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VIDEO: Nebraska Week Player Q&As

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - talks with seniors Ty Howle and Malcolm Willis leading up to the Nebraska game.

Ty Howle

Malcolm Willis

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Bill O'Brien Press Conference Roundup - Nebraska Week

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Bill O'Brien Transcript - Nov. 19

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Bill O'Brien previewed Saturday's Senior Day showdown against Nebraska on Tuesday afternoon in the Beaver Stadium media room.

Senior Day is always an emotional afternoon for the players being honored, but it's a special week for the group leading up to its final home game.  O'Brien talked about what the senior class has meant to the program on Tuesday afternoon.

9472587.jpeg"You know, the biggest thing to me is that they understand the word team work and working together," said O'Brien.  "They embrace the younger players.  You think about it ten years from now when you look back on the last two senior classes, they'll be an important part of Penn State football history.  They'll be a part of it that however you guys define the history of Penn State football over the last two years, I would say these two senior classes would be a big part of it."

Penn State will honor 17 seniors prior to kickoff.  All of the seniors elected to stay with the program when they didn't have to.  And that's a big reason why they are such a close-knit group.

"They continued to work hard in the weight room and on the practice field and do it with intensity," O'Brien said.  "I thought that was a big part of it.  They continued to embrace their roles.  As long as you were clear with what their role was and defined it for them, they embraced that role.  They continued to develop the relationship with the coaching staff.  I think that's a big part of it."

The younger players on the team and the coaching staff are both putting a lot of emphasis on preparation this week to help send the seniors out in the manner they deserve.

"We're putting everything we can into practice and making sure that we do as good a job as we can to help these seniors go out on a winning note," O'Brien said.  "We know it's a very, very tough opponent.  Nebraska's a very, very good team, and it's going to be a big challenge."

The Cornhuskers are led by the top running back in the Big Ten.  Ameer Abdullah enters the game averaging 133.6 yards per game.  O'Brien noted on Tuesday that Abdullah is the type of player the defense needs to be aware of wherever he lines up on every play.

"Even since Martinez has been out he's become even more of a focal point for him," O'Brien said.  "He's a really good player.  One of the best players in this conference, explosive guy.  He runs with a great lean.  He's got great quickness.  I think he's obviously got a pro career ahead of him."

The Cornhuskers have won two of their last three games, including wins over Northwestern and Michigan.  O'Brien said that the Nebraska defense is an athletic unit capable of making big plays.  He labeled Nebraska's coverage scheme as a very challenging unit to play against.

"They have tall, rangy guys, physical guys at every position," O'Brien said.  "They run well, they're explosive players.  They've played well.  In my opinion, recently they've played really well."

Kick is slated for 3:30 p.m. on BTN inside Beaver Stadium for Senior Day against Nebraska.

Press Conference Notes:
- Injury Update - Coach O'Brien said that there are no major injuries heading into the Nebraska game, aside from the normal bumps and bruises.  Running backs coach Charles London will be in a boot for four to six weeks after breaking his foot while out for a jog on Monday morning.

- Coach O'Brien's remarks on Glenn Carson's contributions to the team:
"Yeah, he's just been a big part of our program.  He's an emotional leader.  He's done a great job of talking to this team during the year.  He's played hard, he's brought passion to the practice field, passion to the game field.  He's a guy that you're going to miss.  Just like you said the same thing about Mauti last year.  Glenn Carson just loves the game."

- O'Brien on Matt McGloin's performance for the Raiders on Sunday
"I thought he played a heck of a game.  That's not an easy defense to go against, Houston Texans, Wade Phillips, he's an excellent coach.  Been in the NFL for a long time, J.J. Watt, some of the guys they have on that side of the ball.  So I thought he played well, the team played well, they ran the ball well, and they were balanced. He completed passes.  He threw the ball accurately, played with poise.  Can't say enough about him.  He's a smart guy.  Smart guys that work hard that have talent, they really thrive in that league.  They really do.  I think that he'll thrive in that league."

