Halloween got a little scary for the Penn State Nittany Lion football team. Northwestern came out playing like one-eyed, one horned flying purple Lion eaters, taking a 13-10 halftime lead into the lockerroom. But Penn State stormed back with a second half defense that did not yield a point, and three quick scores to pull the plug on purplepalooza before a crowd of 30,546, winning 34-13.
Northwestern fumbled on their first drive, but the Wildcat defense held off the Penn State offense as the Lions settled for a field goal. I think this set the tone for the first half, giving the home team some confidence.
The Mildcats responded with a methodical, 17 play, 65-yard drive for a tying field goal on their next possession. This drive summarized the whole Northwestern offense—slow and deliberate. Dink and dunk. Crawl across the field. Kafka came in as one of the best passers in the Big Ten, and who knows how this game might have turned out if he hadn’t gone down with a hamstring injury with 8:15 still to play in the first half.
Northwestern controlled the clock in the second quarter. Penn State managed to block a field goal (Odrick) but could not capitalize, going three and out on a series of incomplete/dropped passes. The Mildcats took over with good field position and finally posted 3 more points to take the halftime lead.
Penn State opened the second half with a 36 yard return by Powell to set up good field position. But the drive sputtered at the Wildcat 6 and Wagner tied the game at an unlucky 13 all. The game would remained tied until early in the fourth quarter when Penn State capped a 7 play, 58 yard drive with a punishing run by Beachum to put the Lions up 20-13. I thought Beachum had a great day, but he did drop an easy screen pass that forced a Penn State punt.
Following Beachum’s TD run, Halloween became Groundhog Day for the Mildcats. Northwestern would fumble two consecutive kick-offs, recovering both but ending up with poor field position. The PSU D holds and NW punts. Penn State would then take the next two possessions and score on one play drives, the first a beautiful 53 yard pass strike to Moye and the second a burst up the middle by Royster for 69 yards. Penn State scored on three consecutive offensive plays and put 21 points on the board in the matter of about three minutes or so.
Kevin Newsome got some playing time at the end of the game, and I’m not going to argue about whether he should have seen time sooner or not.
This was the classic trap game, sandwiched on the road between THEM and the Buckeyes. Things looked shaky for awhile, but the team put it together for a nice solid win.
BY THE NUMBERS:
|NET YARDS RUSHING||163||119|
|Average Per Rush||6.0||3.2|
|Yards Gained Rushing||175||156|
|Yards Lost Rushing||12||37|
|NET YARDS PASSING||274||252|
|Average Per Attempt||8.8||5.9|
|Average Per Completion||12.5||8.7|
|TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS||437||371|
|Total offense plays||58||80|
|Average Gain Per Play||7.5||4.6|
|Average Yards Per Punt||42.0||36.2|
|Net Yards Per Punt||29.6||36.2|
|Average Yards Per Kickoff||64.3||57.0|
|Net Yards Per Kickoff||45.7||36.2|
|Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD||0-0-0||2-22-0|
|Average Per Return||0.0||11.0|
|Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD||4-83-0||7-130-0|
|Average Per Return||20.8||18.6|
|Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD||0-0-0||0-0-0|
|Third-Down Conversions||3 of 10||7 of 19|
|Fourth-Down Conversions||0 of 0||1 of 2|
|Sacks By: Number-Yards||6-31||1-8|
Penn State uncharacteristically had problems w/ third down conversions. This of course becomes moot when you score twice on single play drives. Who needs third down? We also lost TOP for maybe the first time all season, due in large part to Northwestern’s early success in long, sustained drives, and our own one play drives. And while the purple paloozas ran 22 more offesnive plays than we did, they averaged 3 yards less per play and 21 few points.
JoePa notches win #391. STILL five ahead of Hot Bobby.
Penn State is now 10-3 versus Northwestern.
THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:
!*w@ managed yet again to remain unscathed, playing like sh!t for 3 quarters and benefiting heavily from the refereyes in one of the most horribly officiated games I have ever seen. At one point Stanzi had thrown like 5 INTs but then donned his Halloween costume—a Heisman winning QB mask—to lead the Hawks to the promised land. They beat the Hoosiers 42-24 but the game was much closer than the final score alludes. The Buckeyes rolled over New Mexico State 45-0. Wisconsin steamrolled Purdue 37-0. And Sparty returned to schizophrenic form, losing to the Gophers 42-34.
But the highlight of the conference was Illinois’ first win in the conference over THEM. They spanked the boys in piss yellow pants 38-14.
Ohio State @ Penn State
Wisconsin @ Indiana
Purdue @ THEM
Northwestern @ !*w@
Illinois @ Minnesota
Western Michigan @ Michigan State
1. For Indiana—horribly hosed by hankie throwers.
2. For the Demon Deacons, 28-27 losers to Miami.
3. For the Trojans—all quacked up in Oregon
4. For Va Tech—Tar-heeled on Thursday night football
Let’s see . . . who’s next on the schedule? Indiana. Nope. Not yet. It is a home game. Hmmm. What’s that smell? Bucknuts roasting on a tailgate fire?
Ohio State will invade Beaver Stadium next Saturday at 3:30. What appeared three months ago to be the match-up of the season for a Big Ten Title is now, barring a couple of losses by the Hawkeyes, a game to determine the runner-up in the conference. The loser has practically no chance of an outright title and likely no chance for a BCS bowl. And a Buckeye win might not get them into a BCS game either, unless they can also upset !*w@.
The Bucks are 7-2 with a close loss to USC and a lopsided loss to Purdue in the conference. In common opponents:
OSU beat Illinois 30-0. We won 35-17.
OSU beat Minnesota 38-7. We won 20-0.
And, as we will see later this week from the stats, the two teams are very similar, and both with highly rated defenses.
Ready for another slugfest? Who blinks first?