That was certainly one of the most frustrating games I ever witnessed. But a win is a win and at least the fourth quarter and overtime provided some excitement. And thank god that it wasn’t this game where Illinois snapped their long Big Ten losing streak. So let’s get to this week’s Notes from Nittanyville:
- It was pretty embarrassing to see how empty the student section was for kickoff. Just like most games, it eventually got pretty full, but if I was a Penn State player running out of the tunnel and saw the student section how it was, I would be pretty bummed out. I realize it was a noon kickoff against a bad opponent and it’s Halloween weekend, but come on.
- One minor positive thing about less people in the student section was that the pregame alma mater was better. Less people means less of a chance to screw it up. And for the most part, it wasn’t too bad in terms of the students singing at the pace that the Blue Band was playing. That’s always something that really bothers me.
- Regarding the actual game, you have to give Illinois credit. When Penn State went up 14-0 it seemed like it would be smooth sailing from then on. But Illinois converted a lot of key third downs, Nathan Scheelhaase made a lot of big time plays and their defense made a lot of stops when they needed to. Was Penn State a little lucky to win this game? Probably.
- If you were at the game or watched it on TV, you saw that Zach Zwinak wore gloves for the first time. Now contrary to what most people think, him not wearing gloves wasn’t the main cause for his fumbling problems. Holding on to the football is all about tucking it away, the five points of pressure and using two arms to cover the ball. But if wearing gloves helps Zwinak hang on to the ball then hey, I’m all for it.
- Speaking of Penn State running backs, how about Bill Belton? He began 2012 as the starter, then Zwinak took over and now he has regained control of the starting job again in 2013. And the fact that a quick, shifty guy like him carried the ball 36 times is pretty impressive. Despite the fumble deep in Illinois territory that almost cost Penn State the game, Belton was a huge part of the win.
- You know how when a game goes into the fourth quarter people put a four in the air with their hands? Penn State defensive tackle Derek Dowrey put a five in the air when the team huddled before overtime started. I just thought that was funny, especially since he was the only Penn State player that did that.
- It was great to see how active Mike Hull and Ben Kline were. Hull has been battling injuries all year and Kline hasn’t seen as much time as I thought he would. But both were great in this game. The defense as a whole responded in critical moments, especially the tip drill (that happened right in front of me) with Adrian Amos and Ryan Keiser that ended the game.
The fact that Tim Beckman came so close to winning only to have it snatched away in overtime makes me feel a little better about this game, considering that it wasn’t a very well-played game. The season is 75% over and I only have two games left as a student. The Nittany Lions play at Minnesota next week before playing Purdue in Beaver Stadium on Nov. 16th. Hopefully Penn State can string a few Big Ten wins together to finish the season strong.
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