Penn State started off slowly, and Northwestern took advantage. The Wildcats pushed an up-tempo style on their first two drives, and ended each of the drives with a touchdown to jump out to a Beaver Stadium-silencing 14-3 lead midway through the first quarter.
Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian was sharp in the first quarter, completing 11 of 15 passes for 150 yards and setting up the Wildcats for a pair of early touchdowns. Siemian actually scored both from short yardage, but the third time Northwestern was down close head coach Pat Fitzgerald opted to try a fake field goal. It did not work, but the Wildcats were showing some real energy.
It took Penn State a full 15 minutes to pick up a first down, with the final play of the quarter seeing Christian Hackenberg complete a pass on 3rd and 2 for the first down. That came on the drive immediately following a failed fake field goal attempt by the Wildcats that was stuffed by Penn State linebacker Mike Hull.
Things got so desperate for Penn State that James Franklin chose to go for it on a fourth and short from Penn State’s own 30-yard line in the second quarter. It paid off and Hackenberg was able to complete a deep pass down field, but the drive still ended without any points. Sam Ficken‘s field goal attempt was blocked. He would kick a late half field goal to finally put Penn State on the scoreboard.
Penn State deferred on the opening kickoff to start the game. Look to see if they try to strike quick out of the half.