“It’s like a nightmare isn’t it? It just keeps getting worse and worse.”
This was trash talk over 9-Ball in The Color of Money, but for Husker fans it’s been as good a way as any to describe the 2017 season. The sun should begin rising on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (or at least mom should wake us up and tell us to clean the garage), but before that happens, we have to endure what will likely be another bad dream by hitting the road to face 8-2 Penn State.
To give us the opponent’s view of things, Aaron Yorke of Black Shoe Diaries was nice enough to answer a few of our questions about this Saturday’s
beatdown tilt. He told us where he thinks Saquon Barkley ranks among Penn State’s great I-backs, is concerned about the Husker passing attack and seems genuinely creeped out by L’il Red.
That last part, I certainly understand. On with the Q&A:
1) Do you think we will get Scott Frost? If we do how scared will you be? If we don’t, should we burn down stadium drive? (Ed. Note: You might notice that we’re focused on other things at the moment.
Aaron Yorke: Sorry to break it to you, Nebraska, but you're not getting Scott Frost. He's going to coach Oregon after Willie Taggart bolts for Florida. The Cornhuskers will get stuck with Craig Bohl, and no one is scared of Craig Bohl. If you burn anything down, it should be Lil' Red. That thing is unsettling.
2) Nebraska's defense allowed over 400 yards against a pedestrian Minnesota rush offense. You guys have Saquon Barkley. How many yards are enough? How many points are enough?
Aaron: Barkley is mighty talented, but lately Penn State has been unable to run the ball, even against Rutgers. I'm expecting another 40-yard effort from the junior, but I would be happy with 500 or so if that's what it takes to get him back in the Heisman conversation. Tanner Lee has been throwing it pretty well for Nebraska, so assuming he plays, I think it will take 30 points or so for the Lions to defeat Nebraska.
3) Is there anything about this Nebraska team that makes Penn State sleep 2 minutes less than the recommended 8 hours a night?
Aaron: Probably the passing attack, which lately has been less of an interception machine than it was earlier in the year. Penn State's defense was shredded by J.T. Barrett and Brian Lewerke in the team's two losses this season, and Lee is capable of putting on a similar performance.
4) Where does Saquon Barkley rank among Penn State greatest RBs? Is that ranking affected with chances to play for the conference and national title likely off the table?
Aaron: I have him seventh all-time. I don't think he measures up to legends like Larry Johnson, Ki-Jana Carter, and John Cappelletti. That ranking is affected more by Barkley's inability to consistently gain positive yardage than his presence in any championship games.
5) Can we make this an exhibition game where we do not keep score and instead raise money for orphans? You also have to tell the orphans no if you do not want to.
Aaron: Sure. It's not like the outcome is going to positively affect Penn State's Playoff ranking, so do whatever you want.
6) Whereas apathy has planted its tent stakes in Lincoln until the new coach is hired, moods have to be a little dark in Happy Valley where 3-4 weeks ago, dreams of a Big 10 title and the CFP were full speed ahead. With two weeks left in the regular season and McSorley and (likely) Barkley playing their last games, how does Penn St. hope the rest of the season plays out beyond just three straight wins?
Aaron: Penn State is hoping to establish its running game and get a little confidence going for the pass defense. If the team takes care of business against Nebraska and Maryland, it could be looking at a prestigious bowl berth in late December.
7) OK, prediction time. Let me take my cup off and bend over for this one – Penn St. vs. Nebraska – how does it play out and what’s your final score?
Aaron: Nebraska is able to move the ball through the air, but Penn State comes up with a couple of interceptions and punishes the Cornhuskers with deep strikes in the passing game. Lions win, 35-14.