STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Levi Brown clutched the football tightly against his chest. There was a special handoff he needed to make after Penn State's 47-0 rout of Temple.
"The game ball is going to go to coach Paterno," the left tackle said. "Wherever he's at, I'm going to take it to him."
With Joe Paterno watching from home, missing his first game in nearly three decades, Penn State (7-4) overwhelmed the Owls. Tony Hunt had a career day with 167 yards rushing and four touchdowns, Derrick Williams scored on a 75-yard punt return and the Nittany Lions held Temple (1-10) to two first downs.
The 79-year-old Paterno, recovering from left leg surgery, missed a game for just the second time in his 41 years as Penn State coach. He watched from home a day after being released from Mount Nittany Medical Center, handing the reins to his assistant coaches Saturday.
He did give his squad a pep talk over a speakerphone, though.
"What really hit home is when he said, 'Good luck guys, I love you," star linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "Even though he wasn't here, he was definitely with us in spirit."
Posluszny and Brown, the team captains, planned to stop by Paterno's house Saturday night to present the game ball. Had he been there in person, JoePa might have given it to Hunt, who surpassed the 3,000-yard mark for his career on Saturday.
Two of his scoring runs came in the game's first six minutes, including a 26-yard scamper capped when the senior extended the ball over the goal line just before getting shoved out of bounds to give Penn State a 14-0 lead.
The Lions stopped the Owls on the next drive, so Jake Brownell boomed a 53-yard punt that would have pinned Penn State deep and swung momentum.
Instead, the Owls were penalized and forced to punt again. Williams backpedaled after looking the ball into his chest before bursting past would-be tacklers to jet untouched into the end zone for a 21-0 lead.
Penn State led 31-0 at the half, and Nittany Lion reserves took the field by midway through the third quarter.
Temple, with Division I-A's worst offense, mustered just 74 total yards. Quarterback Adam DiMichele was 7-of-17 for 52 yards and one interception, and ran for minus-13 yards on seven carries.
"As I sit here, I'd have to dig pretty deep to find some things I was pleased about," Temple coach Al Golden said.
The blue-and-white faithful relished the blowout, chants of "We are ...Penn State" reverberated through the stands.
Only Paterno was missing.
He was recovering from surgery to repair a broken shinbone and two torn knee ligaments in a left leg damaged after an ugly sideline collision during Penn State's loss to Wisconsin on Nov. 4.
Paterno skipped the game to concentrate on his recovery. The last JoePa-less game for Penn State was in 1977, after his son David was involved in an accident.
"I'm sure Joe was dying, chomping at the bit to get back but," Golden said. "They probably strapped him down to keep him out of this stadium."
Fans missed him. "Roll up your pants for JoePa" read one banner hanging in the cheering Penn State student section. Even the off-and-on rain couldn't dampen the mood of Nittany Nation.
Only the Owls didn't seem to be enjoying themselves.
They hurt themselves with penalties and mistakes, and couldn't capitalize on any Penn State blunders.
Temple defensive back David Reese intercepted a pass in the first quarter, but Penn State got the ball back on the next play after Posluszny leveled Travis Shelton and forced a fumble.
The win gets Penn State one step closer toward a possible berth in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1; bowl representatives watched the contest from the press box.
First though, Penn State needs to win their season finale next week against Michigan State, a game which doctors have said Paterno could possibly coach -- as long as it's from a coach's box above the field.
For now, the players will have to do with get-well visits at Paterno's house and listening to what Brown called the coach's "squeaky voice" over the phone.
"I missed it a little bit," Brown joked. "But I didn't have to worry about him screaming at me about a missed block. That was pretty good."
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