MSU: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the ugly from Penn State's Senior Day loss to the Spartans. See what went down right here.

At least the ending was interesting.

In what can only be described as a lackluster performance, Penn State fell behind 10th-ranked Michigan State, 28-10, midway through the fourth quarter at Beaver Stadium Saturday.

Then Nittany Lion QB Matt McGloin began whipping the ball around like Tom Brady, receiver Derek Moye began catching (and stripping) everything in site and the PSU defense began … well … defending.

Penn State (7-5, 4-4) scored a pair of touchdowns in the game's final six minutes (but failed to convert the extra points) to draw within 28-22 before the Spartans (11-1, 7-1) fielded an onside kick to end it.

Here is what went down:

MAN OF THE HOUR: Moye was amazing in the final two minutes, with three catches for 46 yards, one touchdown and a forced fumble. He also made a circus catch for a score but was ruled just out of bounds. Moye finished the game with five grabs for 65 yards, and was really the only reason the Lions had any shot at the end.

CLOSE SECOND: Linebacker Nate Stupar had 10 tackles (five solo), one tackle for loss and a key forced fumble that kept Penn State alive late in the game.

CLOSE THIRD: Wideout Justin Brown had six catches for 106 yards.

TURNING POINT: Trailing 14-3 at the half, Penn State opened the third quarter by quickly moving to the MSU 41-yard line. On third-and-1, the Lions attempted an end around to receiver Devon Smith, who ran headlong into unblocked defensive end Colin Neely and was dropped for a 9-yard loss. Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno admitted the staff may have gotten “too cute” with the call. Ya think? Tailback Evan Royster averaged 6.1 yards per carry in the game. He might have been a slightly better option there.

SOLID STRATEGY: Unlike Penn State, Michigan State committed to the running game, pounding out 163 yards on 39 carries as Edwin Baker became the latest opponent to run all over the Lions (118 yards and a score).

NUMBERS GAME: PSU had 396 yards of total offense while MSU had 331. But the Spartans dominated time of possession, 34:03-25:57, including a ridiculous 10:12-4:48 edge in the final quarter.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Kirk Cousins (two) and Keith Nichol (one) both threw touchdown passes for MSU. Opponents have now thrown for 19 scores against the Lions this year. Last season, PSU allowed 10 TD passes.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Collin Wagner was good on his only field-goal attempt, from 34 yards, making him 19 of 24 on the season.


• Penn State going for two after Royster's 10-yard TD run cut the MSU lead to 28-16 with 5:51 showing. When the play did not work, it meant the Lions needed two touchdowns to win. Had they simply kicked the extra point, they would have trailed 28-17, and still have been able to tie with a field goal and a TD and two-point conversion.

• The goofy end-arounds to Smith. The sophomore now has 13 carries on the season for a net of 24 yards. He has been thrown for 19 yards in losses. By comparison, Royster, who had 188 carries, has been dropped for only 25 yards in losses.

• The Nittany Lions, the least-penalized team in the nation going in, being flagged eights times for 67 yards.

• DT Devon Still committing two personal fouls, one for roughing the passer and one for roughing the punter. The former was a bit questionable. But there was no doubt about the latter.

• OT Quinn Barham committing at least three penalties -- two false starts and a hold.

• Penn State's inability to stop the Spartans when they kept running to the short side of the field.

• The Lions' inability to pressure Cousins, even with blitzes. The sad-sack pass rush failed to register a single QB drop.

• Moye having more forced fumbles (two) than anyone on the Nittany Lion defense. Though he is only credited with one force on the official season stats, Moye also knocked a ball loose in the loss at Alabama earlier this season.

• The horrible turnout by the crowd, especially the student section. We get that PSU was still officially in Thanksgiving break. Though not sure that justified the student section being one-third full. What a bunch of turkeys.

Stephfon Green leaving the field with another injury, this one after teammate Silas Redd returned a kickoff in the third quarter. The oft-injured Green did not return. Doctors appeared to be looking at his ankle.

• Punter Alex Butterworth's low, liner kicks. Michigan State came close to a couple of blocks even though it never got especially close to him.

• Wagner's feeble attempt at an onside kick after PSU cut it to 28-22 late. We doubt it would have gone the required 10 yards, even if MSU had not fielded it (which it did to ice the game).

HIT SQUAD: Linebacker Bani Gbadyu seemed to be out of position but reached out and caught Baker from behind on the third quarter, dropping him for a 1-yard loss.

HIDDEN HERO: Receiver Graham Zug had a season-high five catches for 55 yards.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: After being all over the place through three quarters, Penn State QB Matt McGloin was 11 of 19 for 173 yards in the final period.


• Redd has replaced Chaz Powell on the kickoff return team. It did not help Saturday. The Lions had five returns for a total of 82 yards in the game, a poor 16.4-yard average.

• After missing most of the week of practice with an ankle injury, center Doug Klopacz got the start and played the entire game.

• Linebacker Mike Mauti, who has been hampered by a shoulder injury, saw limited action in the second half.

• Redshirt freshman linebacker Glenn Carson was used in 4-4 sets at different spots throughout the game.

• Rookie tight end Kevin Haplea had his first catch in five games, a 14-yarder. True tight ends have caught a grand total of five passes for the Lions this season.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: With Iowa's loss to Minnesota, does Penn State still have a shot at the Outback Bowl?

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