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Greg Sharpe on Michigan State Loss, Penn State Match-up for Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska Cornhuskers
Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

Two stops left on the regular season schedule for the Nebraska football team, and the Cornhuskers are having to re-do their long term goals for the 2013 season, as they head into State College, Pennsylvania Saturday to battle Penn State.

Michigan State v Nebraska
LINCOLN, NE – NOVEMBER 16: Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. #4 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers picks up his fumble in front of defensive end Denzel Drone #42 of the Michigan State Spartans during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

Any hopes of playing for a Big Ten championship this season were fumbled away – literally and figuratively – against Michigan State last Saturday, as the Huskers turned the ball over five times – three in the first quarter, before falling to the Spartans 41-28.

As bad as that game looked on paper, the ‘Voice of the Cornhuskers’ Greg Sharpe told me he believes Nebraska outplayed Michigan State for the majority of that game:

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Michigan State v Nebraska
LINCOLN, NE – NOVEMBER 16: Running back Ameer Abdullah #8 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers runs through arms of defensive end Shilique Calhoun #89 of the Michigan State Spartans during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

Despite all of the turnovers, there were some positives for the Huskers offensively, especially with the running game, which gained 182 yards as a unit, with Ameer Abdullah picking up 100 of those.

It marked the first time this season an opposing team had cracked triple digits in rushing yards against the #1 defense in the Big Ten:

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Penn State - Beaver Stadium
STATE COLLEGE, PA – OCTOBER 12: Penn State Nittany Lions celebrate after a first half touchdown against the Michigan Wolverines during the game on October 12, 2013 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

In State College Saturday it will be a match-up of two teams with very different mindsets.

Penn State (6-4) can’t play in a bowl game again this season because of ongoing NCAA sanctions, so the Nittany Lion players are treating the next two weeks as bowl games, as they try to finish above .500 – a moral victory for a program many thought should be shut down two years ago.

Nebraska (7-3) meanwhile does have a bowl game in their future, but how good of a game the Huskers get depends on what they do at Penn State and November 29th against Iowa.  Also, Nebraska still has a chance of putting together a pretty impressive record:

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Penn State v Ohio State
COLUMBUS, OH – OCTOBER 26: Quarterback Christian Hackenberg #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks to pass against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

This game will feature a match-up of two rising stars in the Big Ten, freshman quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg of Penn State and Tommy Armstrong of Nebraska.

Both have dealt with their share of ups and downs this season, but Hackenberg has a little more experience, starting every game for the Lions this season, while Armstrong has six starts under his belt following the injury to Taylor Martinez:

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Navy v Penn State
STATE COLLEGE, PA – SEPTEMBER 15, 2012: Wide receiver Allen Robinson #8 of the Penn State Nittany Lions catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown in front of safety Chris Ferguson #23 of the Navy Midshipmen during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium on September 15, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Objective #1 for the Nebraska defense Saturday is trying to slow down Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson.

The junior catches about one out of every three completions for the Nittany Lions’ offense, accounting for nearly half of the team’s yards gained this season thru the air:

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Bo Pelini
(Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

No one on the Nebraska coaching staff or roster is talking about one of the other big story lines over the final few weeks of this season and that’s the status of head coach Bo Pelini, who’s rumored to be on the hot seat with Nebraska out of the Big Ten title picture.

But Greg says the players are well aware of the rumor mill surrounding their coach:

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Kickoff from State College is Saturday at 2:30pm.

You can listen to the game live on your home for Huskers football in the Sioux Empire, ESPN 99.1!

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