Some recent news items in sports worthy of comment while leaning toward heads in the Super Bowl coin flip:
ITEM: Penn State's on a roll.
OK, it's won one in a row after shaking off a slow start to blow out Iowa on Wednesday night.
The Nittany Lions (11-8 overall, 4-4 in the Big Ten) are clearly playing better than they did earlier in the season when they squandered chances to win non-conference points by laying an egg against Maryland and then losing at Virginia Tech and Mississippi.
Not to mention the loss to Maine, which cast a dark cloud over the season that will be difficult to overcome.
But everybody deserves a second chance, and Penn State is making strides toward capitalizing on its.
Entering another significant opportunity at 4 p.m. Saturday against visiting Wisconsin, the Lions have won three of their last five Big Ten games with the two losses coming in the closing seconds at Ohio State followed by a borderline shafting at Purdue.
With Talor Battle as a constant, Jeff Brooks emerging and Andrew Jones playing closer to the way he did at Madison Square Garden, this truly is a Penn State team that - if it can get there - could win a couple of games in the real tournament.
The question is: Will anybody notice?
The Lions have drawn more than 8,000 just twice this season - in their early collapse to an average Maryland team and then for a Saturday matinee victory over Michigan State.
Since, the Jordan Center has been one-third full, at best.
Saturday, the moons are aligned for some atmosphere. It's not a 9 p.m. weeknight tip, and there shouldn't be a blizzard.
Those components won't be factors if the Nits become consistent winners - and beating the Badgers would be a starting point.
ITEM:?Trouble brews at Iowa.
A total of 13 Iowa football players were hospitalized Monday due to severe overexertion.
The case is of "grave concern," Hawkeye school officials said.
This is not about running one too many laps. One player posted on Facebook that he was squatting 240 pounds 100 times and "it was timed," he said.
A total of 21 college football players have died during the "offseason" in the past decade, thanks in part to "workouts" like the one Iowa sanctioned Monday.
Kirk Ferentz was a coveted commodity a few years ago. But this along with the Hawkeyes' collapse last season, amid a number of off-field issues, have taken the shine off his crown.
ITEM: UConn booster wants input.
Connecticut benefactor Robert Burton reportedly wants $3 million back from the $7 million he donated to the school because he wasn't consulted on the hiring of football coach Paul Pasqualoni.
Burton apparently hasn't heard Joe Paterno's thoughts many years ago when he embarked on fundraising for the athletic department: "I want your money, but I don't want your two cents."
ITEM: Shots taken at Cutler.
Jay Cutler isn't the most popular player in the NFL, but he became an unfair target by fellow players with no idea how seriously he was injured in the NFC final against Green Bay.
I found it particularly ironic that one of Cutler's most vocal critics was Maurice Jones-Drew.
Jones-Drew's absence, due to injury, was the biggest factor in Jacksonville's overtime loss to Washington in Week No. 16 and, with it, my painful elimination from our survivor pool.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.