SHORT REPORT: Good Weekend

Nittany Lions return from a short break to find their head coach back on his feet and Pac-10 power Southern Cal as their probable Rose Bowl foe.

After wrapping up a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl bid with a 49-18 win over Michigan State in the regular-season finale Nov. 22, the Penn State football team was given a week off for Thanksgiving break.

The eighth-ranked Nittany Lions regrouped Sunday at Lasch Building for a squad meeting that started at about 5 p.m.

Given all that happened since their big win over the Spartans, the players were said to be anxious to get back to business.

First, PSU head coach Joe Paterno had hip replacement surgery the day after the Michigan State win. According to one observer, the players were impressed to see their 81-year-old coach walk into the squad meeting with only the use of a single crutch.

“He was walking around, looked awesome and was in good spirits,” the observer said.

The team was in good spirits, too, considering Oregon State's blowout loss to Oregon Saturday night made a Rose Bowl rematch with the Beavers unlikely. If USC beats UCLA this week, the Nittany Lions and Trojans will probably square off in Pasadena.

Penn State crushed Oregon State 45-14 in Happy Valley Sept. 6. After the Beavers lost to Oregon, they fell out of the top 25 of the BCS standings. Southern Cal is 10-1 and ranked fifth in the BCS standings, making it a much more attractive opponent for the Nittany Lions.

“Everyone is so pumped for USC,” an observer said.

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