Justin K. Aller - Getty Images
You missed the game and have no idea what went on? Learn all the relevant details in 'Hey, Wha Happen?'
That was not the same old Northwestern team of the last decade. That was much closer to the 1995 - 1997 Northwestern squads. No, this 2012 NU squad isn't a physical beast jacked up on 'roid rage, grinding on you with a power run game for 60 minutes. But they have the same fight as those squads. Northwestern came into Beaver Stadium expecting to win, and they didn't wilt or throw in the towel. Not even when they fell down 10 - 0 early in the second quarter.
But Penn State's got some fight in them, too.
After Venric Mark's 75-yard punt return put Northwestern ahead 17 - 28 with just over 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, BOB and the boys flipped a mental switch, and started raining hay-makers. They received the kickoff and went 82 yards on 18 plays over six minutes for a touchdown. Zach Zwinak carried seven times and caught three passes on the drive. And BOB set himself up to be a scapegoat, eschewing the 25-yard field goal on 4th and 4 which would have reduced the deficit to eight - a single possession. Instead, he asked Matt McGloin to make a play - and McGloin did, buying time in the pocket, and hitting Allen Robinson for the touchdown. Then BOB asked for another play, as Zordich found the end zone on the 2-point conversion to cut the Northwestern lead to just three, at 25 - 28.
It was a series of blows from which the 'Cats wouldn't recover. With momentum and 100,000 fans on their side, the Penn State defense forced another three-and-out. Then BOB's offense did it again, landing body blow after body blow as they marched 85 yards on 15 plays, this time in 5:38. This time scoring on 3rd down, with McGloin running it in off a play-action waggle. It was such a beautiful, graceful, athletic play that it quickly earned it's own gif. The discount double check at the end was simply icing on the cake:
Now down four, with just over 2:30 remaining, Northwestern took the ball and went nowhere. The Penn State defense forced a four-and-out, turning the ball back over to the offense on downs. Of Northwestern's 13 possessions in the game, nine (9) ended in a turnover or punt after just five snaps or fewer. This Ted Roof defense allowed just 247 yards to Northwestern - about 500 fewer than did Indiana.
With the ball and the lead, BOB tried to run out the clock. But Mike Zordich broke a 25-yard run down to the Northwestern 3-yard line. It was Penn State's longest run on the season. One play later, a Zordich touchdown run, and the rout - yeah, a rout - was on. Eighteen minutes before, Northwestern had led by 11, and players were jawing with Penn State fans. Now they were down 11 with 90 seconds remaining, flat on their backs, with a raucous mob jeering back at them.
Three Completely Random, Probably Useless Thoughts
1) Northwestern had the two fastest players on the field. Has that ever happened before?
2) I hate Noon kickoffs. You hate Noon kickoffs. BO'B doesn't care when you kickoff. He's taking the ball, and he's kicking your ass in the first quarter. Penn State has received the ball to start all six of the contests this season, and has outscored opponents 52 - 0. #Preparation.
3) Penn State ran 99 plays on offense and held the ball for nearly 40 minutes of the 60 minute game - all while rushing for just 3.4 yards per carry. Nice game plan, BOB. It was not a pretty game early. But Penn State's second half possessions looked like this: 12 plays 80 yards TD; 4 plays -2 yards Punt; 18 plays 82 yards TD; 15 plays 85 yards TD; 3 plays 28 yards TD; 1 play, victory formation.
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