Penn State tasked with trying to slow down Nebraska back Abdullah
College Football Videos
There are numbers that would suggest Penn State is capable of limiting Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah from having one of his typical workmanlike performances.
Abdullah is the Big Ten's leader in carries and rushing yards. But the Nittany Lions have held nine of their 10 opponents to fewer rushing yards than Nebraska averages. Over a 23-game span dating to 2011, Penn State has allowed one opposing running back to match the 133.6 yards that Abdullah is averaging this season.
That said, don't bet against Abdullah. In fact, don't even make a prediction against him. ESPN analyst Desmond Howard found that out the hard way last week.
Howard, in advance of Nebraska's game against Michigan State this past Saturday, said Abdullah wouldn't gain as many yards as the 43 Spartans' opponents were averaging through 11 weeks.
After Abdullah had 123 yards (albeit in defeat to Michigan State), he said of Howard: “That's his job, to make predictions. And it's my job to shut him up.”
Abdullah has gained at least 98 rushing yards in each game this season. He rank seventh in the FBS with 1,336 and is a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top back.
“He's a heck of a player and somebody who's had a great career,” Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini said of the junior. “He has great change of direction, great vision, he's tough — and there's really nothing he can't do.”
At a school long known for a run-first offense, Abdullah ranks fifth in Nebraska history in 100-yard rushing games (15) and third in all-purpose yards (4,481). He's the eighth Cornhuskers player to have consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Abdullah is versatile (22 receptions in 2013), explosive (seven rushes of 30 yards or more) and consistent (can become the second Big Ten player in the past decade to have at least 100 rushing yards in all eight conference games).
“Even since (quarterback Taylor) Martinez has been out, he's become even more of a focal point for them,” Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said. “He's … one of the best players in this conference, an explosive guy who runs with a great lean and great quickness. I think he's, obviously, got a pro career ahead of him. We have to make sure we know where he is on every play.”
The Lions (6-4, 3-3) host the Cornhuskers (7-3, 4-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Abdullah has had milestone games in his meetings with Penn State. As a freshman in 2011, he had his first career rushing touchdown in a 17-14 win. The following year, he had a career-high 31 carries and 145 total yards in a 32-23 win in Lincoln, Neb.
“We're excited for the challenge,” Penn State leading tackler Glenn Carson said. “We've seen a lot of great things from him.”
Martinez, a four-year starter, has been limited to four games this season because of a foot injury. Abdullah is averaging 23.1 touches per game in games Martinez does not play.
“A player of his caliber, it's really hard to stop a player that's as explosive as he is,” Penn State safety Malcolm Willis said. “We just have to try to contain him and have to limit the things he can do and change the looks up. We have to make sure we're a very good tackling team come Saturday.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Clues to Chief Justice John Roberts’ thinking on new ObamaCare case
- Pirates enter Plan B with Martin off market
- Reflecting frustration, Webb eyes presidency
- Mears savors success, credits legendary Lange for guidance, inspiration
- 5 arrested on firearm, drug charges in Spring Hill
- Allegheny County adoption event joins 40 children with families
- For Steelers, a fight to finish for playoff berth
- Starkey: No explaining Steelers, AFC North
- Derry water outage may be resolved by 5 p.m. Sunday, authority says
- Shooting victims live with bullets to survive, thrive
- Allegheny County buck could prove to be state’s largest ever taken