Know Your Foe, Week 12: Nebraska Cornhuskers

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Cornstars would likely still be in the hunt for the Legends division title were it not for an untimely injury to a senior star.

This Season: 7-3 (4-2)

The Huskers are already bowl eligible with seven wins, though like Penn State, none have come against a team ranked higher than 50th in the Sagarin ratings (Michigan is 50th). Fucking Bo fucking Pelini has been the subject of some fiur talk, but a Hail Mary victory over Northwestern coupled with the win over the Wolverines without senior star QB Taylor Martinez has quieted some of the critics. Martinez is sidelined for the rest of the season with a severe case of turf toe, so the combination of freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr and senior Ron Kellogg III has been under center for the past three weeks in Lincoln. They're all but out of the running for the Legends division title with a Husker-conquering Michigan St. sitting at the top of the table, two games ahead in the loss column with two to play.

Offense

The QB-by-committee approach has been nowhere near as effective as when Martinez was the sole signal caller. Armstrong Jr and Kellogg have combined for 200.4 yards per game, 9 TDs and 8 INTs in five games. Martinez wasn't throwing for as many yards (166.8 ypg), but his TD:INT ratio (10:2) combined with his ability on the ground made Nebraska's offense much more potent. They currently ranks 89th in the country through the air, but that's okay because they have Ameer Abdullah in the backfield. The junior has only missed the century mark in rushing yards in one game this season en route to over 1,500 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns. The offensive line should also provide a test for Penn State's front seven - Jeremiah Sirles, (who should play Saturday, despite knee concerns), Brent Qvale, and Spencer Long are all draftable players.

On the flanks, Kenny Bell has seen a massive dip in production compared to 2012, which one can quickly and rightly assume is due to the uncertainty at quarterback. He's still one of the most talented WRs in the B1G, but until the QB situation is improved then last week's seven-catch, 81-yard performance against Sparty might well be the best game he has in his junior season. Quincy Enunwa has actually been the top receiver for the Huskers - his 543 yards and eight receiving  TDs are both team-highs.

Defense

The Blackshirts have been receiving some criticism throughout the Pelini years. The current defense doesn't quite live up to those standards, but they're still a solid unit nonetheless. The Husker D is much more comfortable facing the pass than the run, as they give up around 212 ypg through the air, good for 33rd in the nation. Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak should have some running room against a front seven that has struggled against teams not named Michigan or Purdue; the Huskers have allowed an average of 219.8 yards on the ground in their games against Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern and Michigan State.

Special Teams

Kicker Pat Smith has missed one field goal this season, and punter Sam Fultz has a leg with which to punt the ball - his long is 64 yards on the year. Nebraska hasn't done much in the return game, aside from a 63-yarder from Bell.

Last Game (41-28 L at Michigan State)

Nebraska actually put up some points on that vicious Spartan defense. Armstrong Jr and Kellogg III combined for one of their best outings of the year, going 17/32 in the air for 210 yards and 3 TDs. But any team would have a tough time winning a game against Michigan State having committed five turnovers as the Huskers did last Saturday.

Gambling Advice From an Idiot

I'm giving Kunkster the week off because this seems like an easy one: the Nittany Lions are favored by 1 to 2 points, depending on where you look, and I think Nebraska is a better team than Penn State right now. My pretend verdict: bet a buck or two on the Huskers and spend your winnings on that new pair of socks you've had your eye on. My real verdict: gambling is illegal because the government doesn't want you to lose your house on the outcome of a football game. Listen to your government.

Fun Fact

Corn should only be eaten on the cob after a few minutes on the grill. Any other method isn't worth the time it takes to husk the stuff.

Blog You Should Also Be Reading This Week

Corn Nation. Warning: there are not as many predictable puns on that site as you'd think or hope.


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