Wednesday, July 23, 2014





Forget the birthday: It's Ohio State week


February 19. 2013 1:23PM


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Bill O'Brien sighed at the mention of his birthday.


The Penn State coach claimed he didn't realize Tuesday was his 43rd birthday until one of his older brothers texted him in the morning.


I'm not a big birthday guy, O'Brien said at his weekly press conference before rattling off a list of things he doesn't enjoy, including weddings, theme parks and going to the beach.


No word on how he feels about brown paper packages tied up with strings.


This week it's Ohio State and little else on the minds of O'Brien and the Nittany Lions, who host the unbeaten Buckeyes at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Beaver Stadium.


This is Ohio State, O'Brien said. This is a big game. For me to sit up here and say it's not a big game is crazy. It's Ohio State.


Despite the fact that both teams are under NCAA sanctions and are banned from the postseason this year, the anticipation for the annual rivalry game is as high as ever. For O'Brien, his players and for fans as well.


The student organization Nittanyville -- the tent town that springs up outside of Gate A to camp out at the stadium before big games -- announced Monday night that it already had a record number of participants.


Attendance is very likely to break the 100,000 mark, a first for Penn State since last year's Nebraska home finale, just days after the Jerry Sandusky scandal exploded onto the national scene.


These guys have earned the right to play in this type of game, O'Brien said of his players. ... Everything we've asked them to do, they've done.


On Saturday, they'll be asked to contain Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller. The Ohio State quarterback suffered a form of whiplash and was briefly hospitalized after a violent tackle last Saturday but has been cleared to practice.


Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday that Miller has been cleared to practice and that his status for Saturday will depend on the soreness of his quarterback's neck.


The Buckeyes will prepare both Miller and backup Kenny Guiton to start, though Miller is expected to play most, if not all of the game.


To get ready for Miller, Penn State is using former WVC standout Eugene Lewis to simulate him in practice. A star as a mobile quarterback at Wyoming Valley West, the redshirting Lewis has become something of a scout team all-star for the Lions, often playing the role of the opposition's top athlete during the week.


It's only been one practice from Monday, but he's doing a good job running Braxton Miller, senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill said. He's been great, especially on scramble drills.


Fellow District 2 alum Nyeem Wartman was not listed on the injury report for the first time since hurting his knee against Virginia and is back practicing at linebacker. O'Brien said Wartman is available to play if he is needed.




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