STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -A master at talking up an opponent, Joe Paterno stayed true to form Tuesday when assessing Penn State's next foe.
Temple will be a decided underdog when the Nittany Lions play the Owls on Saturday in Philadelphia for the first time since 1994.
Yet Paterno remains wary, in part, because of where the nonconference game falls on the schedule, sandwiched between a 26-19 win over Purdue last week and the regular-season finale Nov. 17 at Michigan State.
``I don't like playing Temple in the 11th game of the year, away from home,'' Paterno said at his weekly news conference at Beaver Stadium. ``I think we better be very, very careful. We have to play a good, solid football game or Temple will beat us.''
It's an outcome not out of the question in this wild college football season full of shocking upsets.
To its favor, Penn State (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) heads to Lincoln Financial Field with renewed confidence after the Nittany Lions' defense held the Boilermakers' offense without a touchdown. The Penn State offense played one of its most complete games of the season.
The kickoff coverage against Purdue, though, left Paterno less than thrilled. The Nittany Lions allowed Dorien Bryant two long returns, including a touchdown that was the second allowed this season by the Penn State kick coverage unit.
``Oh, boy,'' JoePa uttered before looking down at the podium after a reporter mentioned the words ``kickoff coverage'' in a question.
``We had a long, tough meeting this morning,'' Paterno said. ``It's one area we should be better at, and we've worked hard on it and yeah, we've got to do a better job.
``We've got to get better football players on that coverage team.''
There are several connections between Temple and Penn State. Second-year Owls head coach Al Golden played tight end at Penn State from 1987-91, and served as linebackers coach under Paterno in 2000. Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio (1988-91) and quarterbacks coach Matt Rhule (1994-97) both played linebacker under JoePa.
``They're a team that he's done a good job with and I'm proud of Al'' and his staff, Paterno said.
Also, Temple was coached by former Paterno assistant Ron Dickerson the last time the Nittany Lions played the Owls in Philadelphia, a 48-21 Penn State win at Franklin Field.
Paterno said he had advised Golden and Dickerson initially against taking the Temple job.
He said he specifically told Dickerson, who is black, ``Ron, black coaches have got to get good jobs. They can't turn bad jobs around all the time.'' Dickerson, at the time, had been wooed by several Temple officials and graduates, including comedian Bill Cosby, Paterno said.
Asked to expand on his comment, Paterno said he had been advising Dickerson about how working at Temple might affect his career, and whether the school at the time would make enough of a commitment to football.
``Ron Dickerson was eventually going to have two, three, four jobs? I didn't want him taking jobs that I didn't think he could have success with, period, as simple as that,'' Paterno said.
The Owls appear to be improving, though, under another Penn State alum. Temple is 3-6 this season after going 1-11 last year, Golden's first season at the helm.

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