Anyone who thought the 110,000 screaming fans inside Beaver Stadium's Whiteout would not have an affect on the matchup between Penn State and Notre Dame need only look to the first play of the game, which saw the Fighting Irish's Paul Duncan false start.
However, it was Notre Dame that put the first points on the board.
Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who made his first career start at Beaver Stadium, looked poised as he started off four-for-four with a combination of swing and screen passes for 33 yards to stifle the Penn State blitzing defense. However, his first incompletion came with third-and-eight on the Penn State 33-yard line. Nate Whittaker, making his first ever collegiate kick, missed a 50-yard field goal wide right.
The Nittany Lions did not help themselves when Austin Scott fumbled the ball in Penn State territory after a big gain. However, the Penn State defense forced a third-and-25 after a Josh Gaines sack of Clausen.
Penn State was forced to punt on its next possession but after a personal foul on Notre Dame's Travis Thomas who appeared to throw a cheap shot to the face of Penn State's Jerome Hayes once the punt was sent off, put Notre Dame back in its own territory. That penalty would prove to be costly for the Irish because Notre Dame went three and out and punted to Derrick Williams.
Williams made it count as he ran the ball back 78 yards for a touchdown, bring the score to 7-7.
SECOND QUARTER UPDATE
At the start of the second quarter, Penn State's defense seemed content to continue to allow the Jimmy Clausen led offense dink and dunk the ball down field, as the Nittany Lions prevented any big plays from the Irish. However, the story of the second quarter was that of field position, as Notre Dame found itself with four consecutive three-and-outs in its own territory.
On Notre Dame's first offensive possession, Aaron Maybin recorded his second sack of the season as he blew past Notre Dame left tackle Paul Duncan and took down Jimmy Clausen inside the Fighting Irish's 10 yard line.
After Penn State got the ball back inside Notre Dame territory and in the face of a blitz in the redzone, Anthony Morelli looked poised as he connected with Jordan Norwood to put the Nittany Lions ahead 14-7.
With less than a minute left in the half, Notre Dame got the ball back inside its own 15 yard line. On the ensuing snap, Penn State's Jerome Hayes sacked Clausen deeper into Irish territory.
Penn State got the ball back with 22-seconds left on the clock but on the first snap Morelli tucked the ball and fumbled the ball on the Penn State 49-yard line, giving the ball back to the Irish with nine seconds left on the clock.
However, Notre Dame was stifled by Penn State's defense and the score heading into the half was 14-7 in favor of Penn State.
THIRD QUARTER UPDATE
To start off the second half, Penn State capitalized on a 75 yard kickoff return by A.J. Wallace which ended with a 36-yard field goal by Kevin Kelly.
Not long after, Tom Zibokowski made an outstanding punt return to the Penn State seven yard line, which the Notre Dame offense converted into a field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, Penn State faced a third and long when Anthony Morelli connected with Chris Bell to reach the red zone. Penn State converted the field position with a one-yard touchdown run by Austin Scott.
The Penn State defense continued to remain stout as Dan Connor garnered a sack on Jimmy Clausen to end the third quarter.
FOURTH QUARTER UPDATE
With a lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Penn State offense remained conservative as Austin Scott grinded out a touchdown to put the Nittany Lions 31-10.
Despite the conservative offensive playcalling, the Nittany Lions' defense remained aggressive and pressured Jimmy Clausen throughout the fourth quarter.
The Nittany Lions sealed the game when Justin King intercepted a Jimmy Clausen pass when the Irish faced fourth-and-goal late in the fourth quarter.
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