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PSU's Evan Royster runs into league play

Evan Royster reminded everyone on Saturday that he's still a very good football player.

And when the Penn State senior running back woke up Sunday, his body reminded him, too.

"I'm a lot more sore than I've been in the last couple of weeks," Royster said. "[Monday] was definitely a tough practice for me because I'm still beat up."

Twenty-six carries and 187 rushing yards tends to have that effect.

Royster broke out of his slump in a big way against Temple. He dashed 50 yards on the first play from scrimmage, eclipsing his rushing totals from each of the first three games (40, 32 and 38).

The former All-Big Ten back added runs of 19, 17 and 14 yards in Penn State's hard-fought 22-13 victory. After recording no more than 11 carries in the first three contests, Royster matched his career high against Temple.

He was the featured back he had hoped to be in deciding to return to Penn State for his senior season. And the timing couldn't have been better, as Penn State needs another boost from Royster this week when it visits No. 17 Iowa.

"It's tough to move the ball on these guys," he said. "They're always in the right spot. It's tough to get a crack against them."

Royster said after the Temple game that the criticism he received the first three weeks "kind of pissed me off." The senior hadn't met with reporters for several weeks and said Tuesday that he "wanted to be ... in my own head and not have to deal with everything."

"It's helped me realize that people aren't always going to be talking good about you," Royster said. "I kind of use it to fuel the fire."

The only potential upside from Royster's slow start is that he didn't take many hits and felt little soreness after facing Youngstown State, Alabama or Kent State. But the senior still would much rather be sore and productive.

The only other time Royster received 26 carries came against Iowa in 2008, when he rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown in a heart-wrenching 24-23 loss that removed Penn State from national title consideration. After back-to-back upset losses to the Hawkeyes, Royster can't wait to get the ball Saturday night.

"We hold a grudge against them," Royster admitted. "That's something that's going to fire us up and make us want to win this game more."