McPherson himself preferred to talk about his passing. "I had a lot to say to a lot of people out there today," he said. "I showed myself and everyone else that I could stay in the pocket and make things work. I showed that I could manipulate a defense."
George Young, the New York Giants' general manager, agreed with that assessment: "He was poised and collected, and he kept doing the right things. There was none of that running around and scrambling when things got out of hand. He threw it hard when it needed to be thrown hard, and he threw it soft when it needed to be soft."
McPherson's second touchdown pass, early in the second quarter, was fired into the teeth of a Penn State blitz. Settling under the center on third down at the Nittany Lions' 29-yard line, he read the eyes of the Penn State linebackers, considered his receiving options, then calmly lofted a pass to Kane who made a marvelous catch in the end zone. That made the score 20-0.
Any thought that the Lions were capable of playing catch-up was squashed on their next possession. Penn State, which had but one first down and 11 yards in total offense in the first quarter, now drove to the Syracuse 35, at which point quarterback Matt Knizner threw a pass intended for Michael Timpson in the end zone. As one official inexplicably lifted his arms to signal a touchdown, Syracuse cornerback Chris Ingram intercepted the ball.
For the Nittany Lions things then went from bad to ludicrous. With the Orangemen leading 34-0 in the third quarter, Penn State was caught by surprise as Syracuse fullback Daryl Johnston quick-kicked on third-and-eight. As the 68-yard punt was rolling to a stop at the Lion 20, Penn State safety Marques Henderson, who was positioned close to the football, launched a fierce but senseless block on halfback Robert Drummond. While doing so, he inadvertently kicked the ball. Drummond happily fell on it for a fumble recovery.
On the next play McPherson, trailed by Drummond, ran the option to the left. As Chizmar sped up from his safety position, McPherson faked a pitch. Taking the bait, Chizmar went for Drummond, and McPherson went for the end zone. That made it 41-0. Penn State was able to score in double figures only because MacPherson let a lot of his reserves see action.
The last time the Orangemen were 6-0 was in 1959, the year they went on to become national champions. No, no one at Syracuse is talking national title yet, but the win over the Lions did serve to alert the Carrier Dome faithful that the Orange may once again be more than a basketball power. "I'm just happy that people are now remembering that we play football," said Larry Kimball, the Syracuse sports information director.
They may soon have more to remember than that. With Pitt and Boston College the only threats left on the Orangemen's schedule, the school that produced illustrious running backs Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance, Floyd Little, Larry Csonka and Joe Morris just might follow its running quarterback to a perfect season.