STATE COLLEGE - On Saturday, Penn State welcomed back its 1986 National Championship team and honored them at halftime.
The Nittany Lions treated them to a victory, using a strong defensive effort to post a 13-3 win over Iowa.
Lions' quarterback Matt McGloin felt good about the victory. However, in his opinion, he felt it "shouldn't have been that close of a football game."
"We were in the redzone plenty and we just couldn't produce," said McGloin, who helped spark the Lions to a win in the team's Big Ten home opener. "We don't have a problem moving the ball up-and-down the field, but we don't find the necessary means to finish.
"I'm not sure what the problem is. But, we're happy with the win. We'll just go back to the drawing board on Monday and figure out what's going wrong."
Twice in the first half, the Lions were well within the redzone at the two-yardline in the first quarter and the three-yardline in the second quarter and settled for field goals.
The Lions held a baseball-type lead of 6-3 at halftime.
After watching two possession end with punts to start the second half, Lions' head coach Joe Paterno and his staff decided to put together a drive stritcly pounding the ball down the Hawkeyes' throat on the ground.
After Nate Supar recovered a fumble on the Hawkeyes' side of the field, McGloin got Silas Redd, Joe Suhey and Curtis Dukes heavily involved in producing the Lions' most successful drive on the day. Redd took five carries for 30 yards, Dukes took three for 20 and Suhey covered seven yards on two carries to set the the host up well within reach of six-points.
"We came into the game not quite sure we could run, but we had talked and the guys felt that we could wear them down a little bit," Paterno said. "It wasn't a question of all-of-a-sudden we couldn't run. We had run the ball pretty good, but we missed out on the opportunities.
"I thought we did a better job blocking later in the game, some of the younger backs are getting a better feel for holes. I thought (Silas) Redd had a pretty good game. Overall, I'm pleased, but as I keep saying we have a ways to go."
Instead of trying to cap the drive with a run though, especially with Redd compiling a career day of 142 yards on the ground, the Lions' went to an alternate option. McGloin rolled out after initiating a fake handoff to Redd and found Ken Haplea in the back of the endzone for a touchdown.
The score gave Penn State a 13-3 lead after Anthony Fera kicked the extra point.
"We repped it all week during practice and we were confident in that play," said Haplea, who hauled in his first career touchdown reception with that play. "It was just a quick block and release.
"Matt (McGloin) got flushed out and I got open just in time for him to put it on me. I was definitely excited about that play being called and that it worked out the way it did."
After that, the Lions' defensive unit finished off its dominating performance.
Six plays into Iowa's next drive, the Lions' Malcolm Willis intercepted a pass by the Hawkeyes' James Vandeberg, who prior to this contest led the Big Ten with an average 281.1 yard passing per game.
After Penn State went four-and-out, Nick Sukay intercepted another Vandeberg pass.
On Iowa's final possession, the Penn State defense made it simply impossible for the visitors to do anything. The Lions defense recorded three straight sacks Sean Stanley, Devon Still, and a half-sack by Khairi Fortt and Eric Latimore. In the process, it pushed the Hawkeyes' into a 4th and 39. The Lions took the ball over on downs and ran out the clock.
Still, who finished with six tackles, one-and-a-half tackles for losses and a sack, stated it was the Lions' defense just doing their job.
The 6-foot, 5-inch, 310-pound defensive tackle stated the Lions (5-1 overall; 2-0 Big Ten) were making a point to the rest of the nation in this win.
"Our offense had us pumped up the whole game," Devon Still said. "They were finally able to move the ball and were able to put some points on the board. We were just doing whatever we could to make sure that we came out with the win.
"We have been going out there every week trying to prove that we are not just one of the best defenses in the Big Ten, but one of the best defenses in the country."
NITTANY LINES .... Penn State won its 250th game in Beaver Stadium with the win against Iowa ... The Nittany Lions improve to 250-62 at Beaver Stadium since it opened in 1960 ... The win moves the Lions to 50-23 in Happy Valley since joining the Big Ten in 1993.