Tim Marlowe remembers the strange atmosphere at Beaver Stadium last Nov. 12 when Nebraska visited Penn State, a university that had been rocked by revelations that a former assistant coach had molested young boys, including one in the shower of the football building.
"Looking back on it now, it was pretty surreal knowing we played in a game the week of that incident," Marlowe, a senior wide receiver for the Cornhuskers, said Monday. "It was pretty crazy. It was kind of a weird environment.
"In a stadium with 110,000 fans, we were expecting a crazy, loud atmosphere, but it was kind of a weird vibe in the stadium. It was quiet for most of the game until Penn State scored that late touchdown in the second half. Then it really got going."
The game was played one week after the arrest of Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted in June of 45 counts of sexually abusing children. Hot debate reigned that entire week over whether the game should be played or canceled altogether.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini supported the latter proposal, saying that "the fact that young kids were hurt, and that's a crime in itself," was reason enough to cancel. But the Cornhuskers made the trip east and, in a show of support for victims of child abuse, had their players and coaches take the field with those from Penn State for a pregame prayer delivered by Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown.
Looking back on that game Monday during his weekly news conference in Lincoln, where he discussed this week's contest against the visiting Nittany Lions, Pelini recalled how affected he was for the entire week.
"That was a unique experience to be a part of," he said. "They had gone through a tragedy that was a lot bigger than a football game."
Marlowe, a childhood friend and high school teammate of Penn State fullback Michael Zordich, said he and his teammates "embraced the opportunity to play in such a special game."
On what was scheduled to be Senior Day, with Joe Paterno not on the sideline as an assistant or head coach for the first time since 1949, the Nittany Lions trailed by 17-0 early and rallied with two touchdowns but fell short, 17-14.
Penn State (6-3 overall, 4-1 Big Ten) will visit 18th-ranked Nebraska (7-2, 4-1) on Saturday for the first time since the Cornhuskers began Big Ten play in 2011. Pelini praised Lions coach Bill O'Brien's work in bringing the program back.
"He's done a phenomenal job with what he came into, the situation he walked into," Pelini said. "It shows the type of football coach he is, but it also shows the character of the guys in that program and how they stuck together."
Notes. Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who suffered a sprained left knee in the second quarter of Saturday's win over Purdue, is listed as day-to-day for Nebraska . . . The status of Nebraska's Rex Burkhead is unclear. An all-Big Ten running back, Burkhead has missed all or part of seven games with an injured left knee. Running back Ameer Abdullah has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his four starts. . . . Tailback Nick Scott, who just finished his junior season at Fairfax (Va.) High School, has received a scholarship offer from Penn State, according to reports in the Washington Post and several recruiting web sites. The 6-foot, 180-pound Scott, who rushed for 1,164 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, also has an offer from Boston College.