MAN OF THE HOUR: Who else but Deon Butler, who smoked the Wildcats for a Penn State single-game record 216 receiving yards on 11 catches? Amazingly, Butler did not find the end zone on the day.
TURNING POINT: QB Anthony Morelli hit Butler with a 49-yard bomb late in the second quarter that moved the ball to the Northwestern 13-yard line. Butler landed on the ball and it knocked the wind from him. Penn State scored six plays later, taking a 16-7 lead and knocking the wind from the Wildcats.
GOOD STRATEGY: It was good to see the return of the deep passing game after it had been mothballed for Youngstown State and Ohio State. Penn State has the horses at receiver. Let 'em run.
NUMBERS GAME: Butler had 112 receiving yards on the season coming into this game and had not caught more than two balls in a game.
SURPRISE, SURPRISE: Attention: We have had a tight end sighting at Penn State. Freshman Andrew Quarless started this game and caught a pair of passes for 31 yards.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Hats off to Kevin Kelly, the sophomore kicker who rebounded from a tough game at Ohio State to make four of four field goals and three of three extra points. After the game, Kelly said he has a stress fracture in his lower back that will only heal with rest. He is hoping for a bye week this week.
WHAT'S UP WITH?: An onside kick by PSU midway through the second quarter? Northwestern recovered at its own 49, getting its best field possession of the game to that point. The curious call temporarily shifted the field-position battle to NU. Though State forced a punt on that possession, Morelli was then intercepted, setting up a short-field TD drive by the Wildcats. Penn State continues to be too cute for its own good in certain situations. It cost the defense a shutout in this one.
HIT SQUAD: Safety Donnie Johnson, an unsung hero for this team all season, flattened Wildcat receiver Rasheed Ward in the second quarter. The play happened on the first snap after the Lions tried the onside kick that failed. On the next play, linebacker Paul Posluszny smashed into running back Terrell Jordan, dropping him for a five-yard loss.
HEADS-UP: Linebacker Sean Lee did an incredible job of tapping both feet inbounds on his third-quarter interception. He was ruled in by the officials, and a video challenge of his pick resulted in the call on the field being confirmed.
STYLE POINTS: Defensive tackle Jay Alford did a somersault into the end zone after returning a fumble for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. While the dive was kind of graceful, it also cost the Lions 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, and that hurt even more when a video review reversed the call and ruled there was no fumble on the play. Alford received the requisite talking-too from PSU head coach Joe Paterno and defensive coordinator Tom Bradley.
HIDDEN HERO: DT Ed Johnson did another great job in the trenches. Though he made just two stops, to a man the starting linebackers credited him with making their lives easier.
LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Posluszny is looking more and more like his old self every week. Against Northwestern, he had a team-high 10 tackles, one of them in the backfield (see above) and broke up a pass.
DID YOU NOTICE?
Senior captain Levi Brown, State's starting left tackle, dressed but did not play due to a minor knee sprain. Chris Auletta made his first career start in place of Brown and generally played well. Brown should be back in action for Penn State's next game, whenever it may be.
Defensive end Jim Shaw did not dress for the Northwestern game. Shaw had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last week and expects to miss about a month of action. Josh Gaines got the nod in place of Shaw but made only one tackle. Look for more of freshman Jared Odrick in this spot as the season progresses.
True freshman defensive tackle Tom McEowen came out of his redshirt in the second half. He was not credited with any tackles.
Penn State unveiled new lettering on the face of the east suites, with the words THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY and a list of the Nittany Lions' best seasons (1984, 1909, 1911, 1912, 1920, 1921, 1947, 1968, 1969, 1973, 1982, 1986, 1994, 2005). Penn State Nittany Lions and Beaver Stadium were added to the face of the press box.
Walk-on Joe Hughes took over the kickoff duties for Penn State. Paterno said it was because Hughes is a good directional kicker, and that the Lions were looking to angle the ball toward the right corner. NU averaged less than 16 yards per kickoff return. Talented return man Sherrick McManis, who came into the game averaging nearly 28 yards per return, was limited to 95 on six attempts.
UNANSWERED QUESTION: Will next weekend's game at Minnesota be played? Or will it be pushed to Nov. 25 due to a possible Metrodome conflict with MLB's Twins? Stay tuned. Which brings up another question: How can a Big Ten team possibly be in such a predicament with its facilities?