VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Postgame Locker Room & Interview
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are at their best when they play complementary football.
Saturday's dominant 34-9 victory at Purdue was a living, breathing example of what Bill O'Brien means when he speaks to the tune of how execution on offense, defense and special teams, when feeding off one another, puts the Lions in a position to win week after week.
The Nittany Lions limited the Boilers to a season-low nine points with a stifling defensive performance. On offense, Penn State tallied a season-high 506 yards. The big-picture stats speak for themselves, but they only tell part of the complementary football story from Saturday's road win.
"I thought these guys played with a sense of urgency; they played with a lot of energy," Coach O'Brien said. "We brought our own energy today, and I have said that from day one - this is a team that loves to play football. They love to play for each other (in all phases)."
Penn State's execution in all three phases of the game contributed to its third-straight Big Ten road win.
On defense, the Lions yielded three points to Purdue on its opening drive. The Boilers did not score again until the final play of the game.
On offense, Matt McGloin's 321 passing yards, Zach Zwinak's career-best 134 rushing yards and Brandon-Moseby-Felder's career-high 129 receiving yards headlined a season-best 506-yard performance.
On special teams, Sam Ficken drilled both of his field goal attempts, Alex Butterworth was consistent punting the ball all day game long in windy conditions and senior Derek Day's career-high four special teams tackles headlined a strong day for the coverage teams.
"It felt really good to play as one unit," sophomore guard Miles Dieffenbach said. "We really played complementary football. Our defense played well. They gave us the ball in good positions. We had very good field position. We were clicking, and it felt really good."
The Nittany Lions allowed 49 yards during Purdue's opening drive, which ended in a field goal. From there, Penn State made adjustments on the sideline and buckled down in the first half. Purdue only managed 80 more yards on its next eight possessions in the half.
"We knew what they were going to come in here and try to do," senior linebacker Michael Mauti. "I'm not sure exactly what happened on the big play (that led to the field goal), but we got it corrected and we moved forward."
The Lions were stopped on downs during their first offensive possession, but a Ficken field goal and a two-play, 48-yard touchdown drive kick-started a 20-point half. A 42-yard completion from McGloin to Moseby-Felder fueled the 48-yard scoring drive, a connection in the passing game that turned into a theme for the day.
"Brandon did a great job getting open today," McGloin said. "He has made some big steps for us this season. He is really getting comfortable for us at the wide out position."
Moseby-Felder made a career-high six catches, including the first touchdown of his career. He was just one of long list of contributors on dominant day for the Nittany Lion offense.
"Things were clicking today for the offense," McGloin said. "We moved the ball up and down the field after some adjustments. Hopefully that carries into Nebraska next week."
The Nittany Lions head into this week's road game at No. 16 Nebraska averaging 33.8 points per game in Big Ten play (2nd). Penn State has scored at least 34 points in four of the five conference games this season. Defensively, the Lions rank third in points against in Big Ten play (18.6 points per game), and third in total defense (317.8 ypg).
When the Nittany Lions play well in all three phases of the game, like they did on Saturday, complementary football is a recipe for success.
The Lions, who are off to a 3-0 start to Big Ten road games for seventh time, will meet Legends Division co-leader Nebraska at Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
Complementary Football Fuels Lions in Rout of Purdue
VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Postgame Locker Room & Interview
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