Nebraska football

No. 10 Penn State coasts to win over Nebraska

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USA Today Images

No. 10 Penn State coasts to win over Nebraska

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Saquon Barkley collected 224 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns as No. 10 Penn State battered Nebraska, 56-44, Saturday afternoon in its final home game of the season.

Barkley, slowed in recent weeks after a strong start to the season, rushed 17 times for 158 yards and three scores, and caught six passes for 66 yards, helping the Lions improve to 9-2.

PSU, which closes out the regular season next week at Maryland, generated its most points since it put up 63 against Illinois in 2005.

Trace McSorley clicked on 24 of 36 passes for 325 yards and three scores, two to tight end Mike Gesicki. McSorley also rushed nine times for 46 yards and a TD.

Barkley, who rushed 14 times for 142 yards and three scores in the first half, surpassed 1,000 yards on the ground for the third straight season, just the second player in school history to do that.

He also broke PSU’s all-time record for rushing touchdowns. He now has 39, one more than Lydell Mitchell, the previous record-holder.

McSorley went 18-of-28 for 259 yards and two TDs in the first half when the Lions built a 42-10 lead.

Nebraska fell to 4-7.

• Barkley had managed just 142 yards on 49 carries in his three previous games, but he broke off a 65-yard touchdown run 57 seconds into the game, and by the end of the first quarter had piled up 111 yards on the ground. On a related note, Nebraska entered the game last in the Big Ten in rushing defense (200.1 yards per game).

• The first touchdown came on a run to the left, and the Nittany Lions had repeated success running in that direction behind guard Steven Gonzalez and tackle Will Fries.

• Nebraska took advantage of two Penn State special-teams breakdowns to take a 10-7 lead later in the first quarter. A short punt by the Huskers’ Caleb Lightbourn bounced off the Lions’ Zech McPhearson and was recovered by Marquel Dismuke, setting up Drew Brown’s 28-yard field goal. Then, with PSU backed up at its own 18, Blake Gillikin’s 18-yard punt gave Nebraska the ball at the Penn State 36. Tanner Lee’s completions of 17 yards to JD Spielman and 18 yards to Stanley Morgan Jr. set up a one-yard TD run by Devine Ozigbo.

• The Nittany Lions answered with touchdowns on their next five possessions, all of them on drives that consumed at least 65 yards, to take command. First McSorley’s 43-yard pass to Juwan Johnson led to Barkley’s 1-yard plunge, putting PSU ahead to stay at 14-10. Then Barkley jumpstarted an eight-play, 85-yard march with a 30-yard run — a drive that also included McSorley’s 22-yard pass to Saeed Blacknall on 3rd-and-10 — and McSorley ended it with a nine-yard run. McSorley later threw TD passes to Gesicki and DeAndre Thompkins covering 9 and 15 yards, respectively, and Barkley powered eight yards to the end zone.

• The Lions, whose point total was their highest in a first half since they put up 56 at Illinois in 2005, owned a 439-77 yardage advantage at that point.

• Nebraska cut the gap to 42-24 with two third-quarter touchdowns, on a 24-yard run by Mikale Wilbon and Lee’s 22-yard pass to De’Mornay Pierson-El, but McSorley found Gesicki for a 17-yard TD just over a minute into the fourth quarter, and backup quarterback Tommy Stevens later hit Nick Bowers for a 15-yard score.

• The Huskers added three TDs in the final 6:32, on Lee's eight-yard pass to Morgan, Wilbon's one-yard run and Lee's three-yard pass to Jack Stoll. The latter came on the game's final play. 

• Lee, who threw for 399 yards, started despite suffering a head injury in last week’s loss to Minnesota, which resulted in his placement in the concussion protocol.

• Gesicki finished with four catches for 47 yards and two scores. His 1,376 career receiving yards are an all-time record for a PSU tight end, eclipsing the previous mark of 1,343, set by Ted Kwalick (1966-68). Gesicki's 13 career TDs are also a record for someone at his position. 

• Juwan Johnson had five catches for 105 yards, the first 100-yard receiving game of his career.

