After every Penn State game this season, the Daily News will provide Nittany Line Plus with our analysis and observations. Here is our take on the 10-7 win over Illinois.
DID YOU NOTICE . . .
That Joe Paterno recorded his 409th career victory to surpass Eddie Robinson as the all-time leader in victories by Division I coaches? Paterno now has a record of 409-136-3 over 46 seasons. Robinson had a record of 408-165-15 from 1941-97at Grambling. Paterno is second in all-division wins behind John Gagliardi, who has 482 victories at Division III St. John's (Minn.).
That, at 5-0, Penn State is the lone unbeaten team remaining in Big Ten play? It is the Nittany Lions' fourth 5-0 start in the Big Ten, joining 1994, 1999 and 2008.
That Penn State now has a 2 1/2-game lead on the other contenders in the Leaders Division? Ohio State, Wisconsin and Purdue are all 2-2. Penn State has the bye week and then hosts Nebraska, and travels to Ohio State and Wisconsin.
That Penn State won its seventh straight game and is now either 8-1 or 9-0 after nine games for the third time in the last 4 years? The Nits have won at least eight games for the 35th time in Joe Paterno's 46 seasons as head coach.
That Penn State improved to 6-0 in games decided by 10 points or less this season? That is their most wins in those games since winning seven by seven points or less in 1995.
That this was not an offensive masterpiece? If your eyes were open, you noticed that. Penn State scored its fewest points (10) in a win since 9-0 at Alabama in 1990, and it was the first Penn State game to be scoreless at halftime since a 6-0 loss at Alabama in 1984.
That the quarterback play left something to be desired? Matt McGloin was 9-for-24 for 98 yards, while Rob Bolden was 0-for-4, all in the second quarter.
That the Nittany Lions' defense bailed out the offense, time and again? Penn State is allowing an average of 12.4 points per game, which is fourth in the nation in scoring defense. The Nittany Lions also forced a season-high four turnovers. Illinois was held to seven points and 286 yards, well off its season averages of 28.6 points and 417.1 yards.
That linebacker Gerald Hodges has been playing like a monster? He followed a career-best 14 tackles at Northwestern with a career-high 19 tackles. A Penn State player has not had that many since Paul Posluszny had 22 at Northwestern in 2005.
That Penn State's starting defensive tackles combined for 20 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss?
That running back Silas Redd continues to be a workhorse? He had his fifth consecutive 100-yard rushing game with 137 yards on a career-high 30 carries. He is the first Penn State player with at least five consecutive 100-yard rushing games since Curtis Enis had eight straight in 1997. Redd increased his season total to a Big Ten-leading 1,006 yards and is the 12th Penn State player to post a 1,000-yard season.
That Penn State continues to climb in the polls? The Nittany Lions moved up five spots in the Associated Press poll to No. 16 and four spots in the coaches' poll to No. 15.