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Northwestern-PSU wrapup...

November 6, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode

The headline:


Amazing comeback makes Paterno’s 400th extra special

It was over when:

+ Chaz Powell streaked in front of Northwestern receiver Mike Trumpy in the end zone, causing a drop on a desperation 4th-and-9 play for the Wildcats, who trailed by 14 with seven minutes left.

Play of the day:

+ Evan Royster and Silas Redd did most of the damage on the ground and will get most of the ink, but the game absolutely turned on Stephfon Green’s 21-yard run on a draw play on a 3rd-and-3 from the PSU 32 with :25 left in the first half. If Green doesn’t get the first down, Penn State punts. If he gets the first down with a modest gain, they maybe would have taken one shot down the field but just as likely might have taken a knee.

Hot topics:

+ There it was all wrapped up in one infuriating, thrilling 210-minute package: the state of Penn State football in the twilight of Joe Paterno’s career. In the first half, an overmatched defense, an unfocused offense and several questionable coaching decisions. In the second half, a dominant rushing game, a ball-hawking defense and a 400th win for a guy who looked like he wasn’t sure what hit him. Unforgettable.

+ The plan might have been to go to Matt McGloin in the second quarter regardless, but Rob Bolden’s shaky first quarter made that a no brainer. There is no doubt the speed of big-time football and the mental preparation and physical punishment involved in playing quarterback have taken a toll on Bolden, who has regressed each game. Bolden is not a confident football player right now and Penn State is not a confident football team when he’s under center. McGloin should be the Nittany Lions’ starter for the rest of the regular season. Bolden will be better served in the long run by a break from the stress of being the starter.

+ Have there ever been two better catches in one game than the grabs made by Drake Dunsmore for Northwestern and Brett Brackett for Penn State in the final minute of the first half? That’s a rhetorical question.

+ Overlooked amidst the amazing comeback is the fact that Penn State’s highly touted freshman punter, Anthony Fera, has been downright awful in several games.

Voices of reason:

+ We changed the title of this section this week because Matt Millen had a very good game and Steve Jones was in the zone on the radio.

+ Millen was at his best in quickly assessing Rob Bolden’s failure to account for a blitz that came from his “seeing” side, and then correcting Sean McDonough’s contention that Penn State missed a block on the play, noting Northwestern sent one more rusher than PSU had blockers (Evan Royster picked up a middle blitzer on the play).

+ Give Steve jones credit. The PSU broadcaster might be the only man in America who thought the Nittany Lions had a chance after Northwestern went up 21-0 late in the second quarter. Jones immediately postulated that if PSU could manage a score in the final minute, they could get back in the game by scoring on the first drive of the second half – and he even went so far as to say they could do it with the rushing game. Jones is an unabashed homer, but he’s also an astute football guy and he was dead on Saturday afternoon.

Zebra hunting:

+ Obviously, just a horrible unnecessary roughness call on Sean Stanley to set up Northwestern’s second touchdown. We can only assume the white hat thought he saw a helmet-to-helmet hit.

And now a word from our sponsors :

+ Kim Clijsters is the face of Citizens’ Signature watches? Wasn’t Yvonne Goolagong available?

Sweet tweets:

First half

@CoryGiger: Glen Rice hits a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Michigan 67-65 win over Marcus Liberty and Illinois.

@djm182: Has Mauti played organized football before this year?

@beerisgoodfood: Derek es moye sh*tty. (Blogger’s note: Sorry, that is too good to not drop our usual ban on scatological references.)

Second half

@97lion: This is how I remember Penn State football.

@christysmartin: Think I just saw Mrs. Persa in PSU alum section with a McGloin jersey on.


You can check out our Twitter observations here:

We were right:

+ We said we thought there was a little magic left in the Beaver Stadium air after the Michigan game and that proved prophetic. From a football point of view, we said PSU would have to run the ball effectively to win and, hoo boy, did they.

We were wrong:

+ We tweeted during the second quarter that we could punt better than Fera, based on our bronze Punt, Pass & Kick trophy from 1971, but that’s probably not exactly true.

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