As the Nittany Lions were making their way off the field following the season-opener, fans began to go crazy. Seems on their way out, people were stopping to watch the TVs in the underbelly of the stadium, where the Big Ten Network had switched to Appalachian State's pending upset at Michigan.
Every time A-State did something positive, the PSU fans went nuts. And when the Wolverines ultimately lost, Beaver Stadium erupted more loudly than at any time during the blowout in Happy Valley.
By that time, PSU coach Joe Paterno was already meeting the press in the stadium media room. But not before getting an Appalachian State-Michigan update of his own.
It was one of the more surreal scenes ever at Beaver Stadium, and definitely a highlight of the day. But it wasn't the only highlight. Read on for our take on the action.
MAN OF THE HOUR: This is too easy. Penn State senior quarterback Anthony Morelli looked as poised as ever, finishing 23 of 38 for 295 yards, all career highs. His three TD passes tied a career high.
TURNING POINT: Can we say the opening kick? If not, we'll go with Morelli's early 4-yard TD flip to fellow captain Terrell Golden.
SOLID STRATEGY: FIU played more zone defense than Penn State expected but did not blitz much, especially early. Combined with frequent line stunts, the Panthers were basically daring the Lions to throw. Penn State did just that, generating 313 passing yards. Morelli had 231 in the first half, a school record.
NUMBERS GAME: Penn State had 549 total yards. FIU had 114.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Speaking of which, Lion standout linebackers Sean Lee and Dan Connor had 7 and 5 tackles, respectively, and both had a sack. They set the tempo for a strong defensive effort. Also, corner Justin King easily broke up both passes thrown at him. Another day at the office for all three.
WHAT'S UP WITH: Fifth-year senior tailback Austin Scott and Rodney Kinlaw both looking sluggish early? We know FIU stacked the line, but neither back appeared to have much zip in their step in the first half and both missed chances to bounce outside for long gains.
HIT SQUAD: Great group effort by State's coverage teams, who spent the entire afternoon demolishing the Panther return men. Backup linebacker Navorro Bowman was particularly nasty.
TOUGH GUY: Norwood once again showed heart when, after the aforementioned play, he hauled in a deep pass down the middle.
HIDDEN HERO: Redshirt freshman punter Jeremy Boone was outstanding in his debut, averaging 47.4 yards on five boots.
THE EXTRA MILE: Kudos to PSU QB coach Jay Paterno for getting the passing game going two days after his wife gave birth to their fifth child (a girl who was born Thursday). Mom and daughter were still in the hospital on game day.
LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Derrick Williams looked quick on punt returns, with 55 yards on five attempts.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Penn State's generally inexperienced defensive line destroyed FIU's offensive front. Way too much speed and power for the Panthers. Imagine if this group were not missing Abe Koroma (broken foot) and Devon Still (torn ACL). Tom McEowen, rounding back into form following an off-season ACL tear, was held out or precautionary reasons, as well.
DID YOU NOTICE?
FIU rushed for minus-3 yards thanks in part to seven PSU sacks.
No true freshmen played for the Nittany Lions.
Though redshirt frosh Lou Eliades was listed as the starting left guard, veteran Rich Ohrnberger got the nod. Likewise, redshirt freshman Aaron Maybin was listed as a starting defensive end but sophomore Maurice Evans got the nod. FOS reported both variations from the official PSU depth chart earlier this week.
Attendance was listed at 107,678 and did not appear to be inflated.
Comcast — in the middle of a heated PR battle with the Big Ten Network — rented booth space in the new festival area outside the stadium. Surprising Penn State allowed that to happen.
UNANSWERED QUESTION: Will the 0-1 Golden Domers of Notre Dame be tougher than the now 0-1 Golden Panthers of FIU?