Michael Mauti (knee) carted off

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti was carted off the field Saturday with what appeared to be a severe left knee injury, but coach Bill O'Brien refused to rule him out for next week.

"I don't know the diagnosis," O'Brien said.

"I've coached the greatest. I've coached a Hall of Fame quarterback and Hall of Fame receivers and great players. And he's one of the most special players I've been around."

A Penn State spokesman said the severity of Mauti's injury could be known as early as Sunday. Linebacker Mike Hull, who took over for the fifth-year senior, told ESPN he expected to hear a prognosis Monday or Tuesday.

Beaver Stadium fell silent midway through the first quarter when Mauti crumpled to the turf after a low block on his left knee, the same one he tore an ACL in last season, forcing him to miss nine games. Fullback Michael Zordich patted him on the shoulder before he was taken to the locker room.

Penn State's student section gave him a standing ovation, and fellow senior linebacker Gerald Hodges dropped to one knee to offer a quick prayer.

"I just told him I loved him," Hodges said. "I love Michael Mauti. We've been through a lot since we've been here."

Mauti, a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, leads the Nittany Lions this season with 96 tackles, three forced fumbles and three interceptions. His teammates have often pegged him as the leader of the defense.