• Penn State was again without offensive tackle Ryan Bates and defensive end Ryan Buchholz, each of whom missed their third straight game with a leg injury. Both were injured in the Oct. 28 loss at Ohio State. The Lions were also without linebacker Manny Bowen for the second straight week. He violated a team rule, according to coach James Franklin.

• The announced attendance was 106,722, despite intermittent showers.

No. 10 Penn State vs. Nebraska: Staying in hunt for New Year's Day bowl

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

No. 10 Penn State vs. Nebraska: Staying in hunt for New Year's Day bowl

No. 10 Penn State (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) vs. Nebraska (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten)
Beaver Stadium, State College, Pennsylvania
Saturday, 4 p.m., FS1

Scouting Penn State
The 10th-ranked Nittany Lions drubbed Rutgers, 35-6, last week, as Trace McSorley threw for two touchdowns and ran for one. Saquon Barkley also rushed for two scores, but was limited to a season-low 35 yards on 14 attempts. Barkley, second in the FBS in all-purpose yards per game (184.6), needs 101 yards on the ground for his third straight 1,000-yard season. He also leads the Big Ten with 16 touchdowns, and last week became PSU’s all-time leader in all-purpose yardage (5,055). Linebacker Manny Bowen will be held out of his second straight game for what coach James Franklin said was a violation of a team rule, but Franklin hinted Tuesday that offensive tackle Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood) and defensive end Ryan Buchholz (Great Valley) might be available. Both suffered undisclosed leg injuries against Ohio State on Oct. 28 and have missed the last two games.

Scouting Nebraska
Things are falling apart for the Cornhuskers, who have dropped four of their last five games. Coach Mike Riley appears likely to be fired at season’s end, and quarterback Tanner Lee suffered a head injury in last week’s 54-21 loss to Minnesota, leading to his placement in the concussion protocol. If he can’t play, freshman Patrick O’Brien will get the start. He has gone 18 of 30 for 192 yards in limited action this year, without a touchdown pass. He has been intercepted once. He has two solid receivers in JD Spielman (49 catches, 734 yards, two touchdowns) and Stanley Morgan (47-727-7), but the Huskers are 13th in the 14-team Big Ten in rushing offense (115.6 yards per game). Nebraska is also last in the conference in rushing defense (200.1), and next-to-last in scoring defense (32.5) and total defense (412.0).

History
Nebraska leads the all-time series, 9-7, and has won the last four meetings, including a 23-20 overtime victory in 2013. The teams haven’t squared off since.

Storyline to watch
Once again, the Lions will try to solve an eminently solvable run defense. They have managed just 256 yards on the ground in their last three games, on 87 attempts (2.9 per try), and are just ninth in the Big Ten in rushing, averaging 146 yards a game.

What's at stake
The Lions will honor 23 seniors beforehand. They will also try to remain in the hunt for a New Year’s Day bowl.

Prediction

Penn State 42, Nebraska 17

5 minutes with Roob: Nate Gerry, track superstar?

5 minutes with Roob: Nate Gerry, track superstar?

Roob: Hey everybody, welcome to 5 Minutes with Roob. We’re here today with Eagles’ — well, we’ll call you linebacker/safety Nate Gerry. Before we started this, I made a list of the five greatest Eagles ever from Nebraska. So, I just wanted to bounce this off you.

No. 5: Dave Rimington, the great center who I believe was your interim AD over the last couple months.

No. 4: Correll Buckhalter, the great running back.

No. 3: Irving Fryar, who I think should be in the Hall of Fame, a tremendous wide receiver.

No. 2: Bob Brown, who is in the Hall of Fame. Offensive tackle.

No. 1: Nate Gerry. You gotta go No. 1 because we’re doing this, so that’s why the list. But a lot of great Nebraska Cornhuskers came to the Philadelphia Eagles over the years. Welcome to Philly and you’re back on the active roster now, what’s the practice squad like? What was that experience like for you? Is it any different than being on the 53, other than on payday, I guess?

Gerry: No, when you’re at this level, every day you’re trying to work on your craft no matter the level, no matter the term you’re under, I guess. For me, still transitioning to a new spot, I’m just trying to get better every day at the new position. So, I think being on the practice squad, it helped me progress a little more, but I think that I still have the tools to be a very good linebacker, so just being able to work every day is the same.

