Penn State embraces underdog role

Stefen Wisniewski is getting used to this underdog thing. He kind of likes it.

"I think back to 2008, we were favorites in almost every game we played," said Wisniewski, Penn State's All-Big Ten senior guard. "It's certainly different to be No. 19 going to play No. 1. But at the same time, we embrace that."

No one is giving Penn State much of a chance to beat top-ranked Alabama on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET), even some Nittany Lions fans. Alabama looks too strong on both sides of the ball, while Penn State, at least to the outside world, seems to be reloading after losing seven All-Big Ten players from 2009.

Add in the fact that Nittany Lions true freshman Rob Bolden will be making his first career road start at quarterback, and it's hard to envision Penn State leaving Bryant-Denny Stadium with a W.

Even Penn State coach Joe Paterno, known to sandbag once or twice in his legendary career, said Tuesday, "I think we're outmanned for this one."

Asked about Paterno's comment Wednesday, Nittany Lions defensive tackle and co-captain Ollie Ogbu replied, "They play a lot of multiple sets of tight ends and linemen, so technically we're going to be outmanned."


Penn State players seem to have no problem with the gloomy outlook on the outside (or even from the inside with JoePa).

Their response: keep thinking that way.

"Who doesn't like proving somebody wrong when they say you're not good enough or not tough enough?" Ogbu said.

Wisniewski called the Alabama matchup the biggest game he's been a part of at Penn State. And he's started in the Rose Bowl.

According to Wisniewski, Penn State's intensity level in practice "has picked up noticeably" this week.

"We're not getting a lot of respect," he said. "To go try to knock off the defending national champs, it's a great opportunity."