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2012 College Football Week 6 Recap, Analysis: Penn State vs. Northwestern

Northwestern walked into Happy Valley an undefeated football team. They walk out with their first loss of the year after Penn State scored 39 points on the 24th ranked Wildcats.

Penn State has put together 4 consecutive victories after losing their first two games of the season. They’ve outscored their last four opponents 132 to 55, staggering numbers for a football program in shock just a few months ago.

Senior quarterback Matt McGloin completed a career high 35 passes for 282 yards and 2 touchdowns. The senior quarterback has become one of the leaders of the team, much due to his poise during the hardest time in Penn State football history.

Much of the credit for McGloin’s successes this year belongs to first year head coach, Bill O’Brien. The surefire coach of the year candidate has taken a program filled with turmoil and turned it into a winning football program once again.

When the season started 6 weeks ago, the featured running back was set to be sophomore Bill Belton, however Zach Zwinak has led the team in carries and is taking over the responsibilities of a featured back.

Last year, Zwinak rushed the ball 3 times for 7 yards and no touchdowns in an offense where the star was running back Silas Redd, now with the University of Southern California.

Since the departure of Redd, it’s clear to see Zwinak has taken on a new role, and is shining in this Nittany Lion’s offense.

Zwinak carried the ball 28 times for 121 yards and a touchdown in an upset victory over the Northwestern Wildcats. He is averaging 4.9 yards a carry this season and has taken the ball into the end-zone twice for Penn State.

With the emergence of quarterback Matt McGloin, the Nittany Lions needed to add a threat at running back and Zwinak appears to be that threat. Bill O’Brien has installed a new offensive system that features multiple running backs and tight ends, amongst those running backs Zwinak has emerged as the leader.

With his season totals reaching 196 yards on 40 attempts, the sophomore running back has lead the rushing attack for the Penn State offense. He added 6 receptions for 52 yards to his career day.

The Nittany lions have surprised many this season.  The team that started 0-2 has become a distant memory, instead the team that has won 4 consecutive games is all the fan base can talk about. Bill O’Brien, after winning 4 consecutive games, continues to emerge as a potential coach of the year. Something Penn State fans hope to see.

The season is still young, but through 6 weeks Penn State is appearing as a tough team to contend with in the Big Ten. They have a bye week next weekend prior to taking on Iowa on October 20th.

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