Nittany Lions host Northwestern as Paterno seeks 400th win

November 05, 2010

University Park, Pa. — Penn State will look to maintain its momentum and try to achieve a historic victory on Saturday when it hosts Northwestern in a pivotal clash of teams tied in the Big Ten standings. The game, which is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff in Beaver Stadium, will air on ABC (ESPN2 in outer markets), the Penn State Sports Network and www.GoPSUsports.com

Penn State head coach Joe Paterno will have his initial opportunity to become the first Football Bowl Subdivision (Div. I-A) coach to win 400 games on Saturday against the Wildcats (6-2, 2-2). In his 45th season at the helm of the Nittany Lion program, he owns a career record of 399-132-3 for a winning percentage of 75.0.

Winners of its last two Big Ten games, Penn State (5-3, 2-2) also is looking to become bowl eligible for the 37th time under the Hall of Fame coach.

A limited number of tickets for the Northwestern contest are available at www.GoPSUsports.com or by calling 814-865-5555 Friday from 10 a.m-6 p.m. Tickets also will be available at the Beaver Stadium ticket office, adjacent to Gate E, starting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Penn State holds a 5-1 home record versus the Wildcats, but the teams have not met in Beaver Stadium since 2006. The Nittany Lions lead the series with Northwestern, 10-3, winning three straight, including last year's 34-13 victory in Evanston. The squads will be in different Big Ten divisions starting in 2011 but are scheduled to meet the next two years.

In order to earn a fourth straight win over Northwestern, Penn State will have to confront a team that has won all four of its road games this season and is 8-2 in Big Ten away games the last three years.

A week after gaining bowl eligibility for the fourth straight season and extending its road winning streak to six games with a 20-17 victory at Indiana, Coach Pat Fitzgerald's Northwestern squad will be seeking the program's second victory in Beaver Stadium.

Junior quarterback Dan Persa fuels the Big Ten's No. 2-ranked passing offense. The dual threat signal caller leads the Wildcats in passing (2,062 yards, 12 TDs) and rushing (360 yards, 6 TDs) and ranks second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game (257.8) and third in total offense (302.8 ypg).

Persa, who has completed 74.4 percent of his passes and thrown just three interceptions this season, has linked up with junior Jeremy Ebert, the Big Ten's leader in receiving yards per game, on 42 passes for 678 yards and seven touchdowns. Redshirt freshman running back Mike Trumpy became the first Wildcat since 2008, a span of 21 games, to eclipse the 100-yard barrier on the ground when he rushed for 110 versus Indiana.

Junior safety Brian Peters is Northwestern's leader in solo tackles (38) and total stops (52). The linebacking corps is headlined by Nate Williams and Quentin Davie. Williams ranks second in solo (34) and total tackles (51) while Davie tops NU with three interceptions. Up front, junior Vince Browne, with six sacks, nine tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles, anchors the defensive line.

Senior tailback Evan Royster (Fairfax, Va.) broke Penn State's all-time rushing record and redshirt sophomore quarterback Matt McGloin (Scranton) delivered a strong performance in his first career start to lift the Nittany Lions to a 41-31 shootout victory over Michigan last Saturday night in Beaver Stadium.

Royster rushed for 150 yards on a career-high 29 carries and two touchdowns, eclipsing Curt Warner's record on a 20-yard run in the first quarter. McGloin shined in becoming the first former walk-on quarterback to start under Joe Paterno, completing 17-of-28 passes for 250 yards with one touchdown, a 20-yard strike to senior wide receiver Graham Zug (Manheim) in the second quarter. He also ran for a one-yard score.

The Nittany Lions earned season-highs of 27 first downs, 37:29 in time of possession and 10 of 16 on third down conversions against the Wolverines, while their 435 yards of total offense was second-highest this year.

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La.) made a career-high 10 tackles and redshirt junior safety Drew Astorino (Edinboro) recorded eight stops and a career-best three pass break-ups to pace the Penn State defense.

Following the Northwestern game, Penn State will travel to Columbus to battle No. 8 Ohio State at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 in Ohio Stadium. The clash of border rivals will be regionally broadcast on ABC (ESPN in outer markets). The Buckeyes hold a slim 13-12 series lead, with the visiting team winning the last three meetings.

  • A win Saturday would make Joe Paterno the first FBS coach to reach 400 career victories.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010