- O'Brien on the condition of the Beaver Stadium sod:
"This game field is a fantastic field.  I mean, it's deep rooted.  It doesn't tear up.  It's got great drainage.  It's basically a dry field, which is big.  The grass is cut to the right length.  I just think they do a phenomenal job.  It's the best I've seen.  It's one of the things that Penn State is known for is turf grass management."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Monday Notebook: Seniors to Play Final Home Game

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Nittany Lions return to the practice field on Monday afternoon, it kicks off a special week for the 16 seniors who are set to play their final game in Beaver Stadium on Saturday.

9468521.jpegWhile it is an important week for the senior class, the Nittany Lion underclassmen are focused on sending the group out in a proper manner in their final home game.  And that starts with a good week on the practice field.

"As younger guys, we need to make sure that we send the seniors out in the proper manner," junior Allen Robinson said.  "It's important for us to rally around them and have a little extra focus this week to send the seniors out on a good note."

The seniors stuck with the Penn State football program when they didn't have to, and it speaks volumes about the character of the group.

"They mean a lot to me," freshman Christian Hackenberg.  "Nebraska is Senior Day, and it will mean a lot to those guys.  We really have high expectations for what we are going to do to get ready this week (for the seniors)."

Four of the 16 seniors are offensive linemen.

"It's just a group of really great guys," junior Miles Dieffenbach said.  "We really want to play well for them.  All of our seniors are great.  As an offensive line, we want to do our job."

Penn State and Nebraska are slated for a 3:30 p.m. kick on BTN.

- Robinson Remains in Nation's Top Five; Nittany Lions in the Stat Rankings
Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Allen Robinson is ranked No. 3 in the NCAA in receiving yards per game at 120.4.  Additionally, Robinson is No. 4 nationally in receiving yards at 1,206.  He is No. 9 in receptions per game at 8.1.  The Michigan native broke his own Penn State record by reaching 81 receptions for the 2013 season.  He is leading the Big Ten in receptions per game, receiving yardage per game and receiving yards.  Freshman Christian Hackenberg is third in the Big Ten in passing at 239.9 yards per game.  Sophomore Jordan Lucas is ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten in passes defended with 14.  Junior running back Zach Zwinak is ranked 15th in the nation with 12 rushing touchdowns in 2013. 

- McGloin Throws Three TDs in First NFL Start
Rookie quarterback Matt McGloin tossed three touchdown passes in his first career NFL start on Sunday afternoon, helping the Raiders knock off the Texans, 28-23, in Houston.  The undrafted rookie free agent finished 18-for-32 for 197 with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.  McGloin's journey to the NFL is a remarkable one.  The Scranton native went from zero scholarship offers to an opportunity to start on a Sunday afternoon.

- Nebraska Results

Following a 41-28 setback to Michigan State on Saturday, Nebraska enters the week 11 matchup against the Nittany Lions with a 7-3 overall record.  The Huskers are 4-2 in the Big Ten with victories over Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern and Michigan.  In addition to the setback to then-No. 14 Michigan State, Nebraska suffered a 34-23 loss at Minnesota.  The Huskers went 3-1 in the non-conference slate, beating Wyoming, Southern Miss and South Dakota State.  Nebraska fell against then-No. 16 UCLA.

Redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong is leading the Nebraska offense in the absence of veteran signal-caller Taylor Martinez, who is out with a foot injury.  Armstrong, who has appeared in seven games, has thrown for 802 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.  Ameer Abdullah is the Big Ten's leading rusher.  He has rushed for 1,336 yards (133.6 ypg) and scored seven touchdowns.  Abdullah is No. 6 in the NCAA in rushing.  As a unit, Nebraska's rushing offense ranks No. 3 in the Big Ten at 240.3 yards per game.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Complementary Football Fuels Lions in Purdue Victory

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since the day he arrived on the Penn State campus, head coach Bill O'Brien has stressed the importance of each unit on the field feeding off one another.

9464895.jpegWhen the defense does its job, it lends to better scoring chances for the offense.  When the offense scores points, it gives the defense more breathing room on the scoreboard and more rest on the sideline.

It's no surprise that when a team plays good complementary football it usually walks off the field a winner.  Saturday's 45-21 victory over Purdue was a fitting example of why O'Brien preaches the importance of playing consistent complementary football to the Nittany Lions.

