Following is Neil Rudel's report card from Penn State's 35-21 victory over Northwestern on Saturday at Beaver Stadium:
POSITION GRADE COMMENT
Quarterback A McGloin now has three straight 200-plus yard games and seven TDs in last 11 quarters. Team clearly is responding to him better than Bolden, who will have to adjust to a backup role.
Running backs A Glad Redd (11-131) has Curt Warner's No. 25 because he plays a lot like him. Royster (25-134, 4 catches for 45) running more decisively since September. Green's 21-yard draw keyed late first-half drive. And how about Suhey's six catches?
Offensive line B+ Bolden was sacked twice, and Lions were short on two short-yardage plays early. But they sure got in gear under McGloin, who wasn't sacked. Backs averaged 5.7 on 46 attempts, and screen game was sharp.
.Receivers A This game had more great receptions, on both sides, than any in memory. Brackett's TD got Nits back in game. Moye (5-85) got loose for TD and also dropped a couple of tough catches. Both drew interference penalties. Zug's 20-yarder at sideline was big.
Tight end B+ Cadogan got first TD with 3-yard reception (first of his career) in which Brackett was also open. Haplea did a nice job on kickout block to spring early Royster screen.
Offensive coaching A Penn State has now played three straight wildly entertaining games, thanks to great playcalling. Staff handling the QB situation just right and also mixing in Redd extremely well. And one of these days, the reverse will work. Right?
Defensive line C Did these guys take sedatives before the game? My goodness. The ends were totally AWOL and allowed Persa to set the tone with a 41-yard run on game's first play. Ogbu (2TFLs) turned it up in second half.
Linebacker B+ Mauti was a man possessed with 11 stops and 3TFLs and Colasanti (11 stops) keeps racking up numbers. Tandem help pitch second-half shutout.
Secondary B Powell had his best moment with late deflection in the end zone. Willis (8 stops) and Astorino (4) strong in run support. Dailey beaten for TD that put NW up 21-0.
Defensive coaching B- Credit Bradley & Co. for firing up unit and making adjustments to close down option. Way too many slow starts this season, though, don't speak well of pre-game scheming - and can't happen in Columbus.
Special teams C Coverage teams have been spirited and Fera's kickoffs are a weapon. But Green seems tentative on returns, and Nits were flagged for pair of special-teams holding penalties.
The other guy C Which NW should we grade? The first 29 minutes or last 31? Wildcats looked great, then couldn't finish. Allowing last-minute 91-yard TD drive crippling. Couldn't match Nits' emotion. Persa (310 total yards) a gamer.
Officials B Appeared to get both bang-bang TD receptions right. Crew was decisive with reviews and overturned one call. Had Moye non-catch correct, even though PSU issued a curious challenge. Cheap call vs. Stanley on alleged roughing QB.
Atmosphere A JoePa's 400th victory celebration was tastefully choreographed without being overdone. It made for another of the many nights of the Paterno Era to remember - and compensated for a developing trend of empty seats (5,000-plus).
Overall grade B+ McGloin has turned this season into something exciting. The Lions will take a three-game winning streak and a season-high confidence level to Ohio State. Of course, they'll need it.
Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or email@example.com. He will respond to brief comments in Gameday.