Great Underground Empire Strikes Back

Straight up, Joe... everyone wants to know!

Q. Just wondering how you feel about getting your 400th win as it gets closer?
COACH PATERNO: "Well, I try not to get involved in that. I don' know, I don't go home and think about what we've done. I go home and worry about what we've got to get done. So I don't...I think the kids are getting better. They are feeling good about themselves and I think that we are making progress. That's the thing that I'm pleased with. As far as a win someplace down the line or what have you, I really don't think of it."


We're looking for a sound bite for the ages here, Joe.  C'mon give us something juicy.

Q. This week, I know you're not making much of the 400, but the last couple of days, have you gotten more than usual phone calls from other coaches and former players?
COACH PATERNO: "Geez, no. I haven't talked to anybody. Nobody's called me; I haven't called them. The only one I've talked to well, I've talked to some guys just on a social thing, but Greg Schiano and I have talked a couple of times because he wanted to make sure he was doing everything he should for their kid (Eric LeGrand) who got hurt. But other than that, I haven't talked to anybody."


Eric LeGrand & Greg Schiano?  What the hell does that have to do with the Irish Potato Famine?

Q. You've tried to I guess down play what it (400 wins) means for you personally, but for the Penn State program itself, is there a significance there?
COACH PATERNO: Well, what's significant?

Q. Approaching 400 wins.
COACH PATERNO: Oh, for....hey, I've been around enough wins. I'm only concerned about these kids getting some wins while they are in college. They are only in college for four years. I've been here for four plus a couple more.

Dammit, Joe!!!  We're not leaving this press conference without some good copy!


Q. You've been deflecting the milestone 400, but nobody in Division I history has ever done it, and nobody may ever after you. Could you just talk about what has kept you going?

COACH PATERNO: Football to me has been a vehicle by which I can have some impact on some people in a very impressionable part of their lives. I was fortunate and I had that in a high school coach and I was fortunate I had that in a college coach. I was fortunate I had that in my father (Angelo) who was a very unselfish man.

So that's my background. But every once in awhile, you wonder whether somebody couldn't do a better job for the people that I'm responsible for. That's why I don't get excited about 400 if it happens because, geez, you hang around long enough (chuckling), all right? How many years I been the head coach, 40? You know, you've got to win a couple of games in that time.

I really don't give it much thought. It won't make much difference if I win 390 or 400. That won't make any difference.

But generally the fun is just the competition. When you're in a ballgame, you've got to make this play, you've got to do that, you've got to say the right thing to the kids, you've got to make them understand what they have got to do to win.

I mean, it's all I don't know what the word is, stimulating maybe is the best way to put it. You know, during the week, you fret, you worry, you gripe. You go home, and you don't talk because you're thinking a little bit.

But when it comes game day, its fun.

That's better, Joe.  Thanks.  Thanks for all 400.


Season Schedule


Double Secret Probation

Michigan State over Minnesota

You ever seen one of those little anger management dolls that allow pissed off people to vent frustrations?  They sometimes look like the boss in Dilbert.  Minnesota is one of those dolls for the Spartans this week.





The Intriguing

Illinois over Michigan

"The Fighting Illini are fighting again.  Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was named Big Ten Player of the Week on offense Monday after he set multiple career highs in a 44-10 triumph over Purdue last weekend.  The freshman completed 16 of 20 passes for 195 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions and added 118 rushing yards on 21 carries to amass 313 total yards - all career bests. His pass efficiency rating of 227.9 marked the sixth-best, single-game rating in Illinois history, while his 118 rushing yards were sixth-best." (

Against Michigan's defense, he may do even better.  Note to Rob Bolden - FRESHMAN.


Iowa over Indiana

The Hoosiers are hoping for Iowa to suffer a Michigan State-like meltdown after a big win.  Unfortunately, every matchup on the field favors the Hawkeyes.  Indiana's early season offensive fireworks have fizzled against the Big Ten defenses (yea, Michigan - I'm not including you.)

I think this one gets ugly, early.


Wisconsin over Purdue

Are you getting the sense yet that the Big Ten slate is pretty uninteresting this week?  Because it is.  Purdue managed just 9 first downs and 205 total yards against Illinois.  They had 9 first downs and 118! net yards against Ohio State.

The "W" on the Badgers helmet stands for "Whoopin".  The "P" on the Boilermakers helmet stands for vag - ummm.  "Pounded".


Game of the Week

Penn State over Northwestern

These are two very similar teams in offensive production.  Northwestern is 8th in the Big Ten in points scored and Penn State is 9th.  PSU is 4th in points allowed and Northwestern is 5th.   The last FIVE Northwestern games have been decided by one score or less.  So naturally, Penn State will defeat the Wildcats by 14. 

Of course that makes no sense.  But actually, PSU seems to be finding an identity as the youngsters gain some experience.  McGloin showed good poise and effectiveness against Michigan (Doesn't everyone?). Rob Bolden has had a few weeks off to sit back and take in the offense.  Evan Royster & Silas Redd have taken turns carrying the load the last two weeks.  I think they'll be fine.

Northwestern's dink & dunk offense plays into the PSU strengths up front.  PSU has struggled with the power running games this year but should have no problem forcing Northwestern to make 12-14 play drives to score.  Keep the ball in front of the defense and use probabilities to stop the uber-efficient Dan Persa.  Northwestern is a bit of a paper cat with an easy first half of the season.  Opponents of the Wildcats have gone 17-30 so far (8 of those by MSU).  The remaining opponents on the schedule have a record of 19-9.

Oh, and there is no significance here.  So don't watch it expecting any.


Next Best 3

No. 3 TCU over No. 5 Utah

I know this game looks fairly even on paper.  But TCU's defense has been incredibly tough 7 of the last 8 games.  10 to Baylor.  3 to BYU.  7 points for the nation's leading ground attack.  A couple of shut outs thrown in there.  The Utes are a solid team but I really see Utah struggling to score.

Mountain West, this is like a gift from the Football gods.  Give us a show.  There will be one winner and two losers in this game.  Boise State falls helplessly behind, no matter who wins.

No. 6 Alabama over No. 10 LSU

I'm taking the Tide simply on coaching alone.  Less Marbles will find a way to mess this up.

No. 13 Stanford at No. 15 Arizona

Stanford needs this quality win to convince BCS Bowls to take a second team should the Oregon Ducks win out (No guarantee).  If Oregon does win out, the Rose Bowl is forced to take the non-BCS qualifier.  Which means, Stanford has to convince the Fiesta or Orange to give them a shot.  They're watching you, Cardinals.

November 5, 2010  04:12 PM ET

Ok, so it's not quite as funny. I've been in a funk all day.

November 5, 2010  04:17 PM ET


So you're saying that the Badgers are saying, "Here, kitty kitty..."?


Great blog as always, Grue! Read an interview with Pat Fitzgerald-- he's almost excited to be the one that JoePa will (knock wood) win over...

November 5, 2010  04:41 PM ET

I-O!!!!!!!!!!So you're saying that the Badgers are saying, "Here, kitty kitty..."?;)Great blog as always, Grue! Read an interview with Pat Fitzgerald-- he's almost excited to be the one that JoePa will (knock wood) win over...

They're down with OPP.

Thanks for reading!

November 5, 2010  05:48 PM ET

One of these weeks, the Gophers will win. It may not be this year...but they will win again!

November 6, 2010  09:15 PM ET

Good stuff Grue! Congratulations to Penn State and all its fans for #400.

You were dead on saying Utah would have trouble scoring today. Well done.


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