2010 Penn State Football
Penn State Nittany Lions vs Indiana Hoosiers Football Recap
Penn State 41, Indiana 24
The Penn State Nittany Lions might not have a Rose Bowl berth to play for as they hit the back end of their Big Ten schedule, but the point still remains that this team has come a long way in 2010.
Yes, Coach Joseph Vincent Paterno has taken his team from mediocrity to solidity, from impotence to competence, over the span of the past three months. Saturday afternoon’s 17-point win over the Indiana Hoosiers in a neutral-site conference clash at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, showed why.
Early in the season, Penn State couldn’t sniff the end zone. The heroes of Happy Valley were allergic to the goal line. They couldn’t score seven points on a drive… not against BCS conference opponents, at any rate. The PSU crew tallied just three points at Alabama and only three more at Iowa. The Nittany Lions, under quarterback Robert Bolden, managed only one touchdown apiece in home games versus Illinois and Temple, and everyone in University Park, Pennsylvania, wondered when this team’s offense would finally hit its stride.
After a 3-3 start that had everyone on edge in the Keystone State, the Blue and White has now won four of five following this win over Indiana in a game the Hoosiers wanted to move off-site. Indiana got a paycheck in exchange for moving the game out of state, but coach Bill Lynch’s undermanned IU squad also forfeited a reasonable shot at a win. If this game had been played at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana, the Hoosiers might have surged in the fourth quarter. Instead, it was Penn State who took the initiative and blanked its conference rival by a 17-0 count over the final 17 minutes of play.
It’s true that the tiebreaking play in this Big Ten battle came courtesy of a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown by Penn State’s James Van Fleet. The 21-yard scoop-and-score turned a 24-all tie into a 31-24 PSU lead just before the end of the third stanza. However, while special teams loomed large, the biggest reason the Lions roared against the Hoosiers was the same reason Penn State’s season has changed for the better.
When PSU was 3-3, the aforementioned Mr. Bolden, a talented but shaky freshman, had failed to unlock the full potential of the Lions’ offense. However, Matthew McGloin got the nod from Paterno against Michigan on Oct. 30, and when Penn State rolled up 41 points in a 10-point triumph, the code had finally been cracked. The safe had been opened, and Penn State finally found riches on the offensive side of the ball. McGloin got dominated and humiliated by Ohio State’s world-class defense in the second half of a pick-six-heavy loss on Oct. 13, but in all of his other outings, McGloin has been sensational. His accurate reads and strong throwing arm have enabled McGloin to give Penn State both consistency and potency. This two-pronged power was in evidence against Indiana.
McGloin hit 22-of-31 passes in this contest – a 71 percent completion rate – for 315 yards and, instructively, no interceptions. Indiana did fight back from an early 14-0 deficit to tie the score at 24-apiece midway through the third quarter, but when crunch time came calling, McGloin mastered the moment. He led two scoring drives in the fourth quarter to put the game – and Indiana – to bed. It’s highly doubtful that Bolden would have been able to do the same thing. Now Penn State is assured of a winning season, and can move to a very respectable 8-4 by beating Michigan State this Saturday.
Not bad for a team that couldn’t do anything on offense over the first five weeks of the college football season.
> Find more Big Ten football news online at Big Ten Fans!