UNIVERSITY PARK -- Evan Royster said it's "insulting" that Penn State is a 17-point underdog against Ohio State, and it will be up to him and the running game to have a strong effort Saturday to keep things closer than that.
"A lot of people will take offense to it," Royster said of the sizable point spread, the biggest PSU has faced since another 17-point line at Ohio State in 2006 (a 28-6 loss).
Quarterback Matt McGloin, who will start against the Buckeyes, is getting a lot of credit for the Nittany Lions' offensive resurgence the past two weeks. A lot of it, though, also has to go to the running game and offensive line.
No one has been talking lately about Royster being a major disappointment this season. He carried a career-high 29 times for 150 yards against Michigan two weeks ago, and he ran for 134 yards on 25 carries Saturday against Northwestern.
There's no way to know how Royster will finish up this season or what kind of success he will have in the NFL. But just three weeks ago, when he had only 450 yards rushing through seven games -- his prospects of a pro career were rapidly disappearing.
Royster said at the time that the next five weeks "can dictate the next five years of my life."
"At that point," Royster elaborated Saturday night, "the next five weeks of my life were some of the most important. I needed to come out and perform and show that I can come out and play the game and I still have that thing that everybody thought I had lost at some point.
"I think I've matured," he added, "and I think I'm coming out and playing better and doing what my team asks of me."
Royster has responded with two big games, but another one this week will be very difficult. Ohio State is fourth in the nation in run defense, giving up only 84 yards rushing per game.
Some interesting tidbits to keep in mind this week:
* Penn State has never scored more than one TD in a game at Ohio State since joining the Big Ten (8 games).
* PSU is 1-12 on the road against teams ranked in the AP Top 25 going back to 2002. The lone win came at Ohio State in 2008 (13-6).
* The Lions are 3-15 on the road vs. ranked teams since 2000, with an average margin of defeat being 15.3 points.
"They're very well disciplined," Joe Paterno said. "They're very well coached. They have four or five kids that can play for anybody, four or five guys that could go right into pro football. Very good athletes."
The Buckeyes won't just have to worry about Royster, who many people believe isn't even the best running back on the PSU team. True freshman Silas Redd has made an immediate impact, beating out Stephfon Green for the backup job and gaining 131 yards on only 11 carries last week.
The Royster-Redd duo gives the Lions a good 1-2 punch of different running styles. Royster is still the more calculating power back, while Redd has explosiveness and lightning-quick feet.
"His lateral quickness is unlike anybody's I've ever seen," Royster said.
The senior three-year starter isn't concerned about losing carries to Redd.
"It's not a big deal," Royster said. "It's whatever we need to do to win. The fact that we can both be out there and get some carries and control the clock is big for our offense.
"Silas is a great player," Royster added, "and the fact that we can open up lanes for him and get him in the open field is what we need. It's a big asset to our team."
SUBHD: McGloin to start
Bolden started but played only two series against Northwestern before McGloin came in for the remainder of the game.
Paterno initially declined to say who will start this week before eventually singling out McGloin. The coach did say Bolden may play some, as well, and he noted that improvements from other aspects of the team have helped the new quarterback.
"McGloin has benefited from the fact that the offensive line is a little bit more consistent, has a little bit more confidence in the timing, the backs have a little bit more confidence in what they're doing [and] we're catching the ball a little better," Paterno said.
Kirk Herbstreit from ESPN's "College GameDay" visited Penn State on Tuesday to interview McGloin. The segment is set to run on Saturday's show, which will originate from Columbus.
It should be an interesting interview given that a few weeks ago, after Herbstreit made critical remarks about the quarterback, McGloin played well against Minnesota and told reporters to tell Herbstreit, "I'm gunning for him."
SUBHD: Quoting ...
"After our sixth game when we were 3-3, we had a player squad [meeting] and we said, 'We're gonna win the next six.' And now after practice, we're counting down, and on three we would yell 'six' and then 'five' and 'four.' And this week it will be 'three.' I think it's just the mindset that our team has really come together and decided that we are gonna win the next however many games." -- Evan Royster