Despite the level of opposition, Penn State does appear to be improving and three of the final seven games are against ranked teams (Northwestern, Ohio State, and Nebraska) so we will find out a lot more about the Nittany Lions by end of the season.
In the Big Ten opener on Saturday, the Lions were consistent and disciplined in their 35-7 blowout victory over Illinois. Penn State has an effective old school offense that reflects the pro style of coach Bill O’Brien. They steadily run the ball mixed in with passing and play action while utilizing the tight ends. Penn State rushed for 173 yards led by running back Zach Zwinak’s 100 yards on the ground. Tight ends Matt Lehman and Kyle Carter combined for 115 receiving yards. Quarterback Matt McGloin was also well poised and had three total touchdowns on the day.
The Penn State defense had a good outing against a sloppy Illinois team. The Nittany Lions held the Illini to only 74 yards rushing and caused three turnovers. Linebacker Michael Mauti intercepted the ball twice for PSU. Mauti was one of many Penn State players that were aggravated by the recruiting tactics of their players by Illinois after the sanctions were placed on the football program that allowed immediate transfers. For the season, the Lions defense is ranked 14th overall with just 13.6 points allowed per game.
Penn State’s next game is at home against no. 24 Northwestern.