Joe Paterno, meet Andy Reid, who can fill you in on the predicament of having two good quarterbacks ready to go when only one can play at a time.

Whereas the Eagles' coach has "Michael Kolb," as he likes to refer to quarterbacks Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb, Paterno has "Rob McGloin." Or is it "Matt Bolden?"

Matt McGloin, a redshirt sophomore and former walk-on making his first career start, directed Penn State's best offensive performance of the season Saturday night, a 41-31 victory over Michigan that put new life in the Nittany Lions' season.

McGloin did everything Paterno wanted him to do. He threw for 250 yards, a season high for the Lions. He helped convert 10 of 16 third-down opportunities. Under his guidance, the offense didn't commit a single turnover and held the ball for nearly 371/2 minutes, keeping it away from Michigan's dangerous Denard Robinson.

Just as important, the Lions (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten) played with energy and enthusiasm, two traits that describe McGloin. Whether it was his leadership or the fact that it was a night game against a rival in front of more than 108,000 fans at Beaver Stadium, the home team showed plenty of spirit, something it had been lacking for much of the season.

McGloin filled in for freshman Rob Bolden, who sat out as a precautionary measure after suffering symptoms related to a concussion in the previous week's game against Minnesota.

According to numerous reports, Bolden passed medical testing on Wednesday and took some snaps in practice later in the week. He warmed up with his teammates before Saturday night's game but doctors advised him not to play.

Bolden likely will be able to return for the Nittany Lions' home contest Saturday against Northwestern, in which Paterno will attempt to become the third coach in NCAA history with 400 career victories.

So does Bolden start, or does Paterno stick with the hot hand in McGloin?

"I haven't got the slightest idea," the 83-year-old coach said after the game. "Let me enjoy this one first."

The coach's son, quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno, said Bolden would start if healthy.

"It's Rob Bolden's job," the younger Paterno said. "That's the great thing. . . . We've got two guys who can go into a big-time environment and make plays."

Before he was knocked out of the Minnesota contest, Bolden had completed his first nine passes and went 11 of 13 overall for 130 yards and one touchdown, a reflection of his work and development during Penn State's bye week.

The first true freshman to start an opener for Paterno, Bolden is considered quiet and reserved, and had been urged by his teammates earlier this season to speak more loudly in the huddle. McGloin, who is more than two years older than Bolden, is more talkative and shows his emotions more.

McGloin, who had dropped from a contender for the starter's job in preseason to third string, relieved Bolden in the previous week and rallied the Nittany Lions to victory, then showed what he could do with a full week of practice and preparation.

Evaluating McGloin's performance against Michigan, Joe Paterno said, "He had a lot of poise.

"That's about as well as we can play," he said. "We did a lot of good things and I think Matt had a lot to do with it."

McGloin, who competed 17 of 28 pass attempts, said he had gone through a great week of practice and was ready, and so was the team.

"The whole week, the confidence level was just super-high," he said. "The players believed in me, the coaches believed in me, and I believed in them as well, and it really showed."

For the game, the Wolverines' defense looked like a group that had come into the game ranked 117th against the pass and 104th in total yards allowed. So McGloin and the offense had no problem moving the football.

That included senior Evan Royster, who ran for 150 yards on 29 carries to break Curt Warner's career rushing record of 3,398 yards set from 1979 through 1982. Royster finished the game with 3,518, and has four regular-season games remaining.

So now the decision on a starting quarterback for Saturday rests with Paterno, who is expected to make his first comments on the situation at his regular Tuesday teleconference with the media.

Game at 3:30. Team officials announced that the Penn State-Northwestern game will start at 3:30 p.m. It will be televised locally on 6ABC.

The Road Ahead

With Saturday night's victory over Michigan, Penn State (5-3 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) is one win away from becoming bowl-eligible and getting Joe Paterno to 400 victories for his career. Here is its remaining schedule:

Saturday: Northwestern (6-2, 2-2), 3:30 p.m.

Nov. 13: at No. 8 Ohio State (8-1, 4-1), TBA

Nov. 20: vs. Indiana (4-4, 0-4) in Landover, Md., TBA

Nov. 27: No. 16 Michigan State (8-1, 4-1), TBA

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Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com.