While Penn State's offense has run the ball relatively well in its last two games against Nebraska and Ohio State, racking up 166 and 239 yards in each game respectively, the Nittany Lions have struggled mightily in some critical short yardage situations.
Against Nebraska, Penn State faced a 4th-and-1 with under two minutes to play in the game, trailing by three points. Quarterback Matthew McGloin handed off to running back Silas Redd, who was stuffed on the left side for no gain. Nebraska took the ball on downs and held on to deal Penn State its first Big Ten loss of the season.
Against Ohio State, the Lions had a 1st-and-goal from the Buckeyes' 2-yardline and failed to score after two fullback runs by Michael Zordich, a quarterback sneak by McGloin and a dive attempt by Redd. A touchdown would have made the score 27-14 late in the second half, but instead, Ohio State was allowed to hang around in what would be a one-possession game to the final gun.
This week, Penn State interim head coach Tom Bradley said he hopes to correct some of those problems as his team prepares to take on Wisconsin in the de facto Big Ten Leaders Division championship game this weekend.
"In crucial situations, we've got to get things done," Bradley told reporters at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. "We've got to be mentally smart down on the goal line. I told the players before the game everybody's got to man up. That includes me. I told them on second down, I said, 'It's done. Fourth down, you're going for it. I'm not going to flinch.' I thought that was a chance for us to put the game away."