Best in Big Ten?
With Penn State putting on an anemic offensive display on its way to an ugly road loss, a broken right leg added injury to the insult of Joe Paterno's last trip to Camp Randall Stadium.
Paterno's hurting again as he heads back to Madison, but this time his offense appears to be doing just fine.
The sixth-ranked Nittany Lions bring the Big Ten's most explosive offense into Wisconsin on Saturday night for a showdown with the Badgers, who are desperately looking to avoid an 0-3 conference start.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Penn State -5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Penn State -5 View College Football bet percentages).
Paterno has a sore right hip he suffered while trying to attempt an onside kick in practice a few weeks ago, an injury that forced the legendary head coach to view last week's 20-6 win at Purdue from the press box. He said Tuesday he'll wait to see how his leg feels on Saturday before deciding where to coach at Camp Randall.
"Actually, as far as making a significant contribution to the strategy side and on the tactical side, you're better off upstairs," Paterno said. "You can see more. But you like to be on the field, down there, get a feel what's going on."
Paterno's left leg was the story when Penn State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) last traveled to Madison. His shin bone was fractured in a sideline collision on Nov. 4, 2006, as the Nittany Lions put up just 201 yards of offense in a 13-3 loss to the then 17th-ranked Badgers.
Wherever Paterno, 81, has been watching the Nittany Lions this season, he's witnessed the Big Ten's best offense. Penn State is averaging 499.7 yards through six games - ninth-best in the nation - and has scored 44.8 points per game to rank seventh in the country.
Quarterback Daryll Clark and tailback Evan Royster have led the way. Clark leads the conference with a 162.5 passer rating through six games, throwing nine touchdowns and one interception. Royster, meanwhile, has eight touchdowns on just 84 carries and a 7.8 yards-per-carry average that ranks eighth in the nation.
Clark threw for a season-high 220 yards and Royster tied a season-high with 141 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Boilermakers.
"They're a great team and they have a great quarterback, a great corps of receivers that can run," Wisconsin cornerback Allen Langford said. "They have a great tight end and two good running backs ... so they're definitely going to be a difficult task."
The Badgers (3-2, 0-2) were among the preseason favorites to win the Big Ten, but instead they're on the verge of their third 0-3 start in the conference since 2000.
Wisconsin blew a 19-0 lead at Michigan on Sept. 27, losing 27-25, then coughed up a four-point lead midway through the fourth quarter Saturday at home against Ohio State. Terrelle Pryor led the Buckeyes on an 80-yard drive that culminated with an 11-yard run by the freshman quarterback to hand the Badgers a 20-17 loss.
"The expectations are high on this team, and we'd like them to be high," coach Bret Bielema said. "And we're five points away from being a 5-0 football team.
"We've got a tremendous challenge on our hands and an opportunity to right the ship."
The loss to Ohio State was the Badgers' first in 17 games at Camp Randall, breaking the nation's second-longest home winning streak. They haven't lost consecutive games in Madison since dropping three straight in 2002, including a 34-31 loss to Penn State - the Nittany Lions' only win at Wisconsin since 1996. They've put up six points total in their last two losses there.
But while Paterno's offenses didn't pose much of a threat in those visits, this unit has shown it's more than capable of putting up points. The Lions also lead the Big Ten in total defense, allowing 250.3 yards per game.
"I think we're playing good, solid defense," Paterno said. "I think most of the teams we've played, we've measured up to and could handle what they were doing. (This week) is a little different."
Penn State's defensive front will get a big test from a veteran Wisconsin offensive line that's paving the way for 210.6 yards per game, with P.J. Hill and John Clay getting a majority of the carries.
The Badgers, though, need more consistent play from Allan Evridge, whose starting status has come into question with poor play the last few weeks. The transfer from Kansas State and first-year starter has completed just 53.2 percent of his passes in his last two games and has thrown three interceptions.
"The bottom line is we've got to expect the ball to be delivered with better accuracy," Bielema said.
Penn State has started conference play 3-0 just once since 2000.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
WISCONSIN is 7-4 against the spread versus PENN ST since 1992
WISCONSIN is 6-5 straight up against PENN ST since 1992
7 of 10 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
WISCONSIN is 1-1 against the spread versus PENN ST over the last 3 seasons
WISCONSIN is 1-1 straight up against PENN ST over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at WISCONSIN since 1992
WISCONSIN is 4-1 against the spread versus PENN ST since 1992
WISCONSIN is 3-2 straight up against PENN ST since 1992
3 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at WISCONSIN over the last 3 seasons.
WISCONSIN is 1-0 against the spread versus PENN ST over the last 3 seasons
WISCONSIN is 1-0 straight up against PENN ST over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[WR] Jordan Norwood missed last game, %27?%27 - Hamstring - 09/28/08
[OL] Doug Klopacz is out for the season - ACL - 09/24/08
[OL] Ako Poti missed last game, %27?%27 - Knee - 09/28/08
[DT] Phillip Taylor dismissed from team. - Dismissed - 08/01/08
[DT] Chris Baker dismissed from team. - Dismissed - 08/01/08
[DT] Devon Still is out for the season. - Ankle - 09/10/08
[LB] Jerome Hayes out for the season - ACL - 09/07/08
[S] Nick Sukay is expected to miss entire season - Foot - 09/01/08
[TE] Garrett Graham missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Ankle - 10/0
[WR] Maurice Moore missed last game %27?%27 - Groin - 09/28/08
[TE] Travis Beckum limited last game, "?". - Hamstring - 09/30/08
[DE] Kirk DeCremer out for the season - Back - 08/31/08
[CB] Aaron Henry is out indefinitely. - Knee - 09/25/08
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