Report Card: Huskers 32, Penn State 23

Eric Francis

Same song, fourth verse. The Huskers play poorly in the first half and come back from a double-digit deficit to win late.

Same song, fourth verse. The Huskers play poorly in the first half and come back from a double-digit deficit to win late. If you are a glass half-empty person, you wonder why Nebraska can't play well in the first half. If you are a glass half-full person, you point out that this Nebraska team never gives up. Can you fix the errors to play better early? Or will Nebraska's good fortune in coming back in games come to an end?

If Nebraska do the former before the latter sets in, it'll be a great season for Nebraska football. But the distinction between 8-2 and 5-5 at this point is razor thin for Nebraska. Frankly, 8-2 is probably closer to being more accurate for this team than 5-5, but there's no denying that Nebraska keeps tempting fate with these poor first half performances.

QB: Taylor Martinez has had better games, to be sure. But he didn't have a bad game. No interceptions, though one puzzling fumble. (And probably a couple more that could have happened.) It was a tough day to throw the ball in that gale out of the southwest. But Martinez did have some good runs and consistently moved the chains with some smart scrambles that ended with just enough yardage. He even lowered his shoulder on one to pick up the necessary yardage. Grade: B-

RB: One of my takeaways on this game was how much Nebraska ran toss-sweep and stretch plays over and over. That's not lack of innovation in play calling; that's confidence in Ameer Abdullah and the offensive line. Just keep running a play until Penn State figures out how to stop it. Nebraska rushed for double (267) the average Penn State now gives up on the ground (134). Abdullah is simply a stud. Braylon Heard saw some early playing time with some impressive runs in the first half. Really wished he would have seen more second half playing time. Imani Cross was solid in some second half short-yardage situations. Grade: A-

WR: Kenny Bell was Johnny-on-the-spot catching that deflection of a pass intended for Quincy Enunwa. Jamal Turner had a couple of nifty catches, including the game winner. And Kyler Reed had another clutch catch for big yardage in the fourth quarter. And the downfield blocking looked good from my perspective on a day that wasn't conducive to the passing game.. Grade: B+

OL: Ameer Abdullah gets the numbers, but the line was grading the road ahead of him. A very good performance, except for a couple of bad false start penalties. Grade: B+

DL: Up front, I thought the line played pretty well for the most part. Daimion Stafford's interception is due in large measure to pressure generated up front. Baker Steinkuhler had his moments. Eric Martin had some good plays, but that face mask penalty could have been a disaster. (If he doesn't do that, no Penn State fans are complaining about the goal-line fumble call.) Grade: B+

LB: When the linebackers were in the right spots, they made plays. When Penn State went hurry up, they frequently weren't. Hello, Zach Zwinak running up the middle for 50 yards on the fourth play of the game. Will Compton had a big day, but the others were fairly quiet. Except, of course, for the forced fumbles by Alonzo Whaley (two) and David Santos (the controversial one). Grade: C-

Secondary: Ciante Evans left it all on the field, leading the Huskers with 10 tackles, and Daimion Stafford with the key turnovers of the game. But elsewhere, it was dropped coverage all over the field. Stanley Jean-Baptiste couldn't keep up with Allen Robinson, and Andrew Green wasn't any better. Justin Blatchford probably should have been called for pass interference on that fourth down pass in the closing minutes. Grade: C-

Overall: B- What do we keep saying each week? It's a win, but they could have played a lot better. Credit Penn State for much of it; Bill O'Brien has coached this team up. Once the Lions have served their penance for the sins of the previous administration, Penn State football could be really, really good in 2018.

Elsewhere in College Football

Texas A&M: A+ "Johnny Football" is now a legend. And after the ESPN Gameday preview, the next object of ESPN hype. (Does the name Tim Tebow mean anything to you?)

Florida: D- Needed a blocked punt on the last play of the game to defeat a directional Louisiana team???

Louisville: F OK, you weren't going to the BCS Title Game...but c'mon... Syracuse? Now really.

Indiana: 0 Nothing says "Time for basketball season" like not showing up for a football game with a division championship on the line.

CoLOLrado/LOLwa: F Haven't we seen this before?

Missouri: C Last week, it was the best defense in school history and non-existent offense. This week, the defense vaporized and the offense emerged from hiding.

Southern Miss: 0 The Golden Eagles fell to 0-10 in a 34-6 rout by SMU. The Eagles only managed 178 yards of offense and allowed SMU to rack up 435.

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