Joe Paterno has talked all week about the need to play "our game" at Iowa.
Exactly what JoePa's interpretation of that is will be answered more definitively against the Hawkeyes.
After unveiling a spread offense that helped the Nittany Lions surprise the nation and take the Big Ten by storm, Penn State's offense was scaled back considerably at Ohio State.
The Nittany Lions were fortunate to beat the Buckeyes, 13-6, on the strength of a short-field touchdown drive following Terrelle Pryor's decisive fumble that cost Ohio State the game in the fourth quarter.
That has led to a couple of weeks worth of questions on the offense, about which Paterno has bristled and suggested the game was dictated by field position and defense.
He mastered that approach long ago, but he also has to know that style may not be good enough to elevate the third-ranked Lions to the national-championship game - especially if the teams ahead of them, Alabama and Texas Tech, keep winning.
Penn State cannot button up the playbook today like it did at Ohio State when the Nits were extremely fortunate to be up against a freshman quarterback, Pryor, and a coach in Jim Tressel who also embraces conservative offense.
The Lions attempted a season-low 20 passes in Columbus - mostly of the east-west variety - and racked up just four passing first downs, another season low.
Had Mark Rubin not punched the ball loose from Pryor, triggering the Lions' 10-point fourth quarter, people around here would be complaining much more about how the Nits' offense suddenly went into a shell than they are about Penn State looking up at Texas Tech.
Asked whether the bye week can be used to regain some offensive momentum, JoePa went into his "what game are you watching?" mantra.
"You [media] guys look at a different game than I look at," he said. "We had field position, and the score was such that it didn't necessitate that we take any dumb chances. So we didn't throw the ball down the field that much."
Um, Joe, you were losing most of the way.
Paterno was concerned with Ohio State's defensive front, much as Tressel didn't give Pryor too many dropback opportunities.
The strategy contributed to the Lions being held to 20 points or less twice in their last four games.
Iowa, with its strong running game, will try to control the ball, and keep Penn State's offense off the field.
"We are going to play our game," Paterno said. "Field position has a lot to do with our game. Ohio State has a great kicking team, and so does Iowa."
JoePa is sounding eerily like he may want to steer in the ship with defense, kicking and offense - in that order - even though the offense had an equal say in building the team's confidence through eight weeks.
"We can't make too many mistakes if we want to win," Paterno said.
Iowa will not scare anybody on paper. The Hawkeyes are just 5-4, but it wasn't that long ago they had fashioned a five-game win streak over Penn State, and this is a chance for Iowa to have its moment in the sun this season.
The Hawks are at home and will give the Lions their best shot.
Further, with quarterback Daryll Clark coming off a concussion, the playbook may be tweaked to take out some QB draws, not to mention putting an emphasis on Clark's protection.
Regardless, it would behoove Penn State to be aggressive offensively and not keep both teams in the game.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.