LINCOLN, Neb. -- Of all of the miserable memories Penn State players have from Nebraska week last year, one stands out the most to Mike Zordich.
‚??We lost,‚?Ě the senior fullback said simply.
That‚??s not to say last season‚??s 17-14 defeat to the Cornhuskers was the worst moment for the senior fullback and the Nittany Lions. But as they prepare to face Nebraska again today, it‚??s what‚??s on their minds now.
Focusing on the game last season was all but impossible just days after the Jerry Sandusky scandal exploded and Joe Paterno was fired. It won‚??t be easy this time around, either.
Aside from dealing with the anniversary of those events, players -- seniors especially -- are coming to terms with the end of their college careers. Today will be their final road game in a Penn State uniform.
‚??Yeah, I got a little emotional in practice (on Monday),‚?Ě senior cornerback Stephon Morris said. ‚??It‚??s not sad, it‚??s been great. But these last three games, my last away game in the blue and white... it‚??s breathtaking.
‚??I was just looking at the sky during practice and just watching these guys prepare. I really can‚??t believe this is my last away game, and these are my last three games as a Nittany Lion.‚?Ě
Fellow seniors Matt McGloin and Michael Mauti said they‚??ve tried as hard as possible not to start thinking about it.
I‚??m trying to not let that stuff get to me just yet,‚?Ě Mauti said. ‚??I‚??m sure in another week or so it‚??ll start creeping up.
The 16th-ranked Huskers, after all, demanded plenty of the Lions‚?? attention this week.
Nebraska, which leads the Big Ten‚??s Legends Division and is hoping to close in on a spot in the conference title game, boasts the country‚??s No. 6 rushing offense and the No. 5 pass defense.
And the Huskers also have Taylor Martinez. Only a junior, the quarterback has already set the all-time total offense record for the storied program at 8,166 yards from scrimmage.
He earned the distinction last week as he led the Huskers to a come-from-behind win at Michigan State, throwing the game-winning touchdown in the game‚??s final seconds. It was the third time this season he helped author a double-digit comeback victory.
Penn State has faced plenty of dual-threat quarterbacks this season -- Ohio State‚??s Braxton Miller ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions two weeks ago -- Martinez presents his own set of problems.
‚??Taylor Martinez has done an excellent job,‚?Ě Penn State coach Bill O‚??Brien said. ‚??He‚??s completing 65 percent of his passes. He‚??s an accurate guy. He can run. (He and Miller) both have great command of their offense and they‚??re coached very well. They know what they want to do, how they want to attack things.
‚??Obviously with both guys, it‚??s a huge challenge for any defense.‚?Ě
Morris said Martinez has more ‚??straight-line speed‚?Ě than any other quarterback they have faced this year, including Miller.
Needless to say, the Lions won‚??t have it as easy as they did in winning their first three Big Ten road games, pasting Illinois, Iowa and Purdue by a combined score of 107-30.
Not that McGloin and the offense isn‚??t going to try.
‚??It‚??s definitely exciting to put up big numbers,‚?Ě said the quarterback, who has thrown for 1,018 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception this season on the road. ‚??The best part of going on the road is winning big. There‚??s no better feeling than going on the road, (leading) early and completely taking a stadium out of the game.‚?Ě
That rarely happens to Nebraska‚??s ‚??Sea of Red‚?Ě at Memorial Stadium with a crowd that will top 80,000 -- possibly 60,000 more fans than Penn State played in front of last week at Purdue.
The Lions will battle that and their own memories as they try to score their biggest win of the season.
‚??(This past year), it forces you to ignore what people are saying about you and about the program and your team, Mauti said. ‚??‚??Ignore the noise‚?? is the most important lesson we‚??ve had to learn as a team.‚?Ě
Today will test just how well they‚??ve learned that.
3:30 p.m. today ABC