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Grading the Lions: Purdue

Penn State shook off a sluggish start and some early mistakes to put up 34 unanswered points and go on to a 34-9 rout of Purdue in chilly Ross-Ade Stadium. Take a look at how the Nittany Lions graded out at each position.

Zach Zwinak was Penn State's primary ballcarrier in the rout of Purdue.


Matt McGloin had another 300-yard game and threw a great deep ball to Brandon Moseby-Felder that broke the Boilermakers' back, but had some trouble with his accuracy and Purdue's blitzes early on and nearly threw a couple of interceptions. Steven Bench saw his first action in nearly two months but misfired on his only pass attempt.


Zach Zwinak turned in 134 yards on 21 carries and Michael Zordich added 33 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. Both bruising runners wore down a Purdue defense that hasn't stopped the run all season and made some wonder why Penn State didn't go to the ground more often. Bill Belton saw limited action, possibly because of an injury, but the Nittany Lions didn't need him Saturday.


Brandon Moseby-Felder had a career night -- 129 yards receiving and a touchdown and a pair of 40-yard grabs -- and Allen Robinson, was solid with five grabs for 58 yards. On a cold, breezy day that wasn't ideal for an aerial assault, they helped Penn State get the "chunk" plays it needed to help break the game open. With Kyle Carter back in State College with an ankle injury, Jesse James made some big plays, including a touchdown, and Matt Lehman and Garry Gilliam also recorded a catch each.


Some problems with protection against the blitz early in the game and a couple of penalties were mostly offset by a physical performance against Purdue's front seven. The Nittany Lions averaged nearly seven yards per play and were able to torch the Boilermakers through the air or on the ground.


Deion Barnes and Sean Stanley were terrific on the edges and a relatively thin rotation of defensive tackles did a solid job when senior Jordan Hill, the core of the defense, had to leave the game with a knee injury. Purdue could get no push up front and quarterbacks Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush were under duress for most of the day.


Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges were asked to make a lot of plays in coverage against Purdue's short passing attack and handled their assignments well. Mike Hull had a busy day as well (six tackles) and was disruptive. There weren't many chances for the linebackers to make an impact in the pass rush but they did their jobs elsewhere.


The Nittany Lions tackled well, rallied to the ball and set the tone with some big early hits by Adrian Amos and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong. Stephon Morris came up with six stops and a pass breakup. The defensive backs, as has been a theme this season, missed a couple of opportunities to come up with interceptions, and freshman DaQuan Davis' pass interference penalty helped set up Purdue's only touchdown in the final seconds. But overall another solid effort from a group that has come a long way since the beginning of the season.


For once, the specialists were the strong point. Sam Ficken connected on both of his field-goal tries and Alex Butterworth helped keep the Boilermakers deep on their own territory on the rare occasions he was called upon. The Nittany Lions gave up too many return yards, though, had another costly penalty on the punt return team and had issues with snapping. You never know what you're going to get from these units week to week.


Bill O'Brien and his staff faced the difficult task of rallying the team after a crushing emotional loss, and early on the Nittany Lions showed the effects of that loss. But the defensive coaches were ready for anything Purdue tried and O'Brien made some adjustments -- namely, more of Zach Zwinak -- against Purdue's blitzing. O'Brien kept his foot to the accelerator for the third straight road game and Danny Hope, who might not be in West Lafayette for much longer, could not counter.

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