I am in awe of Coach O'Brien's player development of his underclassmen.
Based on his philosophy of "next man up," these kids are jumping at the chance to be recognized and be next in line to contribute.
For example, there are five players deep at tailback and a number of players at tight end (Y and F) and wide receiver.
This is going to surprise a lot of people, but QB Matt McGloin might be NFL material.
What a difference in his being "coached up" under the new coaching staff. Watching Penn State players develop this year is like opening up presents at Christmas.
Rudel vs. the oddsmakers
Line: Penn State is a 3.5-point favorite.
Inside the line: Both teams have done well vs. number this year - Wildcats are 5-0 vs. it and Lions are 4-1 ... Lions are 3-7-1 vs. spot in last 11 home games, but 2-1 this year ... Home team is 9-4 vs. line in last 13 meetings ... PSU has won last four vs. 'Cats and covered spot each time ... Over-under is 48 ... In last 18 games, Lions are 2-15-1 vs. over, tying it (42) last week ... As road dog since 2002, Wildcats are 23-17-1 vs. spot.
Prediction: Penn State 29, Northwestern 20
Comment: Wildcats usually don't match up physically with Lions.
Prediction record: 4-1
Penn State vs. line: 4-1
Prediction record vs. line: 4-1
It is a new era full of surprises and wondering who has what it takes to be the next NFL player now under development.
I will let McGloin know that you're available to be his agent.
Dear Mr. Beckman:
The passage of time has allowed us to forgive you for your sojourn to State College to hang out with our players and break bread.
And that little encounter in Champaign on Saturday further crystallized why you did what you did: Our players are a lot better than your players.
But just the same, mind your own business for the next year, OK?
Fort Myers, FL
Dear Mr. Weber:
Please tell Coach O'Brien I said hello.
Is Mauti's 99-yard interception return without points an NCAA record?
There is no indication of that category in the NCAA record book.
Mauti did break the Penn State record for longest interception return, previously 98 yards and held by Wayne Berfield at Boston University in 1958.
That was already Joe Paterno's ninth year on the staff.
I've been a faithful follower of your column "Penn State Mailbag" in Gameday for longer than I can remember.
According to the picture attached to your column, you seem to have found the secret to the aging process. Over the years, you never seem to age (i.e. The late Dick Clark syndrome.)
What's your secret?
Middlebury Center, PA
My only secret is the next mug shot I get will reflect the newspaper - gray. But thanks.
P.S. Are we related?
After last week's game with Temple, in regards to personal fouls, we were looking like a John L. Smith-coached team. I was impressed that our penalty problems disappeared in Illini game. Super coaching.
I'd say John L. will be on the next motorcycle out of Arkansas.
The first was Bobby Petrino.
What a pleasure to watch this Bill O'Brien offense and how sweet this Illinois win was. I almost jumped onto the field to congratulate the Nittany Lions.
That would have gotten you on SportsCenter.
Rudel will respond to comments weekly in Gameday. He can be reached at 946-7527 or email@example.com.