Penn State Falls to Nebraska, 17-14
The Penn State football team lost its first game under Tom Bradley’s tenure to Nebraska, 17-14. A packed house of 107,903 left disappointed from a game that meant more than just what happened on the field after the Jerry Sandusky scandal rocked the university.
After a touching tribute before the game, in which both Penn State and Nebraska huddled at midfield in prayer, the game started with Penn State on offense. Indicative of the first quarter, Penn State was forced to punt. There would be a total of 15 punts in the game.
“We had a week off,” Bradley said. “I was worried about getting off to a slow start.”
Neither team would get on the board until the second quarter, with Nebraska striking first. A 50-yard drive resulted in a 41-yard field goal from Brett Maher to put the Cornhuskers up, 3-0.
Nebraska extended its lead to 10 with just 44 seconds left in the half. A 12-play, 80-yard drive culminated in a Ameer Abdullah 2-yard touchdown run to put the Cornhuskers up 10-0.
At the half, the Nittany Lions had out-gained the Cornhuskers 176-167, but had no points to show for it. Matt McGloin finished the half on 7-17 passing for 88 yards.
The Cornhuskers took an insurmountable 17-point lead in the third quarter. Nebraska’s running game gave Penn State trouble, exemplified by Rex Burkhead’s 14-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing drive, Penn State got its first points of the game. McGloin marshaled a 9-play, 82-yard drive ending with a 5-yard touchdown from Stephfon Green.
Penn State attempted to make a comeback in the fourth quarter. After the Nittany Lions converted on a fourth down near midfield, they were successful on a trick play that was in no way reminiscent of former head coach Joe Paterno’s playbook. The ball was handed off, then was reversed to Curtis Drake. Drake then threw the ball to McGloin, who got his first-ever catch. Green ran for a touchdown on the next play to make it 17-14.
Penn State failed to convert on a fourth down, turning the ball back over to Nebraska. The Cornhuskers failed on a fourth down on the ensuing drive, giving the Nittany Lions one final chance with 49 seconds remaining. However, Penn State could not score and fell to 8-2 on the season and 5-1 in the Big Ten. Nebraska improved to 8-2 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten.
Throughout the game, Penn State had to adjust to new coaches and new places that coaches were in. Jay Paterno moved down to the field, and Larry Johnson and two other coaches took over some of the defensive duties. According to Bradley, these changes caused the team to be “just a little bit out of whack.”
Bradley also addressed the crowd and the Sandusky incident after the game.
“Our fans showed class and dignity,” he said. “It was a crowd in solidarity for the children and the victims.”