Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Joe Paterno looked stunned after his Penn State team routed Nebraska 40-7.
“I thought we had a good chance to win this game,” Paterno said. “I didn’t think it would be like this.”
Not many people did.
After back-to-back losing seasons — the first in Paterno’s 52-year tenure with the Nittany Lions — Penn State (2-0) dismantled the Cornhuskers (3-1) Saturday night, picking off three passes from Jammal Lord and moving the ball almost at will in the second half.
The win moved Penn State back into the AP Top 25 at No. 15. Nebraska dropped from No. 8 to No. 18.
“Penn State offensively totally controlled the game, and defensively Penn State got stronger during the game,” Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. “They played with great emotion and I certainly wasn’t happy with our composure.”
It was quite a turnaround from the past two seasons for the Nittany Lions, who went 10-13 in that span. Penn State hadn’t had consecutive losing seasons since 1930-32.
After beating a Top Ten team for the first time since 1999, the Nittany Lions have their highest ranking since ending that season at No. 11.
“People were saying we couldn’t do this, we couldn’t do that,” running back Larry Johnson said. “Now we are back. We have that swagger back. We like to prove people wrong.”
After a home game against Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Penn State begins its Big Ten schedule the next week against Iowa.
Important conference games at No. 22 Wisconsin and No. 14 Michigan follow.
“We’ve been saying all week that this was a statement game, this was going to put Penn State back where it’s supposed to be,” quarterback Zack Mills said. “Hopefully, we’re on our way to doing that.”
Nebraska, meanwhile, must regroup. After a week off, the Cornhuskers have a difficult Big 12 opener at No. 21 Iowa State.
Nebraska will need a much steadier performance from Lord, who struggled mightily in his first road start. His three interceptions were the most for a Nebraska quarterback since 1990.
“I thought I played terrible and now it’s back to square one,” Lord said. “My kudos to Penn State. They had a great scheme, and it worked to perfection.”
Penn State’s game plan and execution approached perfection. In the first half, they opened up the field, with Mills completing 15 passes to five receivers, including five to Bryant Johnson.
“The plan was to use a lot of crossing routes against their man-to-man defense, and it worked,” Mills said. “We knew we were going to get BJ the ball in those situations.”
In the second half, Penn State went back to the run, getting a pair of touchdown runs on end-arounds from backup quarterback Michael Robinson.
Larry Johnson had 86 of his 123 rushing yards and one of his two touchdowns in the second half. His 2-yard sweep around the right was the game’s final score.
The Nittany Lions also contained Nebraska’s option attack, allowing only touchdown on Judd Davies’ 2-yard run in the second quarter. Lord’s 111 rushing yards were a personal best, but I-back Dahrran Diedrick had just 71 yards on 16 carries.
“We got whupped,” Diedrick said. “There’s not much good I can say about what we did.”

By Rick