Would the 4-2 Nittany Lions fold under the intense pressure? Or would they rally around one another and make a statement against the Badgers?
As it turned out, they not only did the latter, but accomplished it in resounding fashion, hammering Wisconsin 38-7 to improve to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten. Wisconsin fell to 5-2 and 2-2.
Read on for the good, the bad and the ugly from the game.
MEN OF THE HOUR: Penn State's offensive line dominated the entire game, allowing a host of skill players to post great numbers. It was by far the best game for the line against a quality opponent this year.
CLOSE SECOND: Quarterback Anthony Morelli was sharper than he's been all year, connecting on 16 of 28 passes for 216 yards and a score. Senior tailback Rodney Kinlaw pounded out 115 yards on 23 carries while Evan Royster averaged 8.5 yards per carry off the bench. Austin who? Defensive end Maurice Evans had three tackles, all behind the line, and a pair of sacks.
TURNING POINT: Wisconsin never recovered from P.J. Hill's fumble on the day's first play from scrimmage. Sean Lee recovered for the Lions. Fullback Matt Hahn scored three plays later and the Badgers, now losers of two straight following a 14-game winning streak, looked shell-shocked the rest of the way.
SOLID STRATEGY: Penn State had great balance on offense all day. It started in the first quarter, when the Lions ran the ball eight times and passed it seven times. We also like the decision to go for it on fourth and inches from the Wisconsin 19, leading 17-7, in the second quarter. Royster popped loose for a touchdown. Great to see the staff show that much confidence in the offense, even though Joe Paterno admitted he went back and forth on the issue before deciding to go for it.
NUMBERS GAME: The Lions have outscored their opponents 71-7 in the second quarter and 72-6 in the third quarter this season.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Lee and Dan Connor both had a dozen tackles.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Penn State's kick coverage team toughened up, allowing only two returns (nice leg by Kevin Kelly with four touchbacks) for a total of 39 yards.
WHAT'S UP WITH: PSU's brutal third-down conversion rate (4 of 13). The Lions were obviously doing a lot of damage on first, second and either fourth down.
HIT SQUAD: Wisconsin attempted to run an end-around to David Gilreath in the fourth quarter but Evans caught him eight yards in the backfield.
TOUGH GUY: Ollie Ogbu shook off an ankle injury and got the start at defensive tackle.
HIDDEN HERO: Penn State's young defensive line held the upper hand on Wisconsin's massive offensive front all game.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Redshirt freshmen Tom McEowen and Abe Koroma both figured prominently in State's defensive tackle rotation, helping to keep the starters fresh. It is officially scary how young and deep PSU is up front.
DID YOU NOTICE?
DE/LB Jerome Hayes injured his right knee in the second half. As of press time, there was no report on the severity of the injury. Hayes was carted off the field and seemed extremely depressed.
True freshman linebacker Chris Colasanti played on the opening kickoff and all subsequent PSU kickoffs. It was his first action of the year.
For all the talk of players being held out of this game due to the alleged fight at the HUB Oct. 7, the only Lion who didn't dress for disciplinary reasons was tailback Austin Scott, who is under investigation for a host of felonies not related to the HUB scuffle.
Wideout Chris Bell and defensive tackle Phil Taylor both spent the day on the bench. Joe Paterno said both athletes are in his doghouse.
Running back turned safety turned running back Brent Carter was Penn State third-team tailback Saturday after moving back to the position during the week. Paterno hinted that true freshman Stephfon Green might play this week, but he did not.
UNANSWERED QUESTION: Can the Lions, 5-0 at home this year, carry the momentum onto the road, where they are 0-2? State travels to Indiana this week.