This was supposed to be the quiet week. Lowly Indiana in town. Students heading home for Thanksgiving break. Plenty of touchdowns to be scored, yes, but a game without much drama expected before the emotional senior day finale against Wisconsin.
Certainly Michael Mauti‚??s knee injury and Matt McGloin‚??s spree of broken records dominated the afternoon at Beaver Stadium in Penn State‚??s 45-22 win over Indiana. But there was plenty going on behind the scenes at Beaver Stadium throughout the day.
‚?Ę Those two items were almost -- almost -- enough to overshadow Penn State‚??s frustrations from the past weekend, which stemmed from a tough break on an instant replay review in a loss to Nebraska.
McGloin made headlines that week by saying, ‚??We‚??ll never get that call,‚?Ě insinuating a bias against the Nittany Lions.
The senior quarterback was not made available for comment during the week but held court after the win over Indiana, where he was asked if he regretted any of the comments he made.
‚??No,‚?Ě the Scranton native said. ‚??I don‚??t think I regret anything I ever say.‚?Ě
‚?Ę When Penn State finished warm-ups before the game, it looked like there would barely be enough students to form the ‚??S Zone‚?Ě in the section behind the south goal posts.
With rows and rows of empty bleachers to work with in the hour before kickoff, the first group of students in the stands actually formed a conga line and began snaking up, down and around the rows for a good 15 minutes.
But that wasn‚??t the biggest development in the student section. After a meager showing at kickoff, the entire end zone gradually filled up during the first quarter, nearly filling up despite the holiday break at the school.
‚??I thought it was good, and I didn‚??t know what to expect,‚?Ě said Lions coach Bill O‚??Brien, who had spent the past 10 days asking students and fans for support. ‚??I cannot say enough about our fans. We have great fans here and I think that they support this team. And this team really appreciates it.
‚??I thought that the fans were really good today, and I hope that they‚??re great next week. They were really good today, but I hope that they are phenomenal next week.‚?Ě
‚?Ę That next week would be the Wisconsin game. The Badgers, like Penn State, will be playing just for pride on that day. Wisconsin lost in overtime to Ohio State on Saturday, crowning the Buckeyes the official Leaders Division champion.
With Penn State and Ohio State ineligible for the postseason because of NCAA sanctions, however, Wisconsin will still represent the division in the Big Ten title game in two weeks, facing either Michigan or Nebraska.
‚?Ę Speaking of the Huskers, they may not be the new kid in the Big Ten for much longer.
In the middle of Saturday‚??s craziness emerged multiple reports from ESPN, Yahoo Sports and the Associated Press alike that the Big Ten is in the midst of ‚??serious talks‚?Ě to add Maryland to the conference. According to The Washington Post, Maryland‚??s Board of Regents will vote this morning on a potential move from the ACC to the Big Ten, perhaps for as soon as the 2014 season.
Much, however, remains to be finalized with any expansion talk. Those same reports have listed Rutgers as a potential partner to enter with Maryland, expanding the conference an even 14 teams.
‚?Ę O‚??Brien said last week he had never been on a team that was penalized for sideline interference in a game. Penn State has been flagged for it now twice in as many weeks.
Against Nebraska, it was a player who bumped into an official while standing on the sideline boundary during a punt return.
This time, O‚??Brien said, he was the one who got in the way during an interception return by Adrian Amos.
‚??That‚??s on me,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said. ‚??I was in the white, and the guy ran into me. So that was on me.‚?Ě
‚?Ę As for the future, Penn State‚??s big recruiting weekend was last month against Ohio State. But the Lions hosted two prominent visitors on Saturday in junior college teammates Jake Waters and Aaron Wimberly.
Waters, a quarterback, and Wimberly, a running back, both play for Iowa Western, the top-ranked JUCO team in the country.
Wimberly is a verbal commit to Iowa State. Waters has not made any pledge yet, with Penn State and previously unbeaten Kansas State among his top suitors.
In the lounge overlooking Penn State‚??s media room at Beaver Stadium, the team had set up two life-size mannequins decked out in full Lions football gear.
The one on the left wore a home No. 2 jersey, Wimberly‚??s number at Iowa Western. The right sported a road uniform with Waters‚?? No. 15. The quarterback snapped a photo of himself next to it before leaving.