captain and four-year letterman as a safety at Ohio State from 1987 to 1990.
Pelini Stacks up Well with Peers
In guiding Nebraska to a 37-14 record, Pelini has put himself in some impressive company.
*-Pelini is the fourth Nebraska head coach to win nine games in each of his first three seasons with the Cornhuskers. The others to reach that win plateau were Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich. Pelini has joined Solich as the only NU coaches with two 10-win seasons in their first three years.
*- Pelini, Solich and Texas' Mack Brown were the only coaches in Big 12 history (1996) to win nine or more games in each of their first three seasons.
*-Pelini's nine victories in 2008 tied for the most among 18 coaches in their first season at their respective schools. Among first-time head coaches, Pelini's victory total was the best in the nation. Pelini's 19 victories in his first two seasons were second among that group, and he has moved to the top of the 2008 hiring class with his 36 wins.
*-Pelini was just the eighth BCS conference (since 1998) first-time head coach to post nine or more victories in his first season. He was just the second first-year head coach in that span to win nine games after inheriting a team with a losing record the previous year. Only Pelini and Bill Stewart (former West Virginia coach) from the group won nine games each of the past three seasons.
Pelini Continues Defensive Accomplishments at Nebraska
At Nebraska, Pelini has continued his history of building championship defenses. Nebraska finished second in the Big 12 in total defense in 2008, a year after NU was 100th or worse in nearly every defensive category. In 2009, the Huskers led the nation in scoring defense and had the nation’s best scoring defensive improvement (18.1 ppg). Last season Nebraska again ranked among the nation’s best in several defensive categories.
With Pelini's previous track record, the success of his Nebraska defenses is no surprise.
*-Pelini led the 2003 Blackshirts to impressive numbers. NU had a school-record 47 takeaways, including a Big 12-record 32 interceptions, and finished second nationally in scoring defense, first in pass efficiency defense and 11th in total defense.
*-Pelini guided LSU defenses to No. 3 national finishes in total defense each of his three seasons in Baton Rouge.
*-In 117 games as a collegiate coach, Pelini's defenses have posted 10 shutouts, held the opposition to seven points or less 37 times and to 20 points or less 78 times.
*-Pelini-led defenses have 229 total takeaways, including two top-three national rankings.
Four Assistants in First Season on Husker Staff
After having the same coaching staff for each of his first three seasons at Nebraska, Bo Pelini welcomed four new assistants in 2011. Rich Fisher (receivers), John Garrison (assistant offensive line/tight ends), Ross Els (linebackers) and Corey Raymond (secondary) are all in their first seasons as full-time members of the Husker coaching staff.
In addition to the new faces, Pelini shuffled some duties among returning coaches. Tim Beck takes over the role of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Ron Brown shifts to tutoring the Nebraska running backs.
Nebraska in Inaugural Season in Big Ten Conference
Nebraska officially became the 12th member of the Big Ten Conference on July 1, 2011. The Huskers began their first season of Big Ten Conference earlier this month and are 3-1 in conference action.
Nebraska has won football championships in four conferences during its 121 years of intercollegiate football, and also competed as an independent for several years. Overall, Nebraska has won 43 conference championships.
The major conferences for the Nebraska football program since the first season of play in 1890 include:
1892-1897: Western Inter-State Foot Ball Association
1898-1906, 1918-1920: Independent
1907-1917, 1921-1927: Missouri Valley Conference (12 conference titles)
1928-1947: Big Six Conference (9 conference titles)
1948-1959: Big Seven Conference
1960-1995: Big Eight Conference (20 conference titles)
1996-2010: Big 12 Conference (2 conference titles)
2011-: Big Ten Conference
Nebraska holds a 34-7 record against Big Ten opponents since 1970. Before the loss to Northwestern, the Huskers had won nine straight game in Lincoln against conference foes dating back to a 1981 loss to Penn State.
*-Among Big Ten Conference opponents, Nebraska has faced Minnesota the most, taking on the Gophers 51 times. Minnesota holds a 29-21-2 edge in the all-time series, but Nebraska has won the past 15 meetings dating back to 1963, including this year’s 41-14 win in Minneapolis.
*-Nebraska and Iowa have met 41 times in football, with the Huskers owning a 26-12-3 advantage. The two teams have met just six times since 1946, with NU winning five of those six meetings. Nebraska and Iowa will complete the regular season against each other through at least 2014, and will battle on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2011 and 2012. Nebraska has played on the day after Thanksgiving every year since 1990, facing either Oklahoma or Colorado.
*-Aside from Minnesota and Iowa, Nebraska had faced the remaining six Big Ten foes on the 2011 schedule a total of 35 times entering the season, led by 13 meetings with Penn State.
Legends and Leaders
The Big Ten Conference is divided into two divisions for football competition–Legends and Leaders. Winners of the respective divisions will meet on Dec. 3 in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship.
Nebraska is in the Legends Division along with Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern. Nebraska will face each member of the Legends Division on an annual basis. The Leaders Division consists of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. The Huskers will face Penn State every year in a protected cross-over game, while the other five opponents will rotate onto Nebraska’s schedule.
In 2011 and 2012, Nebraska will face Ohio State and Wisconsin from the Leaders Division. Nebraska will take on Illinois and Purdue in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and does not face Indiana in the regular season in its first four years of Big Ten schedules.
The 2011 Schedule
Nebraska is facing arguably one of the nation’s most difficult schedules in 2011 and one of the most demanding slates in school history. As of Nov. 6, Nebraska’s schedule was ranked as the nation’s fifth-most difficult slate in the
country and toughest in the Big Ten. The opposition’s winning percentage is .630.
The 2011 schedule featured nine games against teams that participated in a bowl game in 2010. Included in that group are BCS bowl teams Ohio State (Sugar) and Wisconsin (Rose). Other teams that appeared in a bowl game include Fresno State (Humanitarian), Washington (Holiday), Michigan State (Capital One), Northwestern (Ticket City), Penn State (Outback), Michigan (Gator) and Iowa (Insight).
Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State shared the Big Ten title in 2010, and each of those three schools won 11 regular-season games.
Nebraska’s home schedule was arguably the most attractive in school history. In addition to the new flavor of Big Ten foes, six of the seven opponents coming to Memorial Stadium competed in a bowl game last fall.