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No. 16 Penn State plays host to No.6 Ohio State in Happy Valley

October 5, 2005

After joining the Big Ten in 1993, Penn State finished in the top three of the conference for five straight years.

Yet, the Nittany Lions have not come closer than fourth place since then.

But this year might be a different story as Joe Paterno has his team out to its first 5-0 start since 1999, when the team won its first nine games.

This weekend presents the toughest test to date for the No. 16 Nittany Lions, a matchup with No. 6 Ohio State at Beaver Stadium.

"I don't think any of us around here are in fairyland," Paterno said.

"We know what we've got ahead of us. We just feel very fortunate that it's been so far, so good. But starting this week with Ohio State, we've got a lot of tough things ahead of us."

Coming off a disappointing 4-7 season last year, Paterno appears to have turned things around.

"We were a pretty solid football team last year," he said. "We knew what we needed. We needed a couple people who could make a couple of plays on the outside. We worked hard to recruit them."

Throughout his career, Paterno has relied on stingy defense, not tricky offense, to win football games. It's a formula that seems to be working once again this season, where he believes 21 points should be enough to win a football game.

"If you can't play defense, you've got problems," he said.

With one more win, Penn State will guarantee itself a trip to a bowl game for the first time since 2002, when they lost 13-9 to Auburn in the Capital One Bowl.

In the ranks

Five Big Ten teams are ranked in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, led by Ohio State at No. 6.

Wisconsin is at No. 14, Penn State at No. 16, MSU at No. 19 and Michigan rounds out the group at No. 21.

Players of the week

U-M running back Michael Hart was named the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Wolverines 34-31 overtime win against MSU. He ran for 218 yards on 36 carries with a touchdown.

Iowa linebacker Abdul Hodge and Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny were named the Co-Defensive Players of the Week.

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