Penn State got the outcome it wanted, just not in the game it wanted to play.
Rashard Casey passed for a touchdown and ran for one as No. 13 Penn State, ending a three-game losing streak that cost it a possible shot at the national title, defeated No. 18 Texas A&M, 24-0, tonight in the Alamo Bowl.
"It seemed like a Hollywood script," all-American linebacker LaVar Arrington (14 tackles) said after Penn State's first shutout of the season. "It's too bad it's too late to show what we had--but better late than never."
Penn State (10-3) sent longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky into retirement with a strong performance, holding Texas A&M to 80 net yards rushing and 122 yards passing.
"We played like a Penn State defense," said Sandusky, the defensive coordinator since 1977. "We bent, but we didn't break, and people made plays in the clutch. That is what did it. And that's symbolic of the way we played so many, many times."
The defense had carried Penn State to a 9-0 start and a No. 2 national ranking, before the team's title hopes were dashed by losses to Minnesota, Michigan and Michigan State.
Penn State avoided what could have been the first four-game losing streak in Joe Paterno's 34-year career as coach.
As the Lions received their Alamo Bowl trophy, Paterno praised his players and the Penn State fans who traveled to Texas.
"It was a great effort by our team, and I'm very, very proud of them," he said. "Let's go get a shower and have fun tonight, guys!"
Penn State jumped to a 14-0 lead by halftime, then added another touchdown when Casey ran in for the score from the 4 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
A 39-yard field goal by Travis Forney pushed the Lions' lead to 24-0.
Casey, in his first start of the year, was 8 of 16 for 146 yards and Penn State added 175 yards rushing.
Randy McCown of Texas A&M was 13 for 22 for 105 passing yards but threw four interceptions, matching the career high he threw in a loss to Nebraska this season. McCown was sacked three times.
"It was tough to stay positive," McCown said. "We wanted to get a good start and we didn't. You're not going to win many football games playing like that."
The defeat ended a season of tragedy for Texas A&M (8-4), whose players wore a helmet decal honoring the students killed in the Nov. 18 bonfire log collapse on campus that killed 12 and injured 27.