Penn State, Nebraska aiming for first wins
Penn State and Nebraska are storied programs with more than 1,700 wins combined. None of those victories are this season, however, and both teams will look to start reversing their slow starts Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
Penn State (0-3, 0-3 Big Ten) has opened a season with three straight losses for the first time since 2001, when it dropped its first four games, and hasn’t experienced a losing season since going 4-7 in 2004. The Nittany Lions opened this season with a 36-35 overtime loss at Indiana on Oct. 24, suffered a 13-point home loss to Ohio State, and then absorbed a 35-19 home defeat to Maryland on Saturday.
“It’s very apparent what type of football team we are,” Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford said. “We are an 0-3, underperforming football team.”
Clifford completed 27 of 57 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions, against Maryland. He has thrown for 859 yards and nine touchdowns this season, to go along with five interceptions and a 56.6 completion percentage. He and could wind up splitting time with backup Will Levis, a redshirt sophomore who has yet to throw a pass.
“Will’s earned that, you know, over his time here and obviously, we’ve used him in the past,” Penn State coach James Franklin said Tuesday. “So we need to do that, and I think you’ll see that, I think you’ll see that moving forward, not just this week but for the rest of the season.”
Nebraska (0-2, 0-2) has just 30 points in its two games, against Ohio State and Northwestern, and is tied with Illinois for the worst scoring offense in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers rushed for 224 yards, totaled 442 yards and gained 28 first downs but suffered a 21-13 loss at Northwestern on Saturday.
“It’s inexcusable we only had 13 points in that game,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said.
Quarterbacks Adrian Martinez and Luke McCaffrey split time, and it is possible that could happen again. Martinez completed 12-of-27 passes for 125 yards while gaining 102 yards on the ground, and McCaffrey was 12-for-16 for 93 yards.
“You could make an argument that you’d like to have a clear-cut (No.) 1,” Nebraska offensive coordinator Matt Lubick said. “But you can also make the argument that you’d like to have two good quarterbacks that are ready to play.”
Nebraska leads the all-time series 9-8 and won the first three meetings as a Big Ten team before a 56-44 loss in 2017.
–Field Level Media