From the very start it looked like Penn State was down and out. Northwestern took the opening drive down the field and scored easily to take the crowd out of the game. The Penn State offense struggled to deal with the Northwestern blitz. Rob Bolden got yanked after giving up a disasterous fumble, and before we knew it Penn State was down 21-0 and the chances of Joe Paternogetting win number 400 today were looking bleak. Twitter was in full meltdown mode as Cory Giger and Ron Musselman were beside themselves with glee in the disaster unfolding before their eyes.
Somehow the defense got a stop, and Penn State got the ball on their own 9 yard line with 53 seconds to go in the first half. Nobody would have been shocked if the Lions took a knee to stop the first half bleeding. But Matt McGloin would have none of it. The Slinger from Scranton boldly drove them down the field and connected with Brett Brackett in the back of the endzone with three seconds to go. Penn State had seized the momentum and they weren't looking back.
The third quarter was an offensive explosion unlike anything we have seen since, well, maybe last week. Penn State scored on their next four possessions while the defense shut down the Wildcats in place. The disasterous 21-0 deficit was methodically erased and turned into an authoratative 35-21 victory giving legendary Joe Paterno win number 400 for his career.
Going into the game I felt Rob Bolden deserved to have the starting job back when he came back from injury. But after today I have changed my mind. I hate to see Bolden lose the job due to injury and outside of the fumble he wasn't playing terribly, but right now Matt McGloin is too good to sit on the bench. He finished the day with 225 yards and 4 TD on 18-of-29 passing. He has ignited a spark in this offense that was left for dead after the Illinois game.
Of course, McGloin has had the benefit of playing behind an offensive line that is gelling, and he has Evan Royster running well to take some of the pressure off of him. Royster finished the day with 134 yards on 25 carries, and he also added four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown.
The other pleasant surprise has been Silas Redd who exploded for 131 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. Redd continues to emerge as a home run threat every time he gets the ball.
In conclusion, I'll just leave you with two words that are music to my ears after the journey it has taken to get to this point: Bowl Eligible.