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 STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -Joe Paterno made Temple sound as if it was Texas.
He promises to do everything he can to keep No. 16 Penn State from overlooking the Owls, the Nittany Lions' last nonconference foe before Big Ten play begins.
``Talk, rant and rave, that's what you do,'' Paterno said Tuesday, when asked how he would guard against his Nittany Lions from looking too far ahead. ``Threaten all you can.
``Temple will make us earn everything,'' the Hall of Fame coach added. ``You got to go step by step. From now on in, we're going to have to earn everything we get.''
That's saying a lot considering Penn State (3-0) has its conference opener on the horizon - a prime-time showdown against Illinois on Sept. 27 at Beaver Stadium.
First, though, the Nittany Lions have to get through Temple (1-2). If history is any indication, that shouldn't be a problem.
The Owls are 3-33-1 against Penn State, with the last victory coming in 1941 - when the 81-year-old Paterno was just a teenager.
rrent version of the Nittany Lions have outscored opponents by a whopping 43 points per game. Contests against lower-division Coastal Carolina, Oregon State and Syracuse turned into cakewalks.
The results have the blue-and-white faithful feeling giddy about Penn State's chances in the Big Ten - and beyond.
Paterno isn't as rosy, in part because his team hasn't really faced in-game adversity. He's walking the line of building up the confidence of his players on the field and guarding against overconfidence off of it.
That message has apparently stuck with the Nittany Lions.
``This game right here is way more important than what Illinois is going to be,'' receiver Derrick Williams said. ``We have really have to focus on this Temple team. It's another step we have to take to the season we want to have.''
So far, so good. The ``Spread HD'' offense is clicking, scoring 55 points a game.
The defense has shut down opponents too, with Penn State building up such big leads so early in games that most starters have been able to rest on the bench by the fourth quarter.
``Playing fast, getting to the ball. We're showing great signs of improvement each week,'' safety Anthony Scirrotto said. ``That's the most important thing. The schedule gets a little tougher on your bodies ... so we want to keep improving each week.''
osses of several players due to injury or suspension.
Backup tackle Mike Lucian, who was switched over from offensive line before the Syracuse game, injured his left ankle in the win against the Orange but is listed as ``probable'' for the Temple contest.
Still undecided are the fates of suspended linemen Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma, who have been sidelined by Paterno the last two games because of an unspecified off-field issue. They were left off the depth chart for the second straight week.
Paterno offered no detail when asked twice Tuesday about the status of Evans and Koroma.
``It's not going to be helpful any way I answer it,'' Paterno said.
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