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Paterno from afar, Penn St. rolls on

The Baltimore Sun

Joe Paterno coaching from the press box might not be such a big deal after all for the No. 3 Penn State football team.

With his team down by three at halftime Saturday to Michigan, the hobbled Hall of Fame coach didn't make it down to the locker room to personally deliver a pep talk, instead relaying messages over a microphone to an assistant coach.

It took a little longer than usual, but Penn State delivered another knockout blow. Thirty-two unanswered points and a dominating second half later, the Nittany Lions (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) stayed perfect and ended a nine-game losing skid to the Wolverines with a 46-17 win.

"In fact, I think some of the kids are going to take a vote, 'When we're home, can you stay on McKee Street?'" Paterno quipped, referring to his house a short drive from Beaver Stadium.

Penn State was third in the first Bowl Championship Series standings released yesterday. The Nittany Lions will need to win their final four regular-season games, likely by big margins, and hope for losses by either Texas or Alabama - the two undefeated teams ahead of them - for Paterno to have a shot at a national title.

Next up for Penn State: a showdown with No. 10 Ohio State at the Horseshoe that may likely decide who wins the Big Ten and locks up the conference's automatic BCS berth.

"Obviously, we'll have a tough one this week," Paterno said.

A sore right leg and hip have bothered Paterno since the first week of the season, when he hurt himself while demonstrating an onside kick in practice. He has been relegated to the press box the past three games.

Yet Penn State has been rolling all season even with Paterno hobbled. He has used a cane the past couple of weeks, and he has been monitoring practices from a golf cart instead of shuttling back and forth between drills.

If Paterno sees something he doesn't like, he tells his staff. It's exactly what happened at halftime the past three games with Paterno in the box, said center and senior leader A.Q. Shipley.

"We weren't getting yelled at, that was one good thing," Shipley said.

AP poll: : Texas was a unanimous No. 1 in the Top 25. The Longhorns received all 65 first-place votes from the media panel, the first team to do that in the regular season since Ohio State during the last four weeks of the 2006 season. Last week, Texas had 39 first-place votes and Alabama received 26. But Texas jumped out to a 35-point, first-half lead on its way to a 56-31 rout of Missouri on Saturday night, and the Crimson Tide hung on to beat Mississippi, 24-20. Dropping out were three Atlantic Coast Conference teams - Virginia Tech, Wake Forest (which lost to Maryland) and North Carolina.

Clemson: : Quarterback Cullen Harper, the ACC preseaon Player of the Year, had surgery on his nonthrowing left shoulder and expects to be ready to start the Tigers' next game at Boston College on Nov. 1. Interim coach Dabo Swinney said Harper should return for practice tomorrow.

Georgia: : Defensive tackle Brandon Wood has been suspended for at least one game after being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Coach Mark Richt said that Wood, a sophomore, will miss Saturday's game at No. 11 LSU. Wood was arrested by university police on Saturday night.

Kentucky: : Running back Derrick Locke will have a magnetic resonance imaging today on a knee injured last weekend against Arkansas.

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