We wondered it last week, and after the game, Bo Pelini came out and said he didn't think this game should have been played. But the game went on, and other than the broadcast, it doesn't appear there were any incidents. We'll still debate whether it was the right thing to do, but it's become clear that Penn State wants to do the right thing going forward. In just a few days this week, Penn State students and fans have contributed over $318,000 to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) in a campaign organized in part by Black Shoe Diaries. Watch for hash tag #ProudPSUforRAINN on Twitter.
Oh, and the game itself. In some respects, it was an afterthought. I thought Nebraska came out and played fairly well in a difficult situation. Not perfect, mind you. A blown coverage in the secondary led to Penn State's first touchdown and a seemingly blown officiating call led to the second. It's hard to say what the game would have been like if the horrific allegations hadn't blown up in the past week. But it's a win against another top 20 foe on the road; note that Husker critics don't bring that stat up anymore.
So here's our report card for the Huskers performance against Penn State. As always, your opinions are always welcome in the comments area.QB: The maturation of Taylor Martinez continues. His numbers didn't look as good as they should have, thanks to some drops and a glaring miss by the statistician. Martinez ran just enough to keep the defense honest...and the chains moving. And he's getting better on the option: that pitch to Rex Burkhead for a touchdown was a thing of beauty. Best of all, no turnovers. Grade: A-
RB: Rex Burkhead had an impressive game once the offensive line made enough of an adjustment to create a few creases. I'd love to get the younger backs more carries, but when they get carries, they have to produce: Grade: A-
WR: I still wonder how much Kyler Reed is hurt; he was pressed into service and came up with some fine catches, but he's not in the open field either. Kenny Bell still makes some freshman mistakes in making reads, but is becoming more and more reliable in the clutch. Here's my question though: if Jamal Turner is struggling with consistency in the offense, how about at least giving him a chance on kickoff returns. Grade: B
OL: Early on, I thought the offensive line struggled, but as the game went on, adjustments created some nice creases for Burkhead and Martinez. And more importantly, they kept Martinez clean. This was against a pretty stout defense as well, so kudos are in order. Grade: B+
DL: The defensive line didn't have a big game on the stat sheets, but they kept the Penn State running backs clogged up much of the day. And I'm giving Baker Steinkuhler credit for tipping that Penn State field goal attempt in the first quarter. In a three point victory...that was huge. Grade: A-
LB: Will Compton had another great game, with 13 tackles and helping to stymie the Penn State ground game. But I didn't think Lavonte David was having a very good game for the first 55 minutes of the game. Several times, he missed or failed to wrap up the ball carrier. But then, when the game was on the line, David came through with three straight stops: second and two, gain of 1. Third and one, no gain. Fourth and one, 2 feet...and Nebraska ball. Grade: A-
Secondary: Most of the day, the secondary played pretty well. But there was one glaring error. McGloin threw towards Derek Moye into double coverage. Problem is that Andrew Green forgot about safety help and got greedy. He didn't challenge Moye and thought he had a chance for an interception instead. Moye leaps for a 40 yard completion, and Green runs into Daimion Stafford. That turned the momentum of the game around, and resulted in Penn State's first touchdown of the day. Grade: B+
Overall: B+ Very solid performance under difficult circumstances.
Coaching: Bo Pelini has been razzed numerous times for being a hot-head and losing his composure in past years. This year, he's been better on the sideline, and better in the post-game press conferences. Except, of course, when he's being baited by a reporter trying to start something. But yesterday, Bo Pelini was "elegant and poignant" ...and received national recognition for standing up and saying some things are more important than football. Between Pelini and Ron Brown, Nebraska's coaching staff were champions of the day. Grade: A+++++++++++++
Elsewhere in College Football
Kansas: B+ Ohhh, Turner. Losing to Baylor by going for two in overtime is nothing to be ashamed of. Here's hoping the management in Lawrence feel the same way.
Missouri: A Mizery's bowl hopes needed that...even if Henry Josey had to be sacrificed.
Texas Tech: F How the heck did this team upset Oklahoma in Norman...
Iowa: D That's the Iowegia we've come to know. My only worry is whether the Squawks have another one of those "wins they shouldn't get" in their system this season.
Stanford: F "Suck for Luck" only applies to NFL teams. You can't keep him another season.
Boise State: F If I was Chris Peterson, I would have spent half of today evaluating recruiting tapes of high school kickers.