While the national media will have their eyes closely affixed to the school from the outside looking in, you can now rely on Buzz On Broad and our newest contributor, PSU Insider Dan Smith, to shed light on the morale and attitude from within the confines of Happy Valley.
Look for Dan Smith to break down every game this season each week, from a gridiron perspective to the pulse of the fan base and student body. Enjoy this recap from Saturday's trouncing of Iowa.
Penn State 38, Iowa 14
Matt McGloin (PSU): 26-38, 289 yards, 2 TD
James Vandenberg (IOWA): 17-36, 189 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Bill Belton (PSU): 16 carries, 103 yards, 3 TD
Greg Garmon (IOWA): 8 carries, 27 yards
Kyle Carter (PSU): 6 receptions, 85 yards
Keenan Davis (IOWA): 4 receptions 83 yards, 1 TD
7:24 - PSU - Matt McGloin 31 Yd TD Pass to Jesse James (Sam Ficken Kick) ... PSU 7-0
2:43 - PSU - Matt McGloin 8 Yd TD Pass to Allen Robinson (Sam Ficken Kick) ... PSU 14-0
7:19 - PSU - Sam Ficken 34 Yd FG ... PSU 17-0
5:53 - PSU - Bill Belton 11 Yd TD Run (Sam Ficken Kick) ... PSU 24-0
14:33 - PSU - Bill Belton 3 Yd TD Run (Sam Ficken Kick) ... PSU 31-0
14:25 - PSU - Bill Belton 5 Yd TD Run (Sam Ficken Kick) ... PSU 38-0
14:14 - IOWA - Jordan Cotton 92 Yd Kickoff Return TD (Mike Meyer Kick) ... PSU 38-7
4:11 - IOWA - James Vandenberg 18 Yd TD Pass to Keenan Davis (Mike Meyer Kick) ... PSU 38-14
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
- Nothing will ever make up for the 2008 game in which Iowa ruined Penn State's national title game hopes with a come-from-behind win on a last second field goal. There is no possible way to make up for it. Still, that was really satisfying. A team that has had Penn State's number for over a decade, who has ruined many potentially great moments by being such a stingy defensive unit, by winning games in strange ways ... to thump them so thoroughly in their own stadium felt good to Nittany Lion fans.
- On top of the emotional context of the opponent being Iowa, this was a big win for Penn State. Iowa has one of the country's better defenses and always plays well at home. It was also a potential trap game for Penn State coming out of the bye week with Ohio State looming on the horizon. To not only avoid the trap game and to crush the Hawkeyes, the Nittany Lions surprised even their most ardent supporters.
- Matt McGloin had a tremendous game. His touchdown pass to Jesse James in the first quarter may have been the best play he had made in his Penn State career: he avoided the pressure, rolled out, planted and delivered an absolute strike 30 yards downfield for the score. He was consistent, moved very well in the pocket and was accurate. You cannot ask for more than what McGloin is giving Penn State right now.
- A fully healthy Bill Belton helped things big time. The buzz around the team in the summer made it seem like the dropoff from Silas Redd to Belton would not be that severe. But Belton fumbled early in the first game and left with an injury, and hadn't been the same up until this point. With two weeks to heal during the bye, Belton took full advantage. He looked miles ahead of where he was just six weeks ago, and that has to make things a lot easier for Bill O'Brien.
- The timing was even better because Zach Zwinak laid up his first egg. His rushing numbers were not awful, with 52 yards on 16 carries, but his two fumbles were bad. Zwinak needs to take better care of the ball.
- One of the other minor issues for Penn State's offense was Allen Robinson. Robinson did not have any single awful plays, but McGloin put at least four balls on Robinson that he could have caught that he did not. On each play, the argument could be made that it was a good defensive play or a not entirely accurate pass, but they added up. Robinson probably should have come up with two of those passes.
- Kyle Carter is a stud. The catch he made on fourth down was incredible. We have the first great tight end of Bill O'Brien's tenure.
- Defensively, Penn State was superb once again. The Nittany Lions completely shut down Iowa's depleted run game (Mark Weisman was limited to just five carries) and forced Vandenberg to sub-50 percent completion percentage. Jordan Hill was tremendous, finishing with nine tackles. And Michael Mauti picked off his third pass of the season, continuing a stellar season.
- Special teams is still a problem for Penn State. The coverage units have struggled all season, and yet another touchdown resulted from these struggles. It's arguably the toughest part of the sanctions: with such depth issues, there is not going to be much talent on these units. Don't expect these problems to go away for any of the upcoming seasons.
- So now we look ahead to Ohio State, in what might end up being the biggest game of the Big Ten season, against the odds. Ohio State is the top ranked team in the Big Ten, and the conference's only remaining undefeated team. Penn State is the conference's hottest team. Neither team is eligible for a bowl. Yet the atmosphere in Beaver Stadium on Saturday may be unmatched by anything seen in the conference this season.
Dan Smith is Buzz on Broad's Penn State Insider and the Executive Editor of Penn State's ComRadio. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ThatDanSmith.