Everybody knows the controversy that is swirling around State College at the moment. The damage is done and the result is crippling to the future endeavors of Penn State University.
However, the reality of the situation is that there is still a football game to be played this weekend and a very important game at that.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers are coming to Happy Valley this weekend (Saturday ESPN 12 p.m.) with the intent of crushing the Nittany Lions Big Ten Championship hopes. The distractions are many and Joe Paterno will not be on the sidelines for the first time in 61 years.
Even with all the distractions in front of the Penn State football team the game will still be played and whether or not the Nittany Lions can overcome this terrible situation remains to be seen.
The first thing the Nittany Lions have to worry about is beating themselves. Typically in situations like this emotions are running high and teams tend to get very emotional at the beginning of a game.
When a team gets too emotional they can let that feeling get the best of them. It ultimately leads to mistakes and mistakes lead to turnovers. If the Nittany Lions want to beat the Huskers then they're going to have to win the turnover battle like they have been for most of the season. I know it's easier said than done, but the Nittany Lions have to try and holster their emotion to the point where it doesn't affect their main focus.
On to the subject of what the Nittany Lions main focus should be. Most would say that the main priority would be to stop heralded Huskers quarterback Taylor Martinez. Although stopping Martinez has to be a priority I believe the Penn State offense possesses the keys to the clubhouse in this one.
If the Nittany Lions want to head to Columbus next week with a 9-1 record then the offense needs to put some points on the board. The Huskers are not the Illini and 10 points will not get the job done this week.
It all starts with the quarterback, and interim Head Coach Tom Bradley said they haven't chosen a quarterback, but an educated person would think that Matt McGloin would get the nod.
McGloin hasn't had a terrific season (90-162-1193-7tds-3int), but it's obvious when he's in the game the Penn State offense moves down the field. McGloin doesn't have a rocket arm like Bolden (44-102-526-1td-4int) or half of Bolden's athleticism, but he just flat out plays the position better.
Bolden has shown zero progress as of late and is constantly holding on to the ball too long while in the pocket. He has also shown the inability to throw a touch pass off of play action or while setting up a screen play. Bolden needs to hash out those issues before he can expect to see any time on the field.
If the Penn State offensive coaching staff wants to win Saturday the game plan should be simple. Give the rock to Silas Redd. Redd (195-1025-7tds) has shown that even though he is only a sophomore he can put the offense on his back. Redd has time and time again been counted on to chew up yards for the Nittany Lions in key moments in the game.
Derek Moye should be pretty healthy coming into the match-up vs the Huskers and needs to make an impact. Moye is big and he is fast. The senior wideout has had an injury-ridden season, but has put up some decent numbers with the playing time he has had.
Moye has caught 30 balls for 524 yards and three scores. If Moye wants to elevate his draft status then a big-time performance against Nebraska would certainly do the trick.
It's no secret that Nebraska is a run-first offense and that plays right into the Nittany Lions hands. Penn State only gives up 111 yards per game on the ground. Inside penetration by Devon Still and Jordan Hill is key for the Nittany Lions. If Still and Hill can successfully attack the gaps of the Huskers offensive line then it should be a tough day for Taylor Martinez (134-712-9tds rush, 118-201-1545-10tds-7int) and running back Rex Burkhead (187-951-13tds).
The scene at Beaver Stadium is going to be different to say the least and hopefully the students and fans leave violence out of the ball game. The game itself is very important to both teams and should be a good game for all involved. Joe Paterno may not be there, but the Nittany players know that he will be watching. This could go down as one of the most important games in Penn State history and it would make it all the better if the Nittany Lions added a win to add a much needed twist to this horror story.