ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE
• Penn State leads the nation in sacks with 35 in eight games, or 4.38 per game. Those sacks have been for a total of 248 yards. Indiana in No. 2 in sacks, with 34. The Nittany Lions' season record for sacks is 54, set in 1979.
• Penn State defensive end Maurice Evans is second in the nation in sacks with 10.5 in eight games. George Selvie of South Florida leads with 11.5 sacks in only seven games. The Nittany Lions' season record for sacks is 15, set by Larry Kubin in 1979 and tied by Michael Haynes in 2002. The nation's top 16 sacks leaders this year are all defensive linemen.
• Evans is third in the nation in tackles for loss with 18.5. The school season record is 29, set by Courtney Brown in 1999.
• Jeremy Boone is 14th in the nation in punting, averaging 44.22 yards per kick. Penn State is No. 2 in net punting, with an average of 40.64 yards. That means opponents are averaging less than three return yards per punt vs. the Lions. Georgia Tech is No. 1 in net punting (40.83-yard average).
• Penn State is ninth in the nation in rushing defense, 31st in pass defense, seventh in total defense and -- most importantly -- tied for fourth in scoring defense (15 ppg). Of the nation's top six teams in scoring defense, PSU is the only one with more than one loss. In fact, the other five (Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Arizona State and LSU) have a combined record of 35-2.
• Penn State is the fourth-least penalized team in the nation, having been flagged only 4.13 times per game. The least penalized team is Iowa State (3.5 per), which is 1-7.
• Opponents have converted only 2 of 9 fourth-down attempts vs. Penn State.
• Penn State is tied for fourth in the nation in fumbles recovered with 12. That's the good news
• Penn State is tied with UCF for next to last in the nation (No. 117) in fumbles lost (12). That's the bad news. This is nothing new, as the Lions fumbled 26 times (losing 15 of them) in 2006 to rank 102nd nationally. By the way, TCU is last this year with 13.
• Penn State is next to last in the nation (No. 118) in kickoff return defense, allowing 26.89 yards per return.
FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH
PSU is averaging 12 lost fumbles per year since Galen Hall took over as offensive coordinator in 2004, and that's with only two-thirds of the 2007 season having been played. In the four seasons prior to 2004, the Lions averaged 8.5 lost fumbles per season, with only five in 2001.
• Penn State's opponents to date have a combined record of 24-27 against Division I-A competition. Its four remaining opponents have a record of 20-10.
• No. 1 Ohio State could have its hands full down the stretch. Its remaining opponents are 21-8 vs. D-IA. The Buckeyes opponents to date are 22-21 vs. D-IA.
• Looking for a team ripe for a late-season flop? Southern Cal's opponents to date are a collective 12-32 vs. D-IA, representing the 116th-worst schedule in the nation. Its remaining opponents are 26-8.
• Tempted to vote 7-0 Hawaii into the top 10? The Warriors have played the worst schedule in the nation to date, with its opponents going 5-25 vs. D-IA. Factor in D-IAA teams, and Hawaii's slate ranks No. 233 out of 235. Southern Cal is 224 out of 235.
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING
Wondering where Michigan rates in terms of penalties? The Wolverines are 13th in the nation and third in the Big Ten (behind Penn State and Michigan State) with 5.13 penalties against them per game. BUT in four non-conference games, Michigan has been hit with an average of 6.5 penalties. In four conference games, Lloyd Carr's crew has been flagged only 3.75 times per outing, including a season-low one in a win over Penn State.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Redshirt junior safety Spencer Ridenhour left the Penn State football program in July, transferring to Division I-AA Massachusetts. Though eligible to play immediately, he has not made a significant impact for the Minutemen.
Ridenhour has played in six of seven games to date and has a total of two tackles. He is the team's second-team strong safety, behind classmate Michael Meggett, a transfer from West Virginia.
UMass is 6-1 and ranked No. 4 in D-IAA. Its only loss was a 10-pointer (24-14) at Boston College.
In the meantime, offensive tackle Antonio Logan-El left the Penn State football team during spring practice. He transferred to Division I-AA Towson, where he is currently running second team at left tackle behind sophomore Adam Pritts.
Towson is 3-4, including a 36-16 loss to UMass.