Sure, the Nittany Lions played their best all-around game of the year, and easily could have won 54-6 had they not emptied their bench for much of the final quarter. Sure, the passing game finally clicked, as PSU (3-1) completed its first four touchdown passes of the season. Sure, the special teams looked a lot more special, thanks to an all-around strong effort by Anthony Fera.
And sure, Joe Paterno was back on the sideline, if only for the first half.
Mauti, a linebacker, left the game in the first half with what doctors believed to be an ACL injury. His season appears to be over. Lynn, a cornerback, was involved in a nasty collision in the second half. He was carted from the field strapped to a backboard and taken to the hospital. Head coach Joe Paterno later indicated that Lynn was moving his extremities.
Obviously, they are two of our better players, Paterno said afterward. But hey, that's how it goes. I feel sorry for the kids. They both worked hard. It kind of takes a little bit off the win. But that's the way it goes.
You're talking about some pretty good players there, defensive coordinator Tom Bradley added.
Two of the Nittany Lions' best. But the team will have to survive for the rest of the season without at least one of them.
We'll provide updates as they become available. In the meantime, here's what went down in the win over EMU (2-2).
MAN OF THE HOUR: Matt McGloin came off the bench at quarterback for the fourth straight game and for the third time in those four outings outplayed starter Rob Bolden. McGloin was 14 for 17 for 220 yards and three scores. We'll admit that at the start of the season we thought Bolden was the long-term answer for the Lions. But he's been given every opportunity to hammer down the job and has not done so. Looks like it is time for McGloin get his crack as the starter. Pass the waffles, please.
CLOSE SECOND: Nate Stupar replaced the injured Mauti and came through with seven tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack. That's a senior stepping up.
CLOSE THIRD: We've been tough on junior wideout Devon Smith. But he showed his stuff in this game, exploding for a 71-yard score off a short crossing pattern. He had three catches for 104 yards and also popped right back up after being leveled on one incomplete pass.
TURNING POINT: Bolden led Penn State to a total of three points (and a 3-0 lead) on the team's first three drives. When McGloin took the field with 10:46 left in the first half, he led a five-play, 64-yard scoring drive on which he was 3 of 3 (including PSU's first TD pass of the season -- a 27-yarder to Joey Suhey).
SOLID STRATEGY: EMU stacked the box most of the day. Rather than beat their heads against the wall, and potentially hurt the confidence of the offensive linemen, the Lions had no problems taking to the air. All told, the PSU passing game was 25 of 35 for 364 yards and four scores.
NUMBERS GAME: Thirteen different Nittany Lions caught passes.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Defensive tackle Devon Still was a beast yet again. He had five stops, including 2.5 in the EMU backfield.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Fera was the first Lion to punt, kick off and handle placements in the same game since Chris Bahr in 1975. He definitely helped cure what was ailing the kicking game. He averaged 51.7 yards on three punts and made a 29-yard field goal attempt, the first try of his career.
WHAT'S UP WITH?
Paterno being on the sideline. He is still moving very gingerly following the preseason practice collision that sent him to the hospital and caused him to work the first three games from the press box. At least he had the common sense to head upstairs for the final two quarters of action. I felt great until about four or five minutes to go in the first half, he said. (Then) I could hardly move.
The O-line struggling to run block. We get that EMU was overloading the front. But this was the same team that gave up 376 rushing yards to Michigan last week.
The student section staying away in droves.
Penn State running the reverse. It seems to be good for negative yardage in every game. A little more on this later.
HIT SQUAD: Penn State safety Nick Sukay hit Eagle running back Javonti Greene so hard in the first quarter that his own helmet popped off.
HIDDEN HERO: Former Lion Gus Felder -- now a graduate assistant for the team's strength and conditioning program -- stayed a few feet behind Paterno on the sideline. The 400-pounder was clearly prepared to take a hit for the coach.
DID YOU NOTICE?
That wideout Curtis Drake was back in action -- again. He caught one pass for 17 yards and was thrown for a 2-yard loss on a reverse. Drake returned from a leg injury to play vs. Alabama but then did not make the trip to Temple.
That Penn State went away from the two-man punt-return scheme that had been enormously unsuccessful this season. It didn't help. Justin Brown was the lone deep man and had five yards on his only attempt.
That, thanks to Sukay's 14-yard bring-back of a pick, Penn State has more return yards on interceptions (119) than punts (111) this season.
That Evan Lewis, who had been the starting place-kicker, did not warm up as a kicker before the game. He was the backup holder. He spent most of the game sitting at the far end of the PSU bench with a dejected look on his face.
UNANSWERED QUESTION: How will the Nittany Lions cope now that one and possibly two of their best defensive players are out?