Roob: Now, I’m a big track and field guy and I seem to remember 10.54 (seconds) in the 100m and 21.52 in the 200m, I believe were your (personal records). Two-time state champion and threw the shot put 47 feet in one meet that you were asked to throw the shot put. How much of a track guy were you growing up in high school, and how much did you love doing that?

Gerry: To be honest with you, I wasn’t a track guy at all. That was my dad and my brother, they were the 400-meter runner guys. I was a baseball player, actually. After my freshman year, playing school ball, I wanted to be a college football player. Coming from South Dakota, it’s tough to get recruited and things like that, so I sat down, talked to my coach, and an easier way to get your name out there was with track. I didn’t really know or understand how fast I was until, I think I won the first meet in the 100m, and I was in like Heat 3. So, it was kind of an eye-opener for me, so after that I kind of put a lot of work into it. But a lot of that work was just because I wanted to be a football player. 

Roob: What was life like in Sioux Falls and Washington High School, I guess, kind of out of the way, like you said. It’s tough to get noticed and then coming to Philadelphia is a little bit different. What was your life like growing up there?

Gerry: I love Sioux Falls, I love South Dakota. The people there are great. On our license plates, it says ‘Great Faces, Great Places’ and that’s exactly what it is. There’s a lot of great people there. It’s not very big, but it’s big enough. You’re able to do your own thing. It was a great place for family, very safe. So I loved everything about it. I’ve had a lot of support from South Dakota and I’m very honored to be one of the only guys to come out of South Dakota. So, to have the support of the whole state means a lot to me and my family. It’s a little different coming out to Philly but I’m still transitioning a little bit.

Roob: What’s been the biggest thing to adjust to in this city?

Gerry: Probably all the traffic, man. That’s one thing they’re not lying about. Philly traffic, it’s the real deal. 

Roob: I still haven’t adjusted. It took me an hour and a half to get down 95 to work yesterday. Now, you actually started as a linebacker in college, right? You started out at linebacker and then moved to safety as a sophomore?

Gerry: I started as a safety, kind of lack of depth. Coach asked me if I could move and I told him I would. So, I guess I could say I started …. but I went through a whole summer playing safety and I got through the transition, but throughout the whole year, my safeties coach was still trying to pull me away and he always told me at the end of the year that I was going to get moved back to safety. It worked out in the long run.

Roob: It did, and you have knowledge of two positions. There’s guys like Malcolm (Jenkins), who’s a safety, but he plays linebacker in some defenses. How has it helped you to have kind of the background of both positions?

Gerry: I think it helps with both run and pass. Safety, you gotta do a little bit of both. And same with linebacker, you gotta do a little bit of both. So being able to know run fits as a linebacker helped me as a safety and vice-versa. Then playing safety helps me as a linebacker with coverages and stuff like that. When I was playing safety, I knew where the linebacker should’ve been. So me playing linebacker, I know where the safeties and stuff are at. So they go hand-in-hand together.

Roob: Now, there’s a lot of people — I think you lost three games in high school, Nebraska has always been a powerhouse. I covered Mike Rougier in high school, great Nebraska running back. So to come here and be a part of what this team is doing, how cool is it to start your pro career — team is 7-1, won six straight and everything is just rolling. It’s a great locker room and a great bunch of guys. How cool is it to start this way?

Gerry: It’s great, It’s like you said, especially being a rookie coming in, there’s a lot of things on your plate. It helps having a lot of wins, but I think a lot of it has to do with the players inside of this locker room and the coaches who brought us all here. I think they did a tremendous job of getting the right people. I think that’s one of the reasons for our success; our locker room, and how close everybody is and how everybody works together. There’s a lot of credit that goes upstairs, too, but we put it together on the field. 

Roob: Well we appreciate a few minutes, Nate Gerry. And by the way, the Penn Relays, the biggest track meet in the world every April in Philadelphia, if you decide to run, if you wanna run the 100m, the 200m, the 4x200m or something, I can get you a spot in there.

Gerry: I’m going to have to save my hamstring after football season. I don’t know if I can get it to do that anymore.

Roob: Probably a good idea. Thanks for your time.