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Penn State going to a bowl crosses a 'line'

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,College,Scott Gleeson
When asked how he felt about his father's name being removed from the Big Ten championship trophy, Jay Paterno didn't flinch.

"The only reaction I had was 'Let's get there and win it and put it back on. We'll bring it on a Post-it note,'?" the Penn State quarterbacks coach said on ESPN.

When Penn State plays at Wisconsin on Saturday to decide the Leaders Division and earn a conference championship game berth, a football program that has been flipped upside down by a child sex abuse scandal will continue to carry on an idea former coach Joe Paterno preached: the "blue line."

It's a fundamental tenet of the Paterno era: Once you step over the line to play football, the outside world no longer exists.

The "blue line" has been especially vital in a time when the outside world has seen Penn State's 84-year-old football coach, athletic director, school president and vice president removed in the wake of one of biggest scandals in the history of college athletics after former assistant Jerry Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse.

The 20th-ranked Nittany Lions recovered from a post-Paterno loss to Nebraska with a 20-14 win over Ohio State, but an away matchup against the 15th-ranked Badgers will be the team's truest test.

If Penn State wins against Wisconsin and then Michigan State in the Big Ten title game, it could earn a bid to the Rose Bowl. While schools that have been hit with less explosive controversies -- Miami and USC -- are not participating in a bowl game, Penn State still will get a chance to finish its season with a bowl.

- Scott Gleeson

sgleeson@washingtonexaminer.com

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