Halftime analysis: Northwestern 14, PSU 10

October, 6, 2012
10/06/12
1:46
PM ET
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- In what's become a recurring theme, Penn State dominated the first half but hasn't seen the performance translated on the scoreboard.

The Nittany Lions' defense has bottled up Kain Colter, and they've limited the country's ninth-best rushing offense to just 33 yards. On offense, PSU has driven inside Northwestern territory five times -- but has come away with just 10 points.

Mistakes have haunted Penn State so far. Kyle Carter dropped a touchdown pass, at least three other drops have been committed, one penalty halted a drive, and Jesse Della Valle fumbled a punt.

Stat of the half: 20:41. The amount of time it took for Northwestern to record a first down. The Wildcats were held to four straight three-and-outs and didn't record a first down until the 9:19 mark of the second quarter.

Player of the half: Gerald Hodges. Who does he think he is, Michael Mauti? Hodges has been all over the field in this first half. He deflected two critical passes -- nearly pulling down an interception -- and recorded multiple tackles-for-loss.

What's working: Penn State defense. Northwestern can't get anything started on offense. It went three-and-out on the first four drives and, outside of recovering a PSU fumble in the red zone, the Wildcats have only gotten past the Penn State 40-yard line on one occasion. Northwestern has mustered only 122 yards so far.

What's not working: Mistake-free football. Penalties, a turnover, drops, inconsistent special teams -- the Nittany Lions are watching a game it has mostly dominated slip away. Penn State seems to be its worst enemy at this point. Stephon Morris was flagged for pass interference to keep Northwestern's last touchdown drive alive, and Jesse Della Valle muffed a punt midway through the second quarter to hand the 'Cats the ball at the 17-yard line. Northwestern scored on that drive, too.

Turning point: Jesse Della Valle muffed a punt midway through the second quarter and handed Northwestern the ball at the 17-yard line. The Wildcats scored a touchdown, ending Penn State's five-game run without allowing a TD in the first half. Penn State could have entered halftime with at least a 3-point lead. Instead, Northwestern stole some momentum and grabbed the lead.

Josh Moyer | email

Penn State/Big Ten reporter

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