Penn State came into this game with a pretty good chance at coming out victorious, at least on paper. The same bug that ravaged the Nittany Lions a week prior was making its way through the Spartans, who were missing a number of guys, while others were playing injured. Penn State, on the other hand, was close to 100% after some of the players had gotten over the bug.
Looking at the game, you would have thought that the Nittany Lions were still dealing with the bug while the Spartans were at full strength. Michigan State came out and quickly took a two-touchdown lead, but Penn State tied it up to event the game.
The Lion defense were uncharacteristically bad on defense, especially through the air. The field conditions probably made the task of stopping Spartan players a lot tougher than usual, but more than the missed tackles, it was the blown plays, none more important than the 4th and 15 play late in the fourth quarter that led to a Spartan touchdown.
If the defense was bad, special teams were atrocious. The Nittany Lions missed an extra point, a chip shot of a field goal, and had a fumble on a kickoff return that forced Penn State to burn two of its three timeouts in Michigan State’s last full drive of the game.
All in all, this game was there for the taking by the Lions, but the miscues by the defense and special teams, and missed opportunities on offense, made a mere three point lead nearly insurmountable, and put the nail on the coffin when that three point lead became 10.