Posted November 23, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Penn State cornerback Stephon Morris doesn't believe the rumor about Montee Ball, the one about the Wisconsin tailback having a ''down year.''
If 1,400 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns are disappointing, imagine what the Wisconsin star senior can do in a good season.
This is the predicament facing the Nittany Lions (7-4, 5-2 Big Ten) when Ball and the Badgers (7-4, 4-3) roll into Happy Valley in the regular-season finale n Saturday.
''I looked at his stats and was like, `He's having a down year?''' Morris said. ''You can't take anything away from that. He might make some big plays on Saturday. We're going to have our plays, too.''
One more touchdown would give Ball 79 career scores, breaking a tie for the major college record set by Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio) in 1999. With two straight games of at least 191 yards rushing, Ball might be the best player on the cold Beaver Stadium turf.
Temperatures aren't expected to rise past the mid-30s and should fall throughout a game, starting at mid-afternoon. Snow flurries might fall, too.
It's the type of old-school football weather that pumps up the adrenaline of Penn State coach Bill O'Brien.
''It's Thanksgiving, and you're practicing and this is what football is all about: Wisconsin versus Penn State,'' O'Brien said this week. ''I heard maybe it's going to snow, which would be great, wouldn't that be great? This is football to me, this is football.''
But a game that, on the surface, doesn't mean much in the Big Ten standings. Wisconsin has already locked up the Leaders Division title and berth in next week's conference game because the two teams ahead of the Badgers - Ohio State and Penn State - are ineligible for postseason play because of NCAA sanctions.
Wisconsin is the beneficiary of this wacky year - third place in the Leaders Division is good enough to get a shot at the Rose Bowl.
But the Badgers aren't making any excuses. Coach Bret Bielema said he doesn't plan to hold any of his players back in the game, so long as they're healthy and depending on the ''ebb and flow'' of the contest.
Wisconsin would like to bounce back from last week's 21-14 overtime loss to No. 4 Ohio State and regain momentum headed into the league title game.
''I think we need to win this weekend to propel us into Indianapolis,'' center and team captain Travis Frederick said. ''I think we need to take advantage of this week, get better and really get the confidence back in our team.''
At Penn State, every game is treated like a bowl game. It's the closest the Nittany Lions will come to a postseason feel because of NCAA penalties for the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
And as if this weekend wasn't going to be emotional enough for a senior class that helped keep most of the team together after the sanctions were announced, the Nittany Lions have new motivation for Saturday - to win without star linebacker Michael Mauti. The senior is out after hurting his left knee last week.
Not only will Mauti be missed in trying to stop Ball, but he's also one of Penn State's fiery leaders. Mauti told the team this week not to worry about his health.
''We still have a game to play, he got up and told us that,'' said defensive tackle Jordan Hill, another senior leader. ''We can focus on him after next week. Spoken like a true leader.''
Penn State senior quarterback Matt McGloin can add another accomplishment Saturday in his already-impressive season. The school's career leader in passing touchdowns and single-season passing yardage, McGloin needs one more score to tie Daryll Clark (2009) for the single-season passing touchdowns with 24.
Wisconsin has a pretty good group of seniors, too. One more victory would allow the Badgers' current crop of seniors to tie the 2007 class for the school record with 40 victories in a four-year span.
Unlike Penn State, Wisconsin will have two more games after Saturday - the Big Ten title game and a bowl bid, Pasadena or not. A heavy dose of handoffs to Ball might be the solution the Badgers need to forget about last week's loss to the Buckeyes.
''Our guys have had a lot invested in every game this year. And the part I've kind of said all along is they're a very resilient group,'' Bielema said. ''So it's a group I know will bounce back.''
Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Tweet The season started with Heisman hopes for Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball. Unfortunately it will end without a return trip to New York for this year’s ceremony. But the senior is putting the finishing touches on a memorable year (and career), one he can be more than proud of. Last month Montee [...]
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Wisconsin star running back Montee Ball set an NCAA record after scoring his 79th career touchdown on a 17-yard run in the first quarter of Saturday's game against Penn State.
The score broke a tie in the record book with Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio), who had previously set the major college mark in 1999.
Entering Saturday's game, Ball had...
Congratulations to Wisconsin RB Montee Ball, who set a new NCAA record for career touchdowns scored. The new record came on his 79th career touchdown in today’s game against Penn State.
MINNEAPOLIS Already bowl eligible, the University of Minnesota football team had less on the line than the visiting Michigan State Spartans on Saturday. MSU came to TCF Bank Stadium with a 5-6 record, needing one more win to become bowl eligible. The Spartans took care of business, beating the Gophers26-10. Minnesota's loss was overshadowed by yet another seizure by head coach...
MINNEAPOLIS Turnovers and a lack of offense plagued the University of Minnesota football team in Saturday's 26-10 loss to Michigan State in the regular-season finale. The Gophers held a brief one-point lead in the first half but were outscored 13-3 after halftime as they fell to 6-6 on the season. Here are the grades for Minnesota's lackluster performance against the Spartans...
Sam Ficken hit a 37-yard field goal in overtime, and Wisconsin's Kyle French attempt from 45 yards went wide left to seal Penn State's 24-21 win Saturday in an emotional season finale in Happy Valley.
The Nittany Lions (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten) could have ended it for good a play earlier, but linebacker Glenn Carson dropped a potential interception.
Still, the Beaver Stadium faithful...
If there is another team in college football that has endured more hard-luck losses this season than Wisconsin, you'd be hard-pressed to find it. On Saturday, Wisconsin dropped a heart-stopping 24-21 overtime decision against Penn State, marking the Badgers' second straight overtime loss.
Wisconsin lost, 21-14, in overtime last week to Ohio State. And two games before that...
Coming up big against Montee Ball and the Badgers, see Penn State's emotional Senior Day overtime win by the numbers and stats here.
Senior cornerback Stephon Morris wants his younger Penn State teammates to follow his lead and stick with the program.
He's part of a respected Penn State senior class that's about to play its last game Saturday against Wisconsin (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) to end an emotional and challenging season.
The Nittany Lions (7-4, 5-2) have had a successful season despite the NCAA sanctions...
What a wild journey the 2012 season has been for the Penn State Nittany Lion football team.
In a season with some lowest of lows mixed with the highest of highs, and just about everything in-between, the Nittany Lions (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten) ended with yet another high in their 24-21 win over the Wisconsin Badgers (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) on Senior Day at Beaver Stadium.
Following a trying...
We hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving, but there is no time for one of those gluttonous food comas as we're about to kickoff the best week of the year in college football: Rivalry Week! In an effort to hit as many of the games as possible, we're doing things a little different this week. We're going through each conference to say something quick about the...
There's been chatter abound about how this game is meaningless to the Badgers, but try telling that to a coach who's pushing for a trophy game against the Nittany Lions and recruits against them heavily every season. Oh, and there's this little record Montee Ball is looking to break and all...
Pretty sure this game has meaning for the Badgers, but just what must...
Overtime has been unkind to the Wisconsin Badgers who have lost three overtime games in the past four weeks. Moreover, the Badgers (7-5, 4-4) last nine losses are by a touchdown or less.
Penn State fought back from a first-half deficit to beat Wisconsin, 24-21, in what was their last game of the season.
The Badgers only real highlight of the day was Montee Ball breaking the NCAA...