LINCOLN — Welcome to the new normal at Nebraska — dig yourself a hole and spend the second half climbing out like a groundhog.
You gotta love Nebraska's flare for the dramatic, but NU is bound to fall off a cliff sooner or later while playing on the edge.
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini joked in the post game that the Big Ten should set a new rule, spotting NU opponents 14 points to start the game.
Hey, that makes some sense.
One year ago some of us in the media were calling for the cancellation of the game at Penn State. There seemed to be little reason at the time to play football in light of the tragedy.
Now Penn State is playing ball like its life depends on it.
After Nebraska's struggle against the Nittany Lions in Lincoln it may have been a good thing to somehow call this thing off on Saturday.
It felt like the right thing to do at halftime with Penn State building a 20-6 lead.
Then bam, Nebraska opens the second half with two touchdowns to tie and a bruising drive to end the third quarter. NU took its first lead of the game at 27-23 with 10:57 to play in the game, and held on for a 32-23 win.
Nebraska has set itself up nicely for a shot at a conference title.
When you think about all that has happened for the current players at Penn State — all of the doubts about the future — it's nothing short of amazing what Head Coach Bill O'Brien has done with the program in his first season.
In the big picture the two programs arguably are going in entirely opposite directions.
Nebraska continues to pursue past glories and Penn State still faces the wrath of NCAA sanctions that will essentially cripple recruiting efforts.
We saw a Penn State club that is physical, determined and rarely hurts itself. Its future will depend on the ability to recruit kids that love Penn State football and play like a family.
PSU has a real family thing going right now.
This was the Lions' conference championship game of sorts. For one half of football NU played like its mind was in another time zone.
In what was arguably the biggest game of the season for Nebraska, this team still couldn't get out of its own way.
The wins against Michigan, Michigan State and Northwestern were nice, but you get the sense by Nebraska's effort that this club really has been lucky. For some reason Nebraska lacks that killer instinct to put things away early. It nearly cost NU a chance at winning a big, big game.
NU continues to search for a certain level of maturity in its program. Right now it sells stock in never quitting. Maybe that's just the makeup of this team — it needs to be punched in the mouth to wake up.
I'd prefer Nebraska just set its alarm clock for the opening kickoff, thank you very much.
Heck, you don't see Kansas State committing dumb penalties -- stuff that just shouldn't happen. We saw it all against Penn State -- false starts, holding, personal fouls, and maybe the hardest thing to swallow — the inability to finish drives at times, including untimely fumbles.
How many times are we going to have to see Nebraska set new school records for come-from-behind victories? For some reason this team continues to play with a complete lack of focus at times.
Yet NU continues to tantalize with its dramatic play when you expect less. To consistently win conference titles and reach that next level on the national scene, Nebraska will have to show more early in ball games every Saturday.
Here we are in the middle of a season where the top two teams in the Leaders Division — Ohio State and Penn State — can go nowhere in the post season. Nebraska plays at home in two of the final three games without having to worry about how other games play out, yet this Husker team insists on making the road rocky.
It really did set up nicely for Nebraska.
This blackshirt defense supposedly feasts on passing quarterbacks, but it was Penn State's Matt McGloin who was allowed to stand in the pocket and make plays. It wasn't until the third quarter that the Nebraska defense got in his face.
Nebraska continues to be the best team in the fourth quarter. It's just that getting to the final 15 minutes is like watching the movie "Groundhog Day."
Different ball game, same story.