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 STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -There's a different vibe around unbeaten Penn State this week.
The talk about off-field troubles has disappeared. Coach Joe Paterno's right leg is still sore but he's proved it won't keep him from pacing the sideline. The ``Spread HD'' offense is humming along so well, fans are getting used to scores in the 30s and 40s.
No, this week, the blue-and-white faithful are talking up No. 6 Penn State's chances in the Big Ten and, possibly, in the national championship race - not that Paterno wants any part of that discussion.
``I just say, 'Hey, we got Purdue this week,''' Paterno said about his message to his players. ``If you don't pay attention to what's in front of you, all that stuff down the road isn't going to happen.''
JoePa would know - he's won two national titles, after all, in his 43-year head coaching career.
Southern California, Florida and Georgia from the ranks of the unbeaten.
``All you got to do is point to some of the guys that were invincible, that were the greatest college teams in the country at one particular time,'' Paterno said at his weekly news conference at Beaver Stadium. ``All of a sudden, they're not the guys everyone thought they were two, three, four weeks ago.''
Warning heeded. That familiar sports mantra of ``One game at a time'' is ringing through the cavernous football facilities like an echo.
Yet Paterno isn't too worried about players feeling too much pressure, or looking too far ahead into the future. Over the last couple weeks, he has repeatedly talked about how good he feels about his team and its maturity.
``I don't think that's a hard job, not on our squad anyway,'' Paterno said about keeping the team focused. ``Our guys have their heads on pretty good. I think they'll be all right.''
It's a group that has had to deal with different kinds of distractions during their careers, including a string of player suspensions since April 2007, and the for-now dormant controversy surrounding Paterno's contract, which is up after this season.
And that sore leg? Not to worry.
t,'' quipped Paterno, who winced slightly afterward when he descended three small steps down from the dais.
Injuries have also taken a toll on key players. Most recently, the offense played Saturday night without leading receiver Jordan Norwood, who tweaked his left hamstring. Norwood did some jogging and sprints at practice Monday, and Paterno said he thought Norwood might be OK for the game against the Boilermakers.
Otherwise, the Nittany Lions have enough flaws to keep them occupied on getting better for Purdue.
Penn State has fumbled 13 times over the last four games, but has been fortunate enough to only lose five.
And the Nittany Lions came up with just one sack against Illinois, a stat that defensive tackle Jared Odrick said will likely need to improve to have success against pass-happy Purdue and quarterback Curtis Painter.
In a meeting this week, offensive line coach Bill Kenney told his players to take Saturday's game as if Penn State had an 0-0 record, left tackle Gerald Cadogan said.
``We're taking it weekly,'' he added. ``Everybody has bought into that program.''
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