The Penn State defense didn't play a fantastic game, but teamed up with Silas Redd and the special teams to make just enough big plays, shoving Penn State over the hump for a sloppy victory over the Purdue Boilermakers, 23-18, in front of a less-than-capacity homecoming crowd in Beaver Stadium.
However, after so many misfires, it might be time for Penn State (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) to holster its passing attack. The Nittany Lions' quarterbacks once again combined to complete less than 50 percent of their attempts, with no touchdowns and an end zone interception into very tight coverage.
Matt McGloin had Purdue's defense on the ropes. Penn State, leading 20-12, were driving for one more score to break the back of the Boilermakers' defense. But McGloin's pass into the end zone and a double-covered Bill Belton bounced off two players into the arms of Purdue's Albert Evans, who returned the ball back to midfield.
The Boilermakers (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) scored quickly, gaining momentum... for the moment. But Penn State yanked it right back on the ensuing kickoff, as Chaz Powell returned the ball 92 yards to the Purdue two yard line. A questionable celebration penalty pushed the Nittany Lions back to the 18. Penn State was held to a field goal, but stretched its lead to the final five-point margin of victory.
Following a Purdue three-and-out, Penn State was once again forced to punt. But Anthony Fera, 3-for-3 on field goals, boomed a punt 69 yards down to the Purdue two yard line. And with the Purdue offense pinned deep, the Penn State defense put the game away. Caleb TerBush's fourth-down pass was tipped by Devon Still and Nate Stupar hauled in his second interception of the game.
Penn State's defense forced four turnovers, three interceptions, while Purdue kicker Carson Wiggs missed a field goal and an extra point that banged off the upright. That missed PAT would have tied the game at 13. Purdue was able to slash "Linebacker U" for 344 total yards--about 90 more than the season average for PSU's D--but yards didn't translate into points for the visitors. It was a clinic in Penn State's trademark "Bend But Don't Break" cover-3 defense.
Redd finished with his third consecutive 100-yard game, rushing for 131 yards against the Boilermakers. Penn State totaled 182 yards on the ground on 48 attempts. Curtis Dukes, who teamed up with Redd against Iowa for big rushing yardage, scored his first career touchdown to put Penn State up 7-0 in the first quarter.
Rob Bolden once again started for Penn State, but only played a few drives in the first half, including making two great throws on the Nittany Lions' first touchdown drive. However, it was a similar situation to last week, as McGloin was inserted into the game and played all but one or two series the rest of the way. It would seem like Penn State likes McGloin as its new starting quarterback, but that would mean Joe Paterno and his staff made decisions with any sort of logic behind them.
Bolden finished 2-of-6 for 40 yards. McGloin finished 8-of-17 for 145 yards.
Penn State will travel to Northwestern next week.