OVERALL: A terrific effort, especially by the seniors, on Senior Day. Very slight demerits for not completely blowing open this baby earlier. With that said, we never got the sense the Nittany Lions were in trouble. State is now one win removed from a BCS bowl, most likely the Fiesta or Orange. A loss in the finale at Michigan State two weeks from now will almost certainly mean the Capital One Bowl.
OFFENSE: Set a terrific tone on the game's first drive. And how about Hunt and Robinson pounding out 276 yards on the ground between them? But there was some spotty play with the passing game. Have to nitpick when a team is on this kind of run. Robinson's 363 yards of total offense gave him 2,687 for the season, breaking a school record Kerry Collins set in 1994 (2,660). Talk about great company.
DEFENSE: Holding any Wisconsin team to minus-11 yards rushing is incredible. But even defensive coordinator Tom Bradley admitted there were some lapses in the pass defense late. DE Tamba Hali was a monster, tying a school record with four sacks and setting a school standard with seven tackles for loss despite being held constantly. The Lions had nine sacks overall.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A tip of the cap to Calvin Lowry for finally busting a long punt return, and resisting the urge to thumb his nose at the press box while doing so. This whole snap-hold-kick thing has been an issue on field goals all year, though.
COACHING: When Joe Paterno, Bradley and Jay Paterno all make their way into the media room after the game, you know the staff had a great day. This was not as much about what PSU did during the game, but the great preparation that allowed the Lions to dominate what had been a one-loss team.
INTANGIBLES: Despite all the game-week hype about which of the 25 seniors would cry in the tunnel before the game, none did. They all had their game faces on and proved they were prepared to play by helping the team seize the game early. When asked about the rough-and-ready scene in the tunnel afterward, Robinson admitted, We were all crying inside.
OTHER GUYS: Leading into this one, you got the sense that crafty Badger coach Barry Alvarez fashioned his 8-1 record with smoke and mirrors. Turned out to be true. In his final year, the team just does not have great talent. But what a great run for a great coach. We still can't figure how a smart guy like Mark May definitively predicted a Wisconsin win in this one.
OFFICIALS: We may be harping here, but what qualifies as holding in the Big Ten?
CROWD: Not as loud as the crew for the Ohio State game, but that was understandable given that that affair was tight all the way through and this one was not. Anyone else think the police in riot gear and mounted police who hit the field after the game were a bit much? We know the old saying about an ounce of prevention, but this seemed like several tons of the stuff. The crowd of 109,865 was the second-largest in stadium history, trailing only the 110,753 on hand for Nebraska in 2002.
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