With the victory, PSU coach Joe Paterno improved to 23-10-1 all-time in bowl games. Here is our breakdown of the game.
MAN OF THE HOUR: Penn State senior running back Rodney Kinlaw carried 21 times for 143 yards, seriously outplaying Texas A&M's more hyped backs. He was named Offensive MVP of the game.
CLOSE SECOND: Nittany Lion linebacker Sean Lee had 14 tackles and broke up a pass. He was named Defensive MVP of the game.
PLAY OF THE GAME: The Aggies marched from their own 1-yard line to the PSU 1 in the fourth quarter, and threatened to tie the game at 24-24. But on fourth and goal from the 1, quarterback Stephen McGee went option right and slipped just before being creamed by Lion linebacker Bani Gbadyu. Gbadyu was in for one of the PSU cornerbacks in the team's Big Boy package.
CLOSE SECOND: With Penn State trailing 14-0 and the Aggies facing third and 1 at their own 29 early in the second quarter, A&M running back Mike Goodson took a screen pass and was thrown for a 5-yard loss by defensive tackle Phillip Taylor. TAMU was forced to punt, and PSU responded with a 6-play, 65-yard TD drive to get back in the game.
ANOTHER CLOSE SECOND: On the Aggies' possession after State's first score, Goodson fumbled when he was hit by end Maurice Evans, and corner A.J. Wallace recovered at the A&M 11-yard line. Which bring us to
SOLID STRATEGY: We're on record as HATING the formation where Penn State uses backup Daryll Clark at quarterback and moves starting QB Anthony Morelli to wideout. But it worked well in this game. Clark tied the contest 14-14 early in the second quarter on an 11-yard quarterback draw out of the formation, right after the aforementioned PSU fumble recovery. Clark carried six times for 50 yards.
NUMBERS GAME: The Lions outrushed the Aggies 270-164. It was State's highest rushing total of the year.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Penn State All-Big Ten punter Jeremy Boone was typically outstanding, averaging 51.4 yards on five boots. Which brings us to
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Wallace dropped A&M punt return man Roger Holland at the 1-yard line when the latter muffed a return in the fourth quarter.
WHAT'S UP WITH?
ESPN floating the idea that PSU offensive coordinator Galen Hall would retire after the game. Hall denied it afterward.
A&M running back Jorvorskie Lane? The big man looked horrible, averaging 3.4 yards on 10 carries. The Aggies didn't even look to him in goal-line situations. Difficult to understand all of the hype around him.
Lion kicker Kevin Kelly continuing to struggle on clutch field-goal attempts. PSU had momentum going its way early in the first quarter before Kelly flubbed a 41-yarder.
PSU not only going for it on fourth and 3 from the A&M 30 in the second quarter, but launching a bomb to wideout Deon Butler on the play. Butler made a diving catch in the end zone to draw PSU within 14-7. We're not saying it was a bad call. Just a little surprised it came from the Lion staff.
The Texas A&M yell stuff. They call it tradition. We call it goofy.
HEADS UP: PSU center A.Q. Shipley made his first career catch on a deflected pass shortly before the half. He gained four yards on the play. The Lions eventually got a field goal on the drive to lead 17-14 at the break.
HIDDEN HERO: In his final game, PSU senior QB Anthony Morelli got the job done when he needed to. He connected on 15 of 31 passes for 143 yards and converted several key third-down passes and the clutch fourth-down TD.
LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Penn State's offensive line played very well again.
Former A&M coach and Paterno enemy (they are now friends) Jackie Sherrill stopped by the Penn State locker room after the game and asked to meet Kinlaw.
Former Lion and longtime NFL offensive lineman Marco Rivera was on the PSU sideline.
Former PSU assistant coach Brian Norwood, who took a job as defensive coordinator earlier this month, was in the PSU section cheering on his son, Lion wideout Jordan. But the younger Norwood did not have catch in the game.
Scouts from six NFL teams were on hand: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Miami, New Orleans and Seattle.
UNANSWERED QUESTION: Can Penn State parlay this win into a strong off-season?