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Penn State's linemen nothing but business against Badgers

10/12/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin's offensive line is an imposing group of super-sized men -- average weight: 322 pounds -- but the Badgers' behemoths didn't intimidate Penn State's Aaron Maybin on Saturday night.

Maybin might not have seen a bigger group this season, but the defensive end certainly sees a meaner one every week in practice.

"We have the meanest offensive line that I've gone against," Maybin said. "I haven't really played against an offensive line that I feel is better than ours."

"You can't really teach being mean. That's just something that everybody on our offensive line has in 'em."

Maybin and the rest of the Lions defensive linemen aren't exactly nice guys. Just ask the Wisconsin ball-carriers who paid the price throughout Saturday night's game at Camp Randall Stadium. Penn State's ability to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball resulted in total domination, a 48-7 win that put the sixth-ranked Nittany Lions in the national championship discussion.

Maybin, who had 3.5 tackles for loss, led a defense that shut out Wisconsin in the second half, forced a quarterback change and held bruising backs P.J. Hill and John Clay in check. A veteran-laden Lions offensive line kept Daryll Clark clean -- no sacks allowed for the third time this season -- and provided the quarterback plenty of time to find his open receivers.

Wisconsin's experienced defensive front was a non-factor. Left tackle Gerald Cadogan and his teammates had faced a bigger test earlier in the week.

"I'm well prepared for anybody else," Cadogan said. "I don't think there's anybody that can match Maybin's speed here in the Big Ten. Going against that, whether it's Josh Gaines or Maurice Evans, they're great defensive ends."

"It's a constant battle in practice, doing 1-on-1's and 9-on-7's and different drills that we [do] throughout the week."

Maybin has been one of the defense's bigger surprises. He entered Saturday night's game leading the Big Ten in sacks (7) and ranking third in tackles for loss (9). The sophomore turned in another ferocious performance that included two forced fumbles, a sack, a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup. His only problem might be his size (6-4, 245 pounds).

"He's doing really well," head coach Joe Paterno said. "I just wish I could put a little weight on him. The guy doesn't eat. He's so quick and he's an aggressive player. You can see that."

Maybin and the rest of the Lions' linemen remain hungry for a Big Ten title -- and a shot at the national title.

"We don't practice for nothing and go through the motions," Cadogan said. "We're definitely out there to establish Penn State."