Penn State scored on three consecutive possessions to start the game and took a 17-14 lead early in the second quarter.
And despite the Wildcats striking early -- Mike Jensen's forced fumble on the opening kickoff led to Persa's one-yard touchdown run -- it seemed the Wildcats didn't have a chance to do what has plagued them all season: blow a lead in the second half.
Leading 24-20 in the closing seconds of the first half, Penn State running back Stephfon Green scored on a one-yard run to give the Nittany Lions a 27-24 lead going into the break.
Defensively, the Wildcats are one of the worst in the Big Ten, ranking last in pass defense and 10th in total defense. That could explain how many points the Wildcats gave up in the first half and it could also explain a defensive shakeup prior to game time.
It seemed like coach Pat Fitzgerald and defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz had to do something. So hoping to shake things up after several poor defensive performances in a row, Fitzgerald and his staff shook up the linebacker corps, defensive line and secondary against the Nittany Lions.
Injuries to defensive lineman Tyler Scott (neck stinger) and linebacker Bryce McNaul (back spasms) had Kevin Watt starting at defensive end and Chi Chi Ariguzo at outside linebacker. McNaul, despite his injury, was able to see some action.
But in the shaking things up department, Quentin Williams started in place of Vince Browne at one defensive end, Damien Proby started at middle linebacker instead of David Nwabuisi and David Arnold started at safety instead of redshirt freshman Ibraheim Campbell.