Penn State defeats Michigan, 41-31

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Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin hands off to running back Evan Royster in the first quarter against Michigan. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - While Michigan's Denard Robinson burned the Beaver Stadium grass at his feet with his dashing and darting, Penn State's Matt McGloin was cool, composed, and more than competent.

McGloin, the former walk-on making his first career start, passed for one touchdown, ran for another, and engineered one of the Nittany Lions' best offensive games of the season Saturday night, leading them to a 41-31 victory over the Wolverines at Beaver Stadium.

McGloin, a redshirt sophomore, completed 17 of 28 passes for 250 yards. He threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Graham Zug and sneaked over from a yard out. Under his guidance, the Penn State offense converted 10 of 16 third-down opportunities.

Evan Royster carried the ball 29 times for 150 yards, establishing a Penn State record for career rushing yards with 3,518, and scored two touchdowns. He broke Curt Warner's record of 3,398 late in the first quarter.

Robinson, a fleet sophomore, had the Penn State defense confounded, rushing for 191 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns and passing for 190 and one score. He had 381 of the 423 total yards gained by Michigan (5-3, 1-3 Big Ten Conference).

The Nittany Lions (5-3, 2-2) picked up the 399th victory of coach Joe Paterno's career.

"I think it's important to get the feel of what it takes to get more confidence, playing a good football team and doing as well as we did," Paterno said. "The thing that impressed me was that we didn't do anything silly. We were very solid, and that's a sign of growing up."

McGloin filled in for the injured Rob Bolden, who warmed up before the game but was kept out as a precautionary measure. When asked whether there was a quarterback "controversy" once Bolden returns, quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said no.

"It's Rob Bolden's job when he comes back," the younger Paterno said. "The great thing now is we've got two guys who can go into a big-time environment and make plays."

Bolden is expected to return Saturday against Northwestern.

Jay Paterno said that he received a number of e-mails and texts expressing doubts that McGloin could do the job but that the former third-stringer gave the type of performance he expected.

"He's a smart football player," he said. "I didn't have any doubts. I got a lot of suggestions as to what we should do. But I thought he had what it took."

The Lions salted the game away when Collin Wagner, who kicked two field goals, rushed for 7 yards and a first down on a fake field goal. The game ended at the Michigan 2, from where McGloin took a knee to run the clock out.

The Nittany Lions led by 28-10 at halftime and by 31-10 after Joe Paterno elected to kick the field goal on fourth and 1 from the Michigan 14. The Lions maintained their 21-point lead at 38-17 on Michael Zordich's 5-yard touchdown run with about four minutes to go in the third quarter.

But the Wolverines were relentless, and Robinson virtually unstoppable. The speedy quarterback they call Shoelace sneaked in from a yard out before the third quarter was over, and went in on a 4-yard run 51/2 minutes into the fourth.

The Nittany Lions got a break on the kickoff after it became 38-31, with a personal foul against the Wolverines moving the ball to the Michigan 49. McGloin's 15-yard pass to Justin Brown on third down helped the Lions get into field-goal range, and Wagner delivered from 42 yards out.

The Wolverines then failed to convert on fourth and 8 from their 28, with Robinson overthrowing Roy Roundtree at midfield with 4 minutes, 44 seconds to play. Michigan never got the football back.

In the first half, Penn State scored touchdowns on four of its five possessions. Royster, who broke Warner's career rushing record late in the first quarter and had 99 yards by halftime, scored on runs of 4 yards and 1 yard. McGloin accounted for the other two scores on a sneak and the pass to Zug.

The Lions also did a good job offensively in keeping the ball away from Robinson, with two of their TD drives lasting more than five minutes.

 


Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com.