The Nittany Lions improved to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten with their third-straight victory. The Wildcats, who lost their first road game of the season, fell to 6-3 and 2-3.
Afterward, Penn State held an on-field ceremony honoring major college football's winningest coach.
Here is what went on to get to that point.
MAN OF THE HOUR: Who else but Paterno?
CLOSE THIRD: Linebacker Mike Mauti had 11 tackles, 10 of them solo stops. He keeps getting better and better by the week.
TURNING POINT: Down 21-0 late in the second quarter, Penn State took over possession at its own 9-yard line with 50 seconds left. McGloin led a nine-play drive that culminated in a 7-yard TD pass to Brett Brackett with three seconds left before the break. It cut the lead to 21-7 and the Lions had the ball coming out of the locker room in the second half.
SOLID STRATEGY: The staff used true freshman TB Silas Redd as the perfect complement to starter Evan Royster. The latter finished with 134 yards on 25 carries, the former with 131 yards and a TD on 11 carries.
NUMBERS GAME: PSU outgained NU 284 yards to 130 yards in the second half.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Penn State is now bowl eligible for the sixth straight year.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Anthony Fera averaged only 36.7 yards on his three punts. But two were downed inside the 20-yard line and none were returned.
WHAT'S UP WITH?
Penn State struggling against scrambling Wildcat quarterback Dan Persa in the first half. It is one thing to be burned by Denard Robinson. But Persa had 89 yards and two scores in the first 30 minutes. The Lion defense adjusted nicely on the second half, though.
All those penalties. Penn State entered the game as the least penalized team in the Big Ten. The Lions were flagged six times for 49 yards in this one.
o NU panicking and going away from the run when PSU tied the game 21-21 in the third quarter.
HIT SQUAD: Mauti was hammering people all over the place. He jacked up Persa on a third-and-6 on the Wildcats' second possession.
HIDDEN HERO: FB Joe Suhey had a career-high six catch for 67 yards as State's screen game really hurt Northwestern.
LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: A tip of the cap to Paterno's assistant coaches for keeping the team focused, even while trailing by three scores.
DID YOU NOTICE?
Redshirt sophomore Nate Cadogan, a tackle seeing emergency duty at tight end, caught a 3-yard TD pass in the third quarter.
Penn State started the game in a nickel defense, with corner D'Anton Lynn moving to nickel and Stephon Morris taking Lynn's spot at corner. Chaz Powell got the nod at the other corner. In straight formations, Powell and Lynn were the corners.
UNANSWERED QUESTION: With 400 out of the way, do the Lions have a shot at Ohio State next week?