Penn State triumphs in battle of big cats; more early Snap Judgments
• Penn State 39, No. 24 Northwestern 28. Pat Fitzgerald’s herd of cats was 5-0 and well on its way to a 6-0 start, a feat unequaled by any Northwestern squad since 1962. The Wildcats had one conference win and three victories over AQ nonconference opponents to their credit. So, naturally, Week 6 was when they ran into a fourth-quarter buzzsaw in the form of … Penn State?
Pointed momentum swings characterized Saturday’s contest. The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 10-0 lead, only to see the Wildcats retake the scoreboard and then some, carrying a 28-17 lead after three quarters. Then, for lack of a better description for what happened next, the fourth quarter commenced and Penn State proceeded to outgain Northwestern 186-23. Matt McGloin displayed some serious poise in this period, passing for a touchdown, running for a two-point conversion and scoring again on a five-yard run with less than three minutes to play. Penn State scored three unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the last coming on a Michael Zordich three-yard run precisely one minute after McGloin’s dash for the end zone.
Wildcat fans might be wondering about now why Venric Mark took a knee on a kick return with 2:37 remaining after he’d already returned a punt 75 yards for a score at the end of the third quarter. They might also be flexing their claws (because they’re cats!) at the sight of Mark and Kain Colter, averaging a combined 180-plus rushing yards heading into today’s contest, finishing with a mere 96 combined. But Penn State has now won four straight, including two in league play. A fitting beginning, maybe, to a curious day of football. [BOX | RECAP]
• Michigan State 31, Indiana 27. AND SPEAKING OF CURIOUS. Our weekly sarcastic “Can’t let [obviously superior team] hang around like that, [underdog who is frittering away a win]!” honor goes to the Hoosiers, who led the Spartans 17-0 at the end of the first quarter and 27-14 at halftime — and did not score again. Michigan State played haphazardly for much of the afternoon. It amassed 115 yards in penalties and, again, trailed Indiana for three and a half quarters. Of all the sensations we thought we would be experiencing this season — and they were many and varied — wishing we got the Big Ten Network in HD was not among them. [BOX | RECAP]
• No. 7 Kansas State 56, Kansas 16. K-State’s Collin Klein: 7-of-14 passing for 129 yards and two touchdowns; 10 rushes for 116 yards and two more scores. Kansas’ Dayne Crist: 16-of-27 passing for 189 yards, four sacks, one touchdown, one fumble and three interceptions. In advance of whatever defense Kansas’ student paper makes for this game, people will have a really hard time saying nice things about the Jayhawks’ performance Saturday. (We’ll give them one: James Sims, who can be counted on every year to show up in an excellent hairdo for his team headshot, rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.) [BOX | RECAP]
• Ohio 38, Buffalo 31. Another close MAC call for the Bobcats yields the first bowl-eligible team of 2012. Tyler Tettleton’s second-quarter touchdown pass to Tyler Futrell tied Tettleton with Boo Jackson atop the school’s all-time passing touchdown list. [BOX | RECAP]
• Navy 28, Air Force 21 (OT). Nineteen passes were attempted in this game. NINETEEN! We’re going to blame this on overtime. The first game of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy race concluded with a covert FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN as Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds fumbled on a push into the end zone and 318-pound offensive guard Jake Zuzek snagged it for the score. [BOX | RECAP]
• Arkansas 24, Auburn 7. This was not a game with major conference or national ramifications, but we just want to point out what happens when you put the nation’s 116th- and 120th-ranked teams in turnover margin in the same stadium. Namely, that Auburn came off a bye and — with two weeks of preparation — surrendered eight sacks and three interceptions to a team that had recorded five sacks and one interception this entire season. Read on, if you dare! [BOX | RECAP]