Penn State-Nebraska: And the Band Played on...

Penn State-Nebraska: And the Band Played on...

Our good friend Kevin McGuire of the Examiner.com joins us to share his thoughts on today's Penn State-Nebraska game. For more of our game day coverage—from bomb threats to tears to candlelight vigils featuring Lavar Arrington—click here.

Penn State has been through one of the worst weeks a university could imagine for the most part, but on Saturday there will be a four-hour window to attempt to escape from the off-field scandal that has taken the nation by storm.

On Saturday, football will be played in Beaver Stadium. As if Senior Day is not an emotional enough time already, the impact and fall out of the sex abuse scandal linked to the university and football program sheds a dark cloud over what has been largely the most anticipated game of the Penn State season, against Nebraska.

The two most recent additions to the Big Ten (Penn State in 1993 and Nebraska this season) are paired up in a guaranteed crossover rivalry series under the structure of the new Big Ten, and today opens a new chapter in program history for both schools. For Penn State, enter new head coach Tom Bradley.

For the first time since 1949 a Penn State game will be played where Joe Paterno is not on the coaching staff. Just let that sink in for a moment.

Bradley has assumed the interim head coaching responsibilities following the dismissal of long-time program icon Joe Paterno, who has been tied to the Jerry Sandusky investigation by the state. His job will not be easy, as no man wants to be the first to take over on the sideline following a legend, and true icon for not just Penn State but also for the sport of college football. But he seems determined to allow the seniors and captains on this team to take the lead. He has said this is their team, and he is there for them.

As far as the game is concerned, understanding it is far down on the list of priorities this week, there is a good amount of importance riding on the outcome. A win brings Penn State one step closer to the Big Ten championship game. Penn State controls their own fate in the Leaders Division race, needing to win two of their final three games to clinch a spot in the conference's first annual championship game. For Nebraska, a win will help them stay in the thick of the Legends Division race as the Cornhuskers attempt to keep pace with Michigan State, who Nebraska has already defeated.

Penn State's players appear to be focused heading in to this game. It has been two weeks since their last game, so you get the feeling that after everything that has gone on in State College, this defense is going to be ready to hit some players in the other color uniform. Nebraska is also coming in to this game with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, obviously for different reasons. Nebraska was upset last week at home by scrappy Dan Persa and Northwestern. The loss dropped Nebraska from the top ten in the rankings and the win is perhaps more important for them than it is for Penn State.

Penn State, emotionally, could be drained in this game, but the character on this team is pretty resilient. They have battled different kinds of adversity all season, from a prolonged quarterback flip-flop, to digging deep for tough wins against on the road and finding the strength to pick up some revenge wins this season against Iowa and Illinois. They have earned the spot they are currently in. Now it is time for them to capitalize on the opportunity.
Penn State is certainly not seen in the same light as they once were, but these players have absolutely nothing to do with it. They should not be punished for what happened off the field. This game is for them, first and foremost.

It should be quite a day, to say the least.

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

After being in the middle of trade rumors over the last few months, Nerlens Noel appears to frustrated with his situation with the Sixers, according to the Inquirer's Keith Pompey.

The Sixers have three starting-caliber centers — Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, who's now healthy — heading into this season.

"I think it's just silly," Noel told Pompey. "With the departure of [former general manager and president] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to set something done this summer.

"Don't get me wrong. We all get along great on the court and off the court. But at the end of the day, it's like having three starting quarterbacks. It doesn't make any sense.

"And it's just not going to work to anybody's advantage having that on the same team. That's how I'm looking at it. I'm not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated."

The Sixers flirted with having two big men on the court at the same time last season, with Noel and Okafor but with no real success. 

He has a point, and the team knows it.

During the summer, reports swirled saying the Sixers were looking to trade either Noel or Okafor for backcourt help.

Noel, who's in the final year of his rookie contract, doesn't appear to believe the current situation will work.

"I think something needs to happen," he said.

Darren Sproles 'amazing' 73-yard TD set tone for fun 2nd half vs. Steelers

Darren Sproles 'amazing' 73-yard TD set tone for fun 2nd half vs. Steelers

When Darren Sproles caught the nifty touch pass from Carson Wentz around midfield, there was little doubt about what would happen next.

"Touchdown," running back Kenjon Barner said after the Eagles' stunning 34-3 shellacking of the Steelers (see Instant Replay)
 
Really? With that many yards to go?

"Touchdown," he said. "As soon as he caught the ball. There was nobody there. That guy in the open field — you're not going to bring him down by yourself. With that much space — touchdown."

Barner wasn't the only one.

"Man, it's Sproles! Did you think he was going to get tackled?" receiver Nelson Agholor said incredulously. 

Uhh …

"Man, listen, it's Darren Sproles, and if you second-guessed him, then I don't know what you're thinking," he said. "I'm surprised if he gets tackled."

So is center Jason Kelce. 

"I was actually celebrating before he scored the touchdown, because I watched the whole thing unfold," Kelce said. "It was just a great play. [Wentz] scrambles out and then has the common sense to when the defender comes to him to dump it over top to Sproles, and that dude, once he gets the ball in space, it's incredibly special."

It sure was. 

First, Wentz stepped away from charging defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who had gotten away from Allen Barbre. 

“I came out and saw Sproles and he just turned up the field,” Wentz said. “Anytime that you can put it in [his hands], something special can happen on any play, and he did the rest of it.” 

Wentz did a little more than that (see story). After escaping the sack, he rushed to his right and made a right turn. Then he parallelled the line of scrimmage, drawing linebacker Ryan Shazier toward him — and allowing Sproles to get wide open.

Whoops.

"I thought he crossed the line of scrimmage, so I ran up," Shazier said. "It was my fault."

Sproles caught the pass, snaked his way the remaining 50 yards, spinning Steelers rookie safety Sean Davis around a couple times and watching rookie corner Artie Burns flail at him helplessly right before crossing the goal line.

"When they do that, it kind of gets everyone off their job when he extends the play like that," Davis said. "Me being a deep player, I just tried to buy us some time once I saw that we got broken down and let the defense rally up, and it's just a good play [by] him."

An amazing play. It was a 73-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the third quarter, a 3rd-and-8, and put the Eagles up 20-3 (see 10 observations). It was the second-longest catch of Sproles' career and longest since 2009 while with the Chargers (an 81-yarder vs. Baltimore). It was easily the longest TD of Wentz’s career and a main reason he was able to become only the second rookie in team history to reach 300 passing yards in a game (Nick Foles is the other).

“It was so much fun,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “Those are the kinds of plays you can’t design. It’s players making plays. … Sproles did his thing and wiggled down there, and it was fun to watch.”

That’s what Agholor should have done. Just watch.

"I was trying to chase him down and almost pulled my hamstring," Agholor said. 

"You see those moves he put on them? Pffft. And DGB (Dorial Green-Beckham) ran downfield — that downfield block. Think about that. We were having a lot of fun tonight man, and I'm very happy about that."

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