Penn State: Lions, Big Ten have something to prove
Saturday, December 12, 2009
By Ron Musselman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Half of Penn State's 12 opponents will be playing in bowl games, but the Nittany Lions still haven't beaten a ranked team all season.
They will get one last shot New Year's Day when the No. 11 Nittany Lions (10-2) face No. 13 LSU (9-3) in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
"You don't want to be ranked in the Top 25 without having beaten anyone else in the Top 25," wide receiver Derek Moye said at a pre-bowl news conference yesterday.
Penn State was 0-1 against ranked teams this year, while LSU was 1-2. The Lions, who lost to then-No. 15 Ohio State, 24-7, and unranked Iowa, 21-10, at home, believe they must beat LSU to validate their season.
"It's kind of a theme we've taken," outside linebacker Sean Lee said. "We have something to prove no matter what.
"We're kind of taking this bowl game as a big challenge and seeing it as a huge game for us. That's going to be our main motivating factor, beating a great program"
Quarterback Daryll Clark, named co-MVP of the Big Ten Conference earlier this week, said the players are excited about playing LSU after having their BCS bubble burst Sunday when the Orange Bowl chose the Hawkeyes over the Lions.
"Obviously, I was hoping that we would get into a BCS [game]," he said. "But we found out we were playing LSU, a big-time SEC team. We were excited about it because we definitely wanted to play a tough football game against a tough football team."
The Lions have won three of their past four postseason games. But the Big Ten hasn't been nearly as fortunate. The conference finished 1-6 a year ago and hasn't had a winning bowl season since 2002. The Lions were among last season's losing teams, falling to Southern California, 38-24, in the Rose Bowl.
"I sure hope the Big Ten can do a lot better than 1-6," center Stefen Wisniewski said. "I'd like to see us end up with a winning record. I'm definitely getting tired of hearing people say the Big Ten isn't any good."
Meanwhile, coach Joe Paterno's race with Florida State's Bobby Bowden will officially be over soon. Paterno, the winningest coach in Division I-A history with 393 career wins, said he talked to Bowden (388 victories) before his recent announcement to step down after the Gator Bowl.
"Bobby has done a fantastic job for Florida State," Paterno said. "What happened there, I don't have all the ins and the outs. I think it's disappointing to see a colleague that you respect and admire and appreciate the job he's done, to be in the middle of all this turmoil."
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