Most people seem to think today's Big Ten showdown between Penn State and Ohio State will be another low-scoring, defensive struggle.
I'm not one of them.
Joe Paterno often approaches Ohio State wearing yellow and waving his caution flag, content to let his defense and kicking game attempt to win a big game while limiting offensive mistakes.
In a loss earlier this decade in Columbus, his response to the crowd noise was to suddenly eliminate all audibles, which curtailed the Nittany Lions' offensive flexibility. He later admitted he panicked.
Crowd noise won't work against the Lions today. In fact, Terrelle Pryor, because of his recruiting spurn and his subsequent comments about Happy Valley, faces the most pressure of any visiting player in memory.
How he handles this game will say a lot about his maturity.
How Penn State handles it will show whether it knows it can't play too close to the vest and that it knows it was extremely lucky to win last year with that strategy.
There have been signs that the Lion braintrust intends to be aggressive.
Joe Paterno has been moaning about what he perceives to be a lack of national attention for Daryll Clark. Perhaps consequently, the game plan has been fairly wide open most of the year with Clark often throwing from deep in the Lions' territory.
Even in the Lions' lone loss of the season against Iowa, Clark dropped back in the shadow of his own goal post (and was
sacked for a safety) so keep an eye on how much JoePa is willing to put his foot on his offensive gas today.
In part because of Ohio State's traditionally tough defense and in part because of their own conservativism, the Lions have scored 20 or more points against the Buckeyes only twice in the last nine meetings, and they haven't done it since 2003.
They'll need to today, and it says here JoePa and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno are anxious to leave the ball-control style in the Lasch Building and dance with what's gotten the Lions to 8-1 - and that's having Clark distribute the ball to his playmakers, especially Derek Moye, like he has all year.
Such a style would also alleviate pressure on the Lions' defense to win the game 9-7.
Because Pryor is not a proven passer, the Lions' corners should be able to cover the receivers man-to-man. That will allow Tom Bradley to crowd the box and send more blitzes while trying to contain Pryor on the edge.
With Sean Lee now 100 percent and appearing to have all of his lateral speed back, the Nit defense has the potential to create turnovers against a running quarterback like Pryor.
That will help fuel the energy of a crowd that has a chance to threaten the Beaver Stadium record of 110,753 set against Nebraska in 2002. And after a force-fed non-conference schedule of Akron, Syracuse, Temple and Eastern Illinois to go with Minnesota, Indiana and a soggy night vs. Iowa, figure the place to be rocking today like it hasn't all year.
While an undefeated season or a berth in the national championship game aren't on the line, plenty still is.
The Lions remain in the hunt to win or share their third Big Ten title in five years, as does Ohio State, and both aren't out of the running for BCS consideration.
And in Penn State's case, the Lions could finish the 2008-2009 cycle with a 4-0 record against Ohio State and Michigan.
I picked it 27-10, which almost gave my colleague Cory Giger whiplash, but all the moons are aligned for the Nittany Lions to make that kind of a statement.
Rudel can be reached at email@example.com. He will respond to brief comments in Gameday.