Mark Dantonio was Cincinnati's head coach in 2005 when he first got acquainted with Joe Paterno.
``He was joking around with me before the game,'' Dantonio said of meeting the Penn State coach on the field at Beaver Stadium. ``At the end of the game, I knew why he was joking around with me.''
Final score: Penn State 42, Cincinnati 24.
Dantonio is hoping for a better result when his No. 17 Michigan State team travels to No. 7 Penn State on Saturday with at least a share of the Big Ten title on the line. The winner will tie for the championship with No. 10 Ohio State if the Buckeyes can win at home against Michigan.
Paterno turns 82 next month. Dantonio, now 52, can't envision himself lasting nearly that long.
hy he coaches, because the opportunity to impact other peoples' lives is there.''
Michigan State RB Javon Ringer, for one, doesn't expect JoePa to step aside.
``I personally don't think he's going anywhere,'' Ringer said. ``People love to play for him and just be around him. He's a very special character.''
BO AND WOODY BOOK: Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg interviewed nearly 200 people over almost three years, scanned at least 50 books on subjects ranging from football to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and stuffed 13 binders with newspaper and magazine clippings.
The result: ``War As They Knew It, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, And America In A Time Of Unrest.''
Rosenberg said he's most proud of the two types of readers he has reached since the book was published earlier this fall.
``People who knew these two guys extremely well and lived through the era told me I got it right and that they learned new things about them,'' Rosenberg said. ``And people who don't care about football told me they enjoyed the book.''
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Wisconsin S Jay Valai has made several memorable hits this season, including shearing the ``M'' off the Minnesota helmet of Shady Salamon in Saturday's 35-32 win.
But with the big hits comes a growing reputation that Valai, listed at 5-foot-9 but several inches shorter, is lowering his head, leading to helmet-to-helmet hits.
Ohio State fans grumbled that Valai's big hits were illegal after he knocked out both TB Dan Herron and WR Dane Sanzenbacher in a game in October. Coach Jim Tressel sent a tape to Big Ten officials and even Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema acknowledged one of the hits was questionable.
The next week, Valai took out Indiana QB Ben Chappell, who also left with a head injury. None of the plays was flagged for a personal foul.
``Jay's really changed,'' Bielema said of the hit on Chappell. ``You slow that (film) down, that's his shoulder that he's lowering in there.''
The Big Ten has spoken out about helmet-to-helmet hits and hits to the head in general, but a conference spokesman said this week that the number of personal fouls called for that type of contact is not tracked.
Bielema says he's seen more horse-collar calls when reviewing film and that he'd rather officials flag plays that involve questionable hits that could lead to injury.
``You've got to be real precise on what you're looking at, and anything that involves player safety, I'm all for it,'' Bielema said.
TOUGH GUY: Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald likes the play of Illinois LB Brit Miller, the Big Ten's leading tackler with 124. It turns out that Miller and some of the Illini have a soft spot for Fitzgerald, too.
got ready to face Illinois Saturday at home. ``He has a knack for rushing the passer and he's definitely a young man who if he's on the All-Big Ten ballot I'm going to vote for him.''
Miller said the compliment, when passed along by a reporter, made him smile, especially coming from Fitzgerald, a Northwestern linebacker in the mid-1990s.
``He came from the era where they wore big neck braces and cut-off shirts,'' Miller said.
``I've watched film on him; he played pretty passionate,'' Miller added. ``We joke about it on the practice field - we say that he's probably the only coach in the Big Ten that can beat up coach (Ron) Zook.''
OTHER WHITE MEAT: Iowa hasn't won a bowl game since the 2005 Capital One Bowl, but it's currently in possession of all three of the traveling trophies it plays for - the Heartland and Cy-Hawk trophies and the Floyd of Rosedale statute.
The Hawkeyes took back the Heartland with a 38-16 win over Wisconsin on Oct. 18, and it wrestled the Cy-Hawk away from Iowa State with a 17-5 victory on Sept. 13. Iowa has had Floyd - a bronze pig that's 21 inches long, 15 inches tall and weighs in at 98.3 pounds - since last November, when it beat Minnesota 21-16.
Saturday will be the 74th time these teams have played for the right to hold onto the pig for 12 months.
Kirk Ferentz said. ``Obviously if we don't do our job Saturday, we're going to lose one of them.''
QUICK-HITTERS: The rest of Saturday's schedule includes Indiana at Purdue in Joe Tiller's last game as Boilers head coach, Iowa is at Minnesota in the Gophers' last game at the Metrodome, and Cal Poly at Wisconsin. ... Conference players of the week: Iowa TB Shonn Greene, Wisconsin DT Mike Newkirk, Ohio State DB Malcolm Jenkins. ... An Ohio State win would give the Buckeyes four titles in a row, the school's longest streak since Woody Hayes' teams won a record six in a row 1972-77.
AP Sports Writers Colin Fly, Larry Lage and Luke Meredith, and Associated Press Writers Genaro C. Armas, David Mercer, Joe Esse and Tim Martin contributed to this report.

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