STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -Joe Paterno coaching from the press box may not be such a big deal after all for No. 3 Penn State.
With his team down 17-14 at halftime Saturday to Michigan, the hobbled Hall of Fame coach didn't make it down to the locker room to personally deliver a pep talk, instead relaying messages over a microphone to an assistant coach.
It took a little longer than usual, but Penn State delivered another knockout blow. Thirty-two unanswered points and a dominating second half later, the Nittany Lions (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) stayed perfect and ended a nine-game losing skid to the Wolverines with a 46-17 win.
``In fact, I think some of the kids are going to take a vote, 'When we're home, can you stay on McKee Street?''' Paterno quipped, referring to his house a short drive from Beaver Stadium.
Next up for Penn State: a showdown with No. 10 Ohio State at the Horseshoe that may likely decide who wins the Big Ten and locks up the conference's automatic BCS berth.
a tough one this week,'' Paterno said.
A sore right leg and hip have bothered Paterno since the first week of the season, when he hurt himself while demonstrating an onside kick in practice. He's been relegated to the press box the past three games.
Yet this squad might have the perfect mix of veteran assistants and strong team leadership to withstand the sideline absence of Paterno. It's quieter down there without Paterno using his shrill voice to bark at officials or encourage his players.
That first half might have been the right time for his unique brand of communication.
Michigan (2-5, 1-2) scored all 17 of its points and gained 204 yards of total offense on its first three drives. The struggling spread offense was off to an encouraging start.
Momentum began to fizzle midway through the second quarter, in part after the insertion of Michael Mauti and Bani Gbadyu at linebacker gave Penn State an energetic defensive jolt.
The Nittany Lions D adjusted, and young quarterbacks Steven Threet, a redshirt freshman, and Nick Sheridan, a sophomore, started struggling again. It's a typical storyline this season for the Wolverines.
Michigan's last 11 drives of the game were a disaster: 87 total yards, seven punts and a momentum-shifting safety by defensive tackle Jared Odrick with 4:39 left in the third quarter that put Penn State up for good, 19-17.
execute. It's frustrating when you don't tackle,'' Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. ``A lot of guys played their tails off and played hard. We got something there that we can build on.''
Penn State has been rolling all season even with Paterno hobbled. He has used a cane the last couple weeks, and he has been monitoring practices from a golf cart instead of shuttling back and forth between drills.
``Up until I got this thing, I'd be in there and demonstrating once in a while. I miss that part, but the assistant coaches just picked up, and I'm tough on them,'' Paterno said Saturday night.
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, a Paterno lieutenant for three decades, is the de facto leader on the field when JoePa is upstairs. Veteran defensive line coach Larry Johnson has his unit playing well.
Offensive coordinator Galen Hall, has seen 19 bowl games in his 31 years as coach. Paterno's son and quarterbacks coach, Jay Paterno, has done a good job with breakout star QB Daryll Clark and the Spread HD offense.
If Paterno sees something he doesn't like, he relays the message to his staff. It's exactly what happened at halftime the last three games with Paterno in the box, said center and senior leader A.Q. Shipley.
``We weren't getting yelled at, that was one good thing,'' Shipley said, though the secondhand message from Paterno still got through.

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