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Penn State 10: Week 4 power rankings

9/23/2012

Welcome to Week 4 of NittanyNation's power rankings, a top-10 list of Penn State players who are surpassing expectations, and who to keep an eye on.

After its best week yet, Penn State seems ready for the conference season. Some new players stepped up, some leaders played solidly and a few made big leaps on the list.

Whose performance left the biggest impression, and whose contributions were the most surprising? This week's top 10:

1. QB Matt McGloin

The fifth-year quarterback picked apart Temple's experienced secondary. He found nine different receivers, passed for a career-high 318 yards and made few mistakes Saturday. Sure, he had an interception, but the pass deflected off the wideout's hands. He did everything Bill O'Brien asked of him and more. He scored two rushing touchdowns, one of which came on a broken play, and set the tone for PSU's offense.

2. LB Michael Mauti

Mauti could very well lead the team in tackles per game for the rest of the season. He dropped back in pass coverage, he came in for run support, and he was everywhere the defense needed him Saturday. He forced yet another fumble, broke up a pass and finished with nine tackles. He's the best player on the defense.

3.RB Michael Zordich

He was forced to miss time in the second half because of a bruised knee, but Zordich made his presence felt in the first half. For a team that has struggled running the ball, the fullback-turned-tailback had 62 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and added another 39 receiving yards -- just in the first two quarters. Zordich has always been known as a team leader, and Saturday was a career day for him.

4. DT Jordan Hill

His name hasn't been called too much this season, but it certainly was Saturday. Hill finished second on the team with seven tackles, forced a fumble and added a sack. Temple accumulated some rush yards when the game was basically clinched, but Hill helped hold Temple to just 2.9 yards per carry in the first half when it counted.

5. WR Allen Robinson

Another game, another memorable performance. He continues to lead the Big Ten in receiving after he caught five balls for 82 yards and a touchdown. On a Fourth-and-5 play, he adjusted on a backpedal, caught a pass over his head -- between two defensive backs -- and sprinted for a 41-yard touchdown. He could leave Penn State as one of the best WRs in Lions history.

6. RB Zach Zwinak

Last season, he was a third-string fullback. Saturday, he looked like Penn State's best tailback. He rushed for 94 yards -- all in the second half -- and turned it up after Zordich became injured. Zwinak entered this season as the team's fifth option to run the ball, and his performance was more like that of a top option. No one exceeded expectations more than Zwinak.

7. CB Stephon Morris

The secondary might be a weak spot for Penn State, but Morris sure looked good Saturday. He broke up a pass and watched Chris Coyer struggle throwing the ball. He also offered some run support, tackling three ball carriers, and finished with five tackles.

8. C Matt Stankiewitch

With two bruising running backs this past weekend, Stankiewitch was bound to see some action up the middle -- and he delivered. Zwinak and Zordich received good push from the interior of the line, and Stankiewitch was a big reason. He's the anchor of this line and, without Donovan Smith, was counted on even more. He didn't disappoint.

9. LB Gerald Hodges

The stat sheet wasn't too kind to Hodges. He finished with just six tackles, but he still played a crucial role in the victory. Whenever the play was out of Mauti's reach, Hodges stepped up and made the stop. He's a fast linebacker, and Temple struggled to keep him out of plays.

10. PR Jesse Della Valle

The redshirt sophomore might not have been one of the best players on the field, but he shored up one glaring weakness for Penn State. And he came out of nowhere to do it. With a struggling special teams unit, Della Valle made his case for the starting return job by returning three punts for 45 yards. He showed good vision, made quick cuts and gave PSU a short field to work with. By comparison, his teammate Evan Lewis returned a 58-yard punt for minus-6 yards. Penn State needed someone, anyone, to do something good on special teams, and Della Valle delivered.