Instant analysis: PSU 39, Northwestern 28

October, 6, 2012
10/06/12
3:37
PM ET


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Northwestern has waited half a century to start a season with a 6-0 record.

The Nittany Lions made sure it will have to wait at least one more season.

Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin composed himself and led the Lions to a 39-28 victory after trailing by 11 points in the second half. McGloin dove in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Penn State's defense answered by forcing a Northwestern three-and-out, and Michael Zordich added another touchdown. Penn State improves to 4-2 with the win, and Northwestern falls to 5-1.

It was over when: Mike Hull deflected Northwestern's last chance at a comeback. On 4th-and-7 from the Wildcats' own 28, Trevor Siemian attempted a pass over the middle, but Hull got his hand on it right in front of the receiver. The sideline erupted after the stop.

Game ball goes to: McGloin. Trailing 28-17, McGloin put the team on his shoulders and didn't make a mistake. He led Penn State to two scoring drives and rumbled for a 5-yard TD run to put his team up 32-28. He finished 35-of-51 for 282 yards and two touchdown passes.

Stat of the game: 161. Rushing yards by Penn State. Northwestern came in with the nation's 13th-ranked run defense, and PSU entered with the No. 86 rushing offense. Still, somehow, PSU was able to have one of its best rushing games of the season.

Unsung hero: Zach Zwinak. Against a tough run defense, the Penn State fullback-turned-tailback finished with 121 yards on 28 carries. He entered this season as the team's last option at tailback, but he has shown in the past three games that he might just be the best running back on the team.

What it means: Penn State is a legitimate contender for the title in the Leaders Division. The Nittany Lions showed they can make a comeback, and it showed this offense is for real. For Northwestern, it showed it still has some defensive issues to fix -- but the offense is certainly dynamic.

Josh Moyer | email

Penn State/Big Ten reporter

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