Penn State marched 75 yards in 5:49 on the game's opening drive against the Boilers before Bill Belton visited the end zone for a score.  With a 7-0 lead, the Nittany Lion defense stepped onto the field and limited Purdue to just nine yards before a three-and-out and a punt.

The Nittany Lion offense got the ball at its own 34 on the ensuing possession.  Zach Zwinak plunged into the end zone 10 plays later and the Lions led 14-0 on the scoreboard.

"When the defense makes a play, we have to make sure that we come back and convert for them," sophomore tight end Kyle Carter said.

The Penn State defense forced three turnovers on Saturday, beginning with sophomore Jordan Lucas's third interception in Big Ten play on the first possession of the second quarter.  The turnover handed Christian Hackenberg and the Penn State offense the ball at the Purdue 33-yard line, and six plays later Zwinak was in the end zone for the second time.

"When they make a play, it gets us jacked up and we are ready to go," said guard Miles Dieffenbach.  "They gave us great field position, and we were ready to capitalize and turn it in to points."

The defense created three turnovers on Saturday.  How did the offense respond?  Penn State scored a season-high 21 points off of the three turnovers.

"It was big.  The defensive guys created some turnovers and we turned the turnovers into points," O'Brien said.  "The defense complemented itself, too.  When they gave up a touchdown drive, they came right back and got a three-and-out."

Creating turnovers is a big point of emphasis every week for the Nittany Lion defense, but it was talked about throughout the days leading up to Saturday's win over Purdue.  Penn State made plays on the football, and it created terrific scoring chances.

"It's really important for the offense to take what (our) defense gives us," junior wide receiver Allen Robinson said.  "That's one thing we really wanted to do after the Minnesota game.  The defense gave us some short fields, but we weren't able to capitalize.  In this game, we played efficient and took advantages of our chances."

The Nittany Lions now shift focus to Senior Day in Beaver Stadium against Nebraska.  Kick is slated for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage from Big Ten Network.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Inside the Locker Room - vs. Purdue

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head into the locker room following Penn State's 45-21 victory over Purdue to hear from several Nittany Lions.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Postgame Interview vs. Purdue

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Bill O'Brien talks with following Saturday's 45-21 overtime victory over Purdue in Beaver Stadium.

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GAME BLOG: Penn State vs. Purdue

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on from Penn State's Leaders Division clash against Purdue inside Beaver Stadium.

Check back here throughout gameday for the all-new interactive blog coverage for 2013.


PHOTO BLOG: Penn State vs. Purdue

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to's Photo Blog from Penn State's Leaders Division contest against Purdue.  Stay tuned for updated images from behind the scenes and during the game.


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Purdue Gameday Preview - Lions Host Boilers on Military Appreciation Day

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Gameday Central | Game Notes | Purdue Scouting Report | Press Conference Roundup

VIDEO: Player Q&As with Jordan Lucas & Eric Shrive

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State returns home to face Purdue on Military Appreciation Day Saturday at noon (TV-BTN) in the first of two-straight games in Beaver Stadium to close out the home slate for 2013.

9451977.jpegThe Nittany Lions (5-4, 2-3) are 6-1 in games following a loss under head coach Bill O'Brien, with the only consecutive losses coming in the first two weeks of the 2012 season.  Purdue (1-8, 0-5) enters the game on a seven-game slide following last week's 38-14 setback against Iowa.  Penn State is 12-3-1 on-field against Purdue, including a 34-9 victory over the Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium last season.

Junior wide receiver Allen Robinson became the Penn State season record holder for receiving yards last week with seven receptions for 63 yards against Minnesota.  Robinson enters the final three games with 1,106 yards (Bobby Engram had 1,084 yards in 1995).  Robinson ranks third in the NCAA in receiving yards per game (122.9), fourth in receiving yards and ninth in receptions (73).

Saturday's game against Purdue will feature the only two true freshman starting quarterbacks in the Big Ten.  Christian Hackenberg enters the game ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing.  Hackenberg and Purdue starter Danny Etling, who has started the last four games for the Boilers, were roommates at the Elite 11 quarterback camp in 2012.

