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Penn State's defense made certain there would be no upset this time for Michigan State.

David Macklin and Anthony King returned interceptions for touchdowns, and Courtney Brown and Mac Morrison each had two of the Nittany Lions' seven sacks as No. 23 Penn State beat the Spartans, 51-28, Saturday.

Penn State avenged last year's 49-14 loss to Michigan State, which had two 200-yard rushers that day.

This year, Penn State had the big back. Eric McCoo rushed for 206 yards and one touchdown, and Travis Forney kicked a career-high five field goals as the Lions (8-3 overall, 5-3 in the Big Ten Conference) strengthened their case for an eighth straight Jan. 1 bowl.

They have a chance to go to the Outback Bowl after finishing their home schedule unbeaten for the first time since 1994.

"This wasn't our goal, to be 8-3. We're just anxious to get a New Year's Day bowl game, get a good opponent and just give a good showing," said center Eric Cole.

Coach Joe Paterno said the Lions wanted to make amends for last year's rout.

"I think their pride was hurt last year, particularly the defensive kids," Paterno said. "We were more aggressive and we were able to do a better job of stopping the run. They've played with emotion."

Michigan State (6-6, 4-4) beat Notre Dame and then-No. 1 Ohio State this year, but still didn't qualify for a bowl.

"We're not a 6-6 team," said Sedrick Irvin, who rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown. "People might think I'm crazy for saying this, but this is a Top 15 team. The ball just didn't bounce our way this season."

Macklin picked off a pass by Bill Burke and ran it back 55 yards for his first career TD in the first quarter to put Penn State ahead, 21-7. King's 25-yard interception return came on Michigan State's first series of the second half and put the Lions in front, 42-14.

"Their rush and the hits they made affected him," Spartans coach Nick Saban said of Burke. "When you affect the quarterback like they did today, sometimes it gets you out of synch."

LaVar Arrington tipped another pass by Burke in the first quarter, and Brandon Short picked it off to set up the first of Mike Cerimele's two touchdowns.

Penn State's seven sacks gave the team 47 this season, tying the school record.

Burke finished 17 of 44 for 286 yards and two touchdowns, but most of that came with the game decided. Irvin got 44 yards on Michigan State's first drive, but managed only 32 yards the rest of the game against a defense that has not allowed a back to rush for 100 yards this season.

Cerimele's TD runs covered 2 and 31 yards. Forney booted a pair of 37-yard field goals along with kicks from 22, 40 and 23 yards.

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