Some gameday notes and observations while braced for the wind chill of Lake Michigan Penn State's leadership and maturity factor will be tested today.
Northwestern, though respectable at 5-3 under Pat Fitzgerald, has never led the Big Ten in atmosphere.
Part of the Wildcats' challenge is their lack of tradition. Warmups 30 minutes before games at Indiana and Northwestern are often conducted before mostly empty seats.
Ryan Field reminds me of a big Mansion Park, and that is not meant as a knock on Mansion Park, one of the best high school stadiums around.
Knowing it won't get much energy from the crowd, Joe Paterno has told his team in the past that its motivation on days like today must come from within.
Compounding Penn State's mental state is the fact that it is fresh from its best win of the year at Michigan, and JoePa & Co. must guard against peeking around the corner at next Saturday's visit from Ohio State and Terrelle Pryor - the closest thing the Lions have to a rivalry on the schedule.
Penn State (7-1)
at Northwestern (5-3)
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m.
Odds: Penn State is a 13 1/2-point favorite.
Updated PSU injury/status report: TB Stephfon Green (ankle) is expected to miss his second straight game. LB Sean Lee (knee) may see more time this week. He played 34 snaps at Michigan.
While Northwestern usually doesn't match up with Penn State physically, the Wildcats have averaged 27 points per game in their last three home dates with PSU.
Part of the reason for that is the Lions haven't usually played their best game in Evanston.
For the past week, JoePa has started to play his "credit" card - as in the Lions, specifically quarterback Daryll Clark, supposedly aren't getting enough credit.
He did the same thing with Anthony Morelli, at least until Morelli couldn't finish a late drive at Michigan State, and the Lions wound up the 2007 regular season at 8-4.
Who knows where this is coming from because JoePa claims he doesn't read the papers or pay attention to the media, but the whole subject is counterproductive.
Plus when he goes down this road, it sounds an awful like he thinks his son, Jay, the Lions' quarterbacks coach, is the one not getting enough credit. And we know that's not true.
If JoePa wants to give Clark or Jared Odrick or Navorro Bowman more credit, run off a few hundred thousand posters and give them away. But that's not Penn State's style, and that's fine, too. Which is why Paterno's posture seems to go against much of how he's tried to run the program for 44 years.
The best advice I ever saw about teamwork and credit was a sign posted in the Altoona Curve clubhouse that read: "Give the credit away."
Big Ten blues
The one place where the Big Ten isn't getting enough credit is the polls.
It's impossible to imagine that an unbeaten Iowa team, with fourth-quarter comeback wins at Penn State and Michigan State, along with home wins over Michigan and Arizona, is rated below Boise State, Cincinnati and TCU.
And it's not just the writers who don't know what they're talking about: It's the coaches poll, too.
Rudel can be reached at email@example.com. He will respond to brief comments in Gameday.