Penn State will honor those who serve our nation during Military Appreciation Day.  The list of activities includes a tailgate for the more than 2,000 service members and their families attending the game as part of the "Seats For Soldiers" ticket program, as well as the individuals and business who donated tickets to the service members.

Adam Hartswick, a U.S. Army senior combat medic, who was seriously injured in Afghanistan earlier this year, will participate in the coin toss prior to the game.  Hartswick lost both legs in an explosion in May.  He is a Pine Grove Mills native and a 2009 graduate of State College High School.  Members of the ROTC elite, active duty, Wounded Warriors and veterans will be honored for their service during halftime.

Welcome to the Gameday Preview for Penn State's Military Appreciation Day clash against Purdue.

Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
1. Coach O'Brien said this week that it is a luxury for an offense to have two talented running backs like Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak.  The Nittany Lion duo has combined for 1,291 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013.  Belton has rushed for 92.4 yards per game in Penn State's Big Ten contests.  Zwinak, who rushed for 1,000 yards in 2012, notched a season-high 150 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota last week.  With the season reaching the 10th game, having two dynamic running backs with fresh legs is a big boost for the Nittany Lion offense.  Purdue's opponents have averaged 223.6 rushing yards per game this season.  Keep an eye on the offensive line's run-blocking, which continues to improve with each passing week.  The Lions have rushed for at least 120 yards in each of the last three games.

9200580.jpeg2. After making adjustments at halftime, the Nittany Lion defense pitched a shutout on the road at Minnesota last week.  O'Brien noted during his weekly press conference that Penn State's defensive unit will look to build on a strong second half against the Boilermakers.  Without the services of Ben Kline, who tore a pectoral muscle against Minnesota, Glenn Carson, Mike Hull, Nyeem Wartman and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong will handle the linebacking duties.  Keep an eye on senior defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, who is fifth in the Big Ten in tackles for loss with 10.5 on the season.

3. Simply put, O'Brien does not want to see anymore turnovers on the offensive side of the ball.  Penn State fumbled on its first offensive play and its last offensive play at Minnesota last week.  The head coach of the Nittany Lions expects to see a crisp performance from the offense on Saturday.  Penn State is seeking its first turnover-free performance of the season.  On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions want to get back to playing consistent complementary football.  Whether it is forcing turnovers, three-and-outs or consistent stops to set the Lion offense up with good scoring chances, Penn State is at its best when it plays complementary football.

What to Watch For - Purdue
1. True freshman Danny Etling made his first career start on Oct. 12 against Nebraska after appearing in Purdue's setback to Northern Illinois on Sept. 28.  Etling has thrown for 819 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions on the season while completing just under percent of his passes.  Junior Akeem Hunt has been a consistent playmaker for the Boilermakers on offense and special teams.  Hunt leads Purdue in rushing (325 yards), receiving (313 yards) and kickoff returning (443 yards).  Hunt has scored three total touchdowns, including one kickoff return.

2. The Boilermakers are a young football team.  Under the direction of first-year head coach Darrel Hazell, Purdue's offense features five freshman starters, including two true freshmen.  In all, 19 freshmen played against Iowa last week.  With the youth on the roster seeing prominent playing time, Purdue has struggled to string together offensive drives during Big Ten play.  The young Boilermakers are averaging just 6.2 points per game in Big Ten play.

3. Purdue leads the Big Ten in punting at 41.0 net yards per punt.  The Boilermakers' opponents have averaged just 1.4 yards per return on 40 punts this season.  Senior punter Cody Webster, who hails from Harrisburg, Pa., has averaged 43.9 yards per punt in 2013.  A preseason Ray Guy Award watch list honoree, Webster has 20 punts downed inside the 20 this season and 14 fair catches.

