For every football team, there comes a point in a season when they are faced with an opportunity to change the course of their year. It can be as simple as a game winning sack or a win against a Top 10 opponent. For Penn State, it often seems all too rare that these moments are taken advantage of, that at every turn Penn State comes up just short of a chance to make a statement.
But not on Saturday.
Penn State, led by the 28 carry, 142 yard ground attack of Silas Redd took out an Iowa squad that had been their achilles heel for the past several years. For Penn State, beating Iowa was not only a huge step forward in terms of conference play but a victory over a team that had become a thorn in the program's side.
Offensivly, despite the low scoring game Penn State moved the ball fairly well putting together 395 yards of offense including three drives of 80 yards or more. While the Nittany Lions will still need to figure out their Red zone woes, Penn State's ability to move the ball when it needed to was a welcome sight for anyone who had sat through the first five games of the season.
In the ever changing quarterback race, Rob Bolden may have finally played himself on to the bench. Poorly thrown balls at almost every juncture led to what could be considered Bolden's worst overall performance as a Nittany Lion. Certainly his limited action under center prevented him from ever fixing those problems, but it was fairly clear early on that Rob Bolden was struggling.
For Matt McGloin, the moxie was once again rampant as he led the Nittany Lions on their only touchdown scoring drive and proved again to be a valuable game manager. Going 12/19 for 133 yards and a touchdown, McGloin took a clear step ahead of Bolden in the quarterback race. Although a could have been costly interception was more than preventable, McGloin went out and performed well when he was asked to do so. Even though Galen Hall was non-committal after the game, it seems likely that Matt McGloin will be the first off the bus for homecoming next weekend.
Defensively the Nittany Lions played one of their most aggressive and dominating games in conference play in recent memory. Devon Still led the way as usual helping Penn State rack up 5 sacks and constant pressure in the Hawkeye backfield with a highly unusual number of blitzes. The Nittany Lion defense also forced 3 turnovers bringing their season total up to 14 turnovers while the Nittany Lion offense has only coughed up the ball 11 times. This positive turnover ratio is something that was not the case last season and has been a bright spot on both sides of the ball.
Overall Penn State did not play a perfect game on Saturday, but a game that could very well go a long way in determining the direction of the season. A win over Iowa not only gives the Nittany Lion's bragging rights, but a sense of character and swagger that has been missing on both sides of the ball.
Penn State now goes to 5-1 on the season and 2-0 in Big Ten play. They stay at home next week for a match up with Purdue who is 3-2 on the year after blowing out Minnesota 45-17. Iowa falls to 3-2 and heads to Northwestern next week to take on a Wildcat squad that has blown leads two weeks in a row.