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Rapid Reaction: Penn State 34, NU 24

10/22/2011

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Let's take a quick look at how the Penn State Nittany Lions ran past the Northwestern Wildcats 34-24 on Saturday night at Ryan Field.

How it happened: After giving up 24 points in the first half, Penn State's defense shut the door on Northwestern down the stretch. Nittany Lions quarterback Matthew McGloin threw two touchdown passes and helped his offense eat the clock down the stretch. Once again, Northwestern had chances to get back into the game, but Wildcats quarterback Dan Persa threw a costly interception early in the second half and his team continually struggled to make a big play when they needed it.

What it means: Northwestern just isn't that good. The defense is porous, and the offense, despite flashes of brilliance, struggles to find consistency during key stretches in the game. The Wildcats have now lost five in a row and are going to need to turn things around quickly in order to qualify for a bowl game. Given the expectations this team had before the season, this has to be one of the most disappointing starts Northwestern has had in recent memory.

Stat of the night: With the win, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno is now tied with former Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson with 408 wins -- most in Division I history.

What's next: Northwestern heads to Bloomington next Saturday to face Indiana.