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Steven M. Sipple weighs in with his report card from the Huskers' game against Penn State.


Quarterback Luke McCaffrey, making his first college start, scooted for gains of 12 and 11 yards on Nebraska's opening drive and finished with 67 yards on 13 attempts. With Dedrick Mills limping on the sideline, Wan'Dale Robinson saw ample time at running back and looked comfortable, rushing for 60 yards on 16 carries. But the Huskers averaged only 3.7 yards per rush.


McCaffrey came out firing, going 4-for-5 for 45 yards on Nebraska's opening drive. On the Huskers' next possession, Kade Warner dropped what would've been a touchdown pass. But Nebraska struck in a big way early in the second quarter on Zavier Betts' 45-yard touchdown on a fly sweep. How about McCaffrey's left-handed toss to Marvin Scott late in the first half? Nice improvisation. But McCaffrey's only turnover — a fourth-quarter interception — was a big one. He finished 13-for-21 for 152 yards and a TD.




JoJo Domann made back-to-back stops late in the second quarter as Penn State threatened deep in Nebraska territory. He came up big again late in the third quarter with a key stop on a second-and-goal. Midway through the third quarter, Keyvone Lee roared through a big hole 31 yards for a TD to pull the visitors to 27-13 behind. Backup QB Will Levis, all 6-foot-3 and 222 pounds of him, hurt NU with runs and scrambles. PSU finished with 245 yards on 4.7 per carry.


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Standout tight end Pat Freiermuth somehow slipped behind everyone for a 74-yard gain that set up a touchdown that pulled Penn State to within 30-23. On the bright side for Nebraska, safety Marquel Dismuke had a big breakup on fourth-and-10 at NU's 11 late in the game. Also, NU's corners were excellent late in the game. Safety Deontai Williams made a huge play when he punched the ball out of quarterback Sean Clifford's hands, picked up the ball and rumbled into the end zone to give Nebraska a 24-3 lead early in the second quarter. In the first quarter, Clifford threw a horrible pass and Cam Taylor-Britt made him pay with an interception and a 55-yard return that eventually led to a Husker field goal.


Niko Cooper got Nebraska's sideline jumping with his big hit on a first-quarter kickoff return. William Przystup's second-quarter punt was downed at the PSU 9, and he boomed a 53-yarder late in the game when his team needed it badly. The Huskers' kickoff coverage was strong. Even the return game was clicking as Taylor-Britt returned a short punt 25 yards. He also returned a failed field-goal attempt 34 yards early in the second half. Loved the aggression. But Jahan Dotson's 21-yard return after a 47-yard Nebraska punt was a bit of a letdown.


Nebraska had a lineman jump offsides on its opening possession, but McCaffrey's 12-yard run on the next play made up for it. The Huskers finished with five penalties for 39 yards — not bad considering they had 17 in the first two games. 


Great call on the fly sweep to Betts. But the swing pass to Robinson late in the second quarter, which netted zero yards, was thoroughly unimaginative. We're experts on that play by now. Nebraska's offense struggled much of the day to find a rhythm.


As Scott Frost said afterward, it's always better to learn from a win. Man, his program needed this one.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.