The Final Word:
The Nittany Lions have eight more quarters of football in front of the Penn State faithful at Beaver Stadium.  The focus in the final three weeks of the season is to send the senior class out in the proper manner.  That begins with a Leaders Division clash against the Boilermakers on Saturday.  Following a very good week of practice, O'Brien and the Nittany Lions are eager to get back on the field for the 10th game of 2013.  Limiting mistakes on both sides of the ball are key for the Nittany Lions.  Forecasts are calling for a superb November afternoon in Beaver Stadium with temperatures in the mid-50s. 

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2013 Opponent Preview - Purdue

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Each week, will preview the upcoming opponent on the Penn State schedule.  Here is a week 10 glance at the Purdue Boilermakers.

9448119.jpegHead Coach Darrell Hazell is in his first year as the leader of the Boilermakers.  Hazell went to Purdue after two years at Kent State.  Hazell has a career mark of 17-18. 

Purdue will look to end a seven-game losing streak and is seeking its first Big Ten win.  Last Saturday, Purdue fell 38-14 to Iowa. 

The Boilermakers tied the game up at 7-7 in the second quarter on a touchdown pass from Danny Etling to Kurt Freytag.  However, Iowa then rattled off 31 unanswered points.  Purdue got a late touchdown on a 44-yard pass from Austin Appleby to Danny Anthrop.  Etling completed 15-of-28 passes on the day for 145 yards.  Appleby connected on 5-of-6 throws for 68 yards.  Running back Brandon Cottom led the running game with 28 yards on 12 carries.  Fellow back Akeem Hunt led the team with 63 yards receiving on seven catches.

Purdue managed just 266 yards of total offense against the Hawkeyes, but allowed 509 yards, including 318 on the ground.  Linebacker Collin Link led the defense with seven tackles, all solo, a TFL and a sack.  Link also forced a fumble.  Defensive tackle Ra'Zahn Howard recorded a sack.

The Boilermakers rank 12th in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 11.8 points per game. Since entering Big Ten play, Purdue has averaged 6.2 points per game.  Purdue is 120th among FBS schools in scoring offense.  They also rank 12th in the conference in total yards (259.1 per game) and rushing yards (68.1 per game).  The Boilermakers rank 120th in the FBS in total offense and 122nd in rushing offense.  Purdue averages 191.0 per game in the air, which ranks 10th in the Big Ten. 

Etling, a true freshman, has started the past five games, completing just 48.1 percent of his passes for 819 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions. 

The junior, Hunt, leads the rushing attack with 325 yards on 93 carries (3.5 yards per carry).  Dalyn Dawkins and Cottom also see playing time in the backfield.

Hunt also leads the team in receiving, with 33 catches for 313 yards and two scores.  Junior tight end Justin Sinz has 25 catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns.  Freshman DeAngelo Yancey has 338 yards on 17 catches (19.9 yards per catch) and a score. 

Purdue's defense allows 37.2 points per game, ranking 11th in the Big Ten and 109th in the FBS.  They are 10th in the Big Ten in total defense, giving up 438.4 yards per game.  The Boilermakers allow 223.6 yards per game on the ground, coming in 11th in the Big Ten and 111th among FBS teams.  Purdue has a solid pass defense, ranking fourth in the Big Ten, giving up 214.9 yards per game.  The Boilermakers have forced 12 turnovers, including eight interceptions.

Safety Anthony Brown leads the team with 51 tackles (41 solo).  He also has two TFL and three pass breakups.  Cornerback Ricardo Allen leads the defense with three interceptions.  The senior also has 35 tackles, four TFL and a sack.  Allen is on the watch list for the Jim Thorpe and Bednarik Awards. 

Defensive tackle Bruce Gaston anchors the defensive line.  He leads the defense with six TFL and three sacks.

Hunt is a dangerous return man, averaging 26.1 yards per return.  He returned a kick 99 yards for a touchdown against Indiana State.

Punter Cody Webster is a Ray Guy Award candidate, leading the Big Ten with an average of 44.6 yards per punt.  The Harrisburg, Pa. native has nearly 40 percent of his punts inside the 20-yard line.

Penn State leads the all-time series 12-3-1 on the field.  The Nittany Lions won last year's matchup, 34-9 at Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium.    

Contributions on the 2013 Opponent Previews provided by Student Writer Paul Marboe.