UNIVERSITY PARK (AP) - Penn State's seniors have earned a final celebration at Beaver Stadium, a time to honor their achievements and commitment to the university during the darkest days of the program's history.
Allen Robinson won't be among the 17 seniors feted before the Nittany Lions play Nebraska on Saturday.
But it's pretty much a sure bet that the standout junior wide receiver also will play his final home this weekend. Robinson has put up numbers that rival the best in Penn State history and worked his way toward the top of the record book in just about every major receiving category. He also has two catches this season for the highlight reel - an outstretched leap in the corner that sent him crashing down a yard from the goal line in the tying drive against Michigan, and a one foot in bounds snare against Illinois - that had Penn State fans cheering and NFL scouts drooling over his potential.
A semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Robinson holds Penn State single-season records with 81 catches and 1,204 yards receiving. He leads the Big Ten in receptions (8.1 per game) and yards receiving (120.4), both good for top 10 in the country.
Hard to believe he had only three catches for 29 yards as a freshman in 2011.
So just how NFL-ready is Robinson?
"I'm not going down that road," coach Bill O'Brien said. "We're very focused on Nebraska. That's not a road I'm going down. That's ridiculous."
Hardly. Robinson's play has merited the NFL talk, and he said he will wait until after the season to discuss his future. Penn State did not make Robinson available for interviews this week, likely because the NFL talk is just one more sidebar the Nittany Lions don't need as they chase their second straight winning season under O'Brien. O'Brien, who previously had been offensive coordinator at New England, knows he has a special player.
"You could tell right away that he was going to be a really, really explosive, good player," O'Brien said. "He's worked at it. Give him a lot of credit. He's been coached well. I think he's in a good system for what we do. But, give him a lot of credit. He's done a great job and gone up and made some fantastic plays for us over the last two years."
Robinson's future is a hot topic, but here are five other things to look at when Penn State (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) plays Nebraska (7-3, 4-2).
RECOVERING HUSKERS: Speculation about coach Bo Pelini's future peaked after a loss at Minnesota. But then the Huskers beat Northwestern on a Hail Mary and ended Michigan's 19-game home winning streak last week to give them an opportunity to take control of the Legends Division with a win over Michigan State. The Spartans went out and beat Nebraska 41-28 to end the Cornhuskers' division title hopes. In all, the Huskers committed five turnovers while seeing their hopes for a return to the Big Ten championship game end. "We're disappointed that we're out of the championship race but that's our standard and that always will be our standard," Pelini said. "That doesn't diminish our approach, and the next thing on the docket is Penn State."
SAY GOODBYE: Nebraska and Penn State played each other the first three seasons the Huskers were in the Big Ten. While the schools are in opposite divisions, they have been protected crossover opponents. With the Big Ten realigning its divisions for next season, it will no longer have protected crossover games. The next time the teams are scheduled to play is in 2017 at Penn State. The 2017 game is the only one scheduled between the schools between 2014 and 2019.
HOME SUCCESS: With a 3-0 record, Penn State is trying to finish undefeated at home in conference play for the fifth time. The Nittany Lions went 4-0 in Big Ten games in 1994, 1998, 2005 and 2008. Penn State won Big Ten titles in three of those four seasons. With a win, the scandal-scarred program would post a winning record for the second time under O'Brien. "Any time you can have a winning season, I think it's important to help you going into the offseason, and things like that."
HOT SEAT: Pelini could use a strong finish to strengthen his chance at a return. In six seasons at Nebraska, Pelini has had a run of lopsided losses on the national stage. His contract runs through the 2015 season. He's being paid $2.975 million this year. "We have a high amount of love and respect for coach Bo," linebacker Michael Rose said. "Any game we're going to go out there and play for Bo. It's not just these last few games, like we feel he's not going to be here next year. We have a high amount of love and respect for that man. He's put a lot of guys in a lot better situations than where they came from, been a father figure to some guys, been a mentor to a lot of us."
SENIOR DAY SUCCESS: The Nittany Lions are 20-3 in Senior Day games since 1990. The losses have come against No. 16 Michigan (1999), No. 11 Michigan State (2010) and Nebraska (2011).