UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Stripped of its national championship dream, No. 9 Penn State defends its regional turf today against No. 20 Boston College in a battle of Eastern powers.
The Nittany Lions (5-1), winners of their past 19 games against Eastern opponents, are 10-point favorites over the unbeaten Eagles (4-0-1) in the noon kickoff at Beaver Stadium.
Penn State has won the past eight games against Boston College, dominating a series that ends today by a 19-1 margin. While this game doesn't quite match the sparkle of last week's Penn State-Miami showdown -- won by Miami, 17-14 -- Lions coach Joe Paterno spent the week trying to head off a letdown.
"I think it will take a better game than we played last week to beat this team," he said.
Boston College arrives in Happy Valley with some impressive credentials. The Eagles have balance on offense between quarterback Glenn Foley and tailbacks Chuckie Dukes and Dwight Shirley. Foley ranks seventh in the nation in pass efficiency, and Dukes is averaging 109.8 yards rushing. Boston College's defense, giving up 8.8 points a game, already has three shutouts.
The Eagles have had two weeks to prepare for Penn State after a 24-24 tie against West Virginia.
Even if Penn State has rebounded mentally from the Miami loss, the Lions have some physical problems to contend with. Paterno said he considers kicker Craig Fayak (back injury) doubtful for the game. And quarterback John Sacca's right collarbone was hurt against Miami, although he stayed in the game.
This week might mark the return of Kerry Collins, a redshirt sophomore who won the starting quarterback job last spring but lost it by breaking his right index finger over the summer.
One thing is certain to change for Penn State this week: the sound system that was unveiled at Beaver Stadium.
"I told some people, 'Why don't you liven up that place, get more noise in it?' " Paterno said this week. "I should have been more specific. I think you've heard the last of whatever you heard. Was that music?"