Offensive Fight: With the defense struggling, giving their second highest total of the year, the offense stepped in and tied their highest tally of the season with 34 points. Give credit to offensive line who paved the way for 199 yards on the ground and 192 yards through the air.
Sweet Silas: Speaking of rushing, Silas Redd had a career day with 164 yards on 18 carries, averaging an impressive 9.1 yards per carry. He also found the endzone for a score. He showed tremendous determination throughout the contest and deserves a lot of credit in this one. This was Redd's fourth consecutive 100+ game.
Hodge-ball: On the other side of the ball, linebacker Gerald Hodges had a banner day as well pinning 14 tackles and a key interception. Hodges really gave a spark to the defense when they needed it and showed that he's a blitzing weapon when used appropriately.
Late Show: OK, the defense clearly struggled against Northwestern's dual-QB setup, but they managed to dig in and shutout the Wildcats in the second half, limiting them to 125 yards in the last 30 minutes. So, when the chips were down they got the pressure on and grabbed a series of key sacks, seven in all. They certainly had some issues, though, but more on that later.
Make The Call: Most everyone's been asking for it and the coaching staff finally made a decision on the quarterback position (at least in this game) and went with Matt McGloin who went 17 for 26 for 192 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Pillow Soft: Northwestern's Dan Persa passed for 294 yards and frankly figured out the Penn State zone gaps. If not for some key late drops, this game could have been much different. PSU's soft coverage zone was certainly frustrating, but more so was the lack of adjustments in the coverage to address Persa running the same play repeatedly and finding consistent success with it.
Play It Again: The Lion offensive coaching staff's play-calling continues to be baffling. On third-and-two with the Cats showing they simply could not stop the PSU running attack, PSU calls a play-action pass that ends up losing 15 yards. That was just one illustration, you always have the four-yard route on third-and-ten.
Run It: Again, with PSU finding impressive success on the ground with Silas Redd and to a smaller degree Stephfon Green PSU opted to go to the air regularly as the game winded down, resulting in some quick three-and-outs for the Lion offense and stopping the clock regularly when time was becoming a critical factor.
Blunder Thunder: Special teams continued it's streak of having significant lapses on the field. This time it only took the first play for it to rear it's ugly head as Chaz Powell coughed up the ball on the opening return. This facilitated a quick Persa touchdown and some early momentum.
One Line Story: The unoriginality of college football announcers was upheld tonight; we get it, Joe Paterno was going for No. 408, he's up in the pres box, do we really need to see the same shot of him, Ron Vanderlinden and Galen Hall for what probably totaled 15 minutes of the game? I guess Dan Persa's parents were not in the stands tonight, so they were scraping for story lines.