NU: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the ugly from Penn State's victory over previously undefeated Northwestern.

Penn State beat previously undefeated Northwestern 39-28 at Beaver Stadium Saturday. And to see the final score, one would think it was an offensive shootout.

But that would not be giving proper credit to the Nittany Lion defense.

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Ted Roof’s group gave up a grand total of 247 yards to a Wildcat offense that rolled up more than 700 yards in a win over Indiana the previous week. Multi-purpose threat Kain Colter had five carries for 24 yards and three catches for 17 yards.

In the meantime, one NU score came after a muffed punt return gave the Wildcats a short field (17 yards), another came after an iffy pass interference call on the Lions and yet another came on a long punt return.

“For the most part, I was pleased,” PSU defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “You take a team that gains 700 yards last week and hold them to 247, so I was pleased with the improvement there. But (it is) still not good enough. We gotta get better.”

With that in mind, here is our game breakdown.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Did you sense some foreshadowing going on there? As well as several PSU offensive players performed, linebacker Gerald Hodges had 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and two pass breakups. He was a big reason Colter was held in check.

CLOSE SECOND: QB Matt McGloin is Mr. Cool. He completed 35 of 51 passes for 282 yards, two scores and no picks. He also rushed for what turned out to be the game-winning TD. It didn’t seem to matter if it was first down or fourth. McGloin was on his game in the second half.

CLOSE THIRD: TB Zach Zwinak came off the bench (again) to just pound an opposing defense. He carried 28 times for 121 yards and a score. More often than not, he was knocking NU defenders backward.

TURNING POINT: Down 28-25 in the fourth quarter, Penn State went for it on fourth-and-2 at the Northwestern 19. McGloin rolled right and — with the crowd imploring him to run — calmly hit Brandon Moseby-Felder for a 13-yard gain. McGloin put PSU ahead with a 5-yard touchdown scramble two plays later.

SOLID STRATEGY: Once again, PSU head coach Bill O’Brien and company used Zwinak’s power running and a hurry-up offense to break an opposing defense in the second half. Impressive stuff.

NUMBERS GAME: Penn State had 99 plays to NU’s 61 and controlled the clock for 39:17.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: LB Mike Mauti had nine tackles. Ho-hum.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: P Alex Butterworth’s first kick was downed at the Wildcats 1-yard line.


• The special teams’ errors by Penn State. Jesse Della Valle muffed a punt that led to an NU score. Butterworth outkicked his coverage (for the first time we can recall) and Wildcat Venric Mark took it 75 yards to the house. Those two plays helped account for half of Northwestern’s scoring.

• Penn State’s lack of big plays. The Lions did a great job of ball control. But they could not break anything long. The longest rush was a late 25-yarder by FB Michael Zordich and the longest reception a 19-yarder by TE Kyle Carter.

• Starting tailback Bill Belton. He still looks kind of rusty after missing time early in the season with an ankle injury.

• McGloin’s diving skills. His scramble for a TD included a half-dive, half-stumble into the end zone. Teammate Stephon Morris rated it a 2 on a scale from 1-10.

HIDDEN HERO: Moseby-Felder had five catches for 34 yards, including the big fourth-down grab.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: With everything else going on on offense, WR Allen Robinson had nine catches for 85 yards and two scores.


• O’Brien, while going on to the field to check an injured player, yelling at Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. A few seconds earlier, he was shouting at an official — which caused Fitzgerald to say something. After the game, O’Brien claimed he was yelling at himself. That got a laugh in the Media Room.

• DE Pete Massaro returned after missing the last three games due to knee and shoulder problems. He saw limited action but did break up a pass.

• OT Donovan Smith played with his right hand heavily wrapped.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: After an 0-2 start, did you think Penn State would be 4-2 going into this week’s bye?

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