The Nittany Lions (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) have taken it easier in practice this week and used it as a time not to scout the opponent, but themselves.
"It's been a productive bye week," coach Bill O'Brien said. "We've done a lot of self-scouting up in the meeting rooms as a staff and I think the kids have come out here and practiced up-tempo the past two days."
Here at the halfway point, Penn State could probably afford to self-scout its offense more so than defense - the Lions' offense is seventh in the Big Ten in points per game at 27, while its defense is second in points allowed per game at 16.
A closer look at the offense shows a running game that has been less effective than passing, as Penn State is 10th in the conference in rushing yards per game at 138.3 but second in passing yards per game at 251.8.
Still, things have taken a major turn for the better for the Lions in the past month. After starting the season absent from the Associated Press poll, Penn State is now receiving a singular vote after beating Navy, Temple, Illinois and Northwestern. The Lions' two losses to Ohio and Virginia began the year with a sour taste in their mouths, but they have since rebounded.
"We wish we could play every Saturday from here on out, but it's always good to go into a bye week with a win and feeling good like this right now," fullback Michael Zordich said.
Penn State gets to relax before heading to Iowa next weekend for a prime-time clash with the Hawkeyes, who play at Michigan State on Saturday.
"It's big, especially when we're exactly in the middle of the year, it's big to get rested up and all the bumps and bruises will go away, and we can just get a chance to relax for a couple of days," Hill said.
O'Brien said the bye week in college is also used as a time to let players concentrate on their studies. And while the players are getting a chance to take the week a little easy, O'Brien isn't on vacation. The coach said he's already started preparations for Iowa and has a full slate.
"There's no break. Maybe get out of here a little earlier, things like that, but like I said, we got a very tough Iowa team," O'Brien said. "Guys are gonna go out and recruit, I'll be out recruiting on Friday, and we'll be back in here getting ready for Iowa on the weekend."
Penn State linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges are not listed as quarterfinalists for the Lombardi Award, which is given annually to the best lineman or linebacker in the nation.
Mauti has won a National Defensive Player of the Week Award this year and two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week awards, while Hodges has one. Four other Big Ten players are on the list, but not Mauti or Hodges.
When asked about the Mauti snub, Bill O'Brien spoke about both players.
"It's a team game and I'm sure Mauti doesn't look at those things, but in my opinion if he's not one of the top five linebackers in the country, I'm not sure who is," O'Brien said. "I don't know who chooses those things . . . but in my opinion that's a mistake . . . Hodges played a great game against Northwestern and he got the game ball for his efforts, so both those guys are having really good years."