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Penn State Football: Handing Out the Grades After Penn State's 24-13 Win Over Temple

by on September 24, 2012 3:00 PM

Following Penn State's first win under new head coach Bill O'Brien nine days ago, the message was clear.

An 0-2 start would not define the season, and the Nittany Lions still had a chance to show the nation they were not to be taken lightly.

For a second straight game Saturday, they did just that, dominating the Temple Owls for four quarters en route to a 24-13 victory at Beaver Stadium.

The Nittany Lions aren't where they need to be, but they continued to show improvement in all areas and seem to be finding their identity in time for conference play. 

There is no telling what Penn State's ceiling is, but the past two games ought to give fans hope that there is still plenty of meaningful football left to be played.

Offense B: Matt McGloin threw for a career high 318 yards passing and was on target completing 24 of 36 passes. His only interception was tipped by a receiver and should have been a catch. McGloin is thriving in BO'Brien's offense which not only bodes well for the remainder of the year but is a solid sales pitch for Nittany Lions verbal commit Christian Hackenberg, who as the top quarterback in the 2013 class, won't be too keen on heading elsewhere if Penn State can prove to be a viable quarterback farm.

A respectable 8-of-15 third-down conversion rate helped, but Penn State still left quite a few points on the field. Every drive won't end in a touchdown, but at least one drop was the difference between a touchdown and a Sam Ficken field goal.

Michael Zordich proved once again to be viable option running, and catching the ball. Zach Zwinak also surprised a few critics with 94 yards on the ground.

Defense B+: While the Nittany Lions didn't force any turnovers, they only allowed Temple to convert on three third down opportunities and kept the Owl attack in check all game. The only reason this grade is lower than an A is due to the fact Temple had chance to score but missed on some pass connections. If Penn State intends on making a run in conference play, better quarterbacks will make those throws. However, overall the unit once again dominated play and will continue to improve, especially as a few players begin to return from injury.

Special Teams B: Alex Butterworth had two punts downed inside the 20 and Ficken connected on all of his kicks. While these might seem like small things for some teams, Penn State has proven early on that every positive in the kicking game is a huge step forward. 

Jess Della Valle also had several nice punt returns including a 29-yard scamper past several Temple defenders. The unit as a whole played it's best game Saturday and should use that as a stepping stone towards greater consistency.

MVP: McGloin was stellar in his play Saturday, breaking the 300-yard mark and 1,000 yards on the season. McGloin is well on track to break all of his personal bests and is legitimately in the conversation as one of the conferences' best signal callers.

Final Word: Penn State will head on the road next weekend to open Big Ten play. While Illinois has struggled mightily this year, a Penn State win on the road to open conference play could do wonders for the season. The Nittany Lions continue to get better, and another week of improvements could spell a happy flight home next weekend.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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