Once a walk-on at Penn State, quarterback Matt McGloin has played like anything but a walk-on so far in 2012.
Behind its senior quarterbacks and his 321 yards and two touchdowns, Penn State (6-3, 4-1 Big Ten) upended the Purdue (3-5, 0-5 Big Ten) 34-9 in West Lafayette on Saturday.
Coach Bill O’Brien’s Nittany Lions were all business following a disappointing performance last week at home to Ohio State where the Lions shot themselves in the foot en route to defeat. This time around, the Lions would leave no doubt about it. After rushing for just 32 yards as a team last week, Penn State racked up more than 180 yards -including 134 from Zack Zwinak-on the ground.
Thanks to Penn State’s rushing attack, the offense had enough balance to keep the Purdue defense honest and open up plays for McGloin and the passing game. The result produced a pair of Michael Zordich touchdowns in addition to open receivers, like Brandon Moseby-Felder, in the worn down Purdue secondary as the game went on. Moseby-Felder, who had just 19 catches coming into the game, posted a career-high six catches for 129 yards and a touchdown.
After allowing their first opponent score on the season-a 21 yard Sam McCartney field goal-in the first quarter, Penn State rallied off 34 unanswered points before a Caleb Terbush touchdown pass as time expired. After a Sam Ficken 27-yard field goal with 6:03 left in the first quarter got things started, senior Michael Zordich plunged in from six yards out to put the Lions up 10-3 at the end of the first quarter. Following another field goal, Zordich visited pay dirt again, this time from five yards out to give the Lions a commanding 20-3 lead at halftime.
That was more than enough for Penn State’s second-ranked Big Ten defense to get the job done, even without standout defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who left with a knee injury. Led again by seniors Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, the Lions held the Boilermakers to 87 yards on the ground and forced them to beat them through the air in the second half, something the Boilermakers weren’t capable of going into the game. In the end, Purdue quarterback’s, Caleb Terbush and Robert Marve, threw 62 times for 288 yards and one touchdown. Despite the yardage, the Lions held the Boilermakers to just 4.6 yards per attempt and were able to keep Purdue out of the endzone.
Benefitting from its early lead, the Penn State defense was able to take away Purdue senior tailback Akeem Shavers and focus on playing coverage in the secondary. Penn State’s offense spotted the defense a lead all day and racked up more than 500 yards of offense. Coming into the game, the Purdue defense ranked near the bottom of the conference in both total yards and rushing yards allowed per game.
Despite the offense output, for the second-straight week the Lions committed more than 80 yards of penalties. While O’Brien is willing to roll the dice and try and convert fourth downs (0-3 in the game), he won’t stand for undisciplined play, which is something he’ll address again this week with his team as they prepare to travel to Nebraska next week. But what the Lions didn’t do-turn the ball over-is something O’Brien will add to the positives from his sixth win as head coach.
Billed as a so-called “Trap game,” where the Lions played the Boilermakers in between matchups against Ohio State and Nebraska, the first-year coach will be proud of the way his team bounced back against a deflating home loss last week in front of more than 108,000 fans. That’s the big positive to take from this one other than the win for the Lions, the way they responded yet again in the midst of a season filled with chances to respond.
Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions head to Nebraska next week to take on the No. 20 Cornhuskers. Nebraska is coming off a late comeback win over Michigan State on the road, and will likely move ahead in the polls. Bo Pelini’s crew sits atop the Leaders Division standings in the Big Ten and has the inside track for the Big Ten Championship game should they keep winning.