Some pre-game observations while wondering if Greg Schiano is still not interested in the Michigan job:
n Today will be a test of the Nittany Lions' maturity on a couple of different fronts.
Syracuse is not expected to provide much of a challenge. At the same time, the 0-2 Orange have nothing to lose, and the presence of Penn State, a former rival, should help get the home team focused.
n It's a big weekend in Syracuse. With the release of "The Express," the movie about former 'Cuse great Ernie Davis, the 1961 Heisman Trophy winner who died before playing his first NFL game, a lot of former Syracuse players will be in town, including the legendary Jim Brown.
n Penn State has not been a good road team lately. Of the Lions' last eight road openers, they've won just two.
Being inside what's expected to be a loud Carrier Dome will add another hurdle the Lions will have to clear.
Penn State (2-0)
at Syracuse (0-2)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.
Line: Penn State is a 27 1/2-point favorite.
Radio: ESPN Radio 1430, WTRN-AM (1340), ESPN Radio 1450.
Updated PSU injury/status report: Penn State has moved guard Mike Lucian to the defensive line for depth. D-linemen Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma (both suspensions) are not expected to travel.
n The best of Joe Paterno's teams saved their top performances for the road or in bowl games.
Penn State is expected to win today. A sign of its maturity will be indicative by the final margin.
n Just when the ripple from the marijuana-related suspensions of Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma had calmed, word comes from the NFL that former Lion nose guard Ed Johnson had been released by the Indianapolis Colts following his arrest this week for possession of pot. Penn State defensive linemen, current and former, sure have had their troubles these last few years when you factor in the dismissals of Chris Baker and Phil Taylor, not to mention Lavon Chisley, in jail after being found guilty of murder in 2007. Curiously, of all the PSU assistant coaches, defensive line coach Larry Johnson is known to have among the best relationship with his players. Imagine the trouble these guys would find if they didn't have someone like Johnson around.
n Ed Johnson, FYI, was suspended three times at Penn State, including for his last game (the 2007 Outback Bowl).
*On the topic of scheduling, JoePa mentioned again this week that he'd entertain a two-for-one arrangement with both Pitt and Syracuse, and again, my response is this: Pitt and Syracuse ought to call him on it and offer a 10-year series that would begin and end in State College. That would put the Lions on their home schedule four times in 10 years, which is four more times than is happening - today's game aside - now.
*What did California coach Jeff Tedford do to his athletic director? Aside from having to play nine Pac-10 games, the Bears opened with Michigan State and are coming cross country today to play at Maryland. Ouch.
*JoePa missed the weekly State College Quarterback Club this week to fulfill what was called a personal commitment. This shouldn't be considered overly significant except that Paterno has missed only three of these Wednesday in-season lunches in his 43 seasons.
n Perhaps in an attempt not to show favortism, JoePa almost never refers to his son Jay with just his first name. It's usually ... "'Jay Paterno came to me [last year], and said 'maybe we ought to stick Clark in there.''' Our old writer pal Jerry Kellar of Wilkes Barre, who died suddenly last year, used to get a kick out of it, imitating what it must be like around JoePa's Thanksgiving table with such musings as "Sue Paterno, can you pass the cranberry sauce? Scott Paterno, stop monopolizing the gravy." It's OK, Joe. There's only one Jay on the minds of Penn State fans.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He will respond to brief comments and questions in Gameday.