Penn State's Bill O'Brien is all business as Iowa game approaches

Bill O'Brien plans to make sure his Penn State players do not look past Saturday's game at Iowa to an Oct. 27 meeting with Ohio State.
Bill O'Brien plans to make sure his Penn State players do not look past Saturday's game at Iowa to an Oct. 27 meeting with Ohio State. (GENE J. PUSKAR / Associated Press)
Posted: October 18, 2012

Bill O'Brien doesn't care about midseason praise. He doesn't buy into hoopla or hype.

And the first-year Penn State coach definitely doesn't care about what is said on Twitter.

So on Tuesday when O'Brien was asked about a Twitter post from senior cornerback Stephon Morris about facing Iowa - "We hate them, they hate us," Morris tweeted - O'Brien rolled his eyes and laughed.

"Tweet this, spacebook that, whatever," O'Brien said. "We've got to go play the game."

Indeed, O'Brien is maintaining his "one game at a time" approach as the Nittany Lions (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) prepare for Saturday's game against Iowa (4-2, 2-0) at Kinnick Stadium.

O'Brien dispelled any talk about Iowa and Penn State's rivalry. The Hawkeyes lead the series, 12-9, including some thrilling finishes in recent years.

O'Brien also quashed questions about the praise the Nittany Lions have received since stringing together a four-game winning streak. O'Brien's name has surfaced as an early candidate for national coach of the year.

Instead, the coach is focused on making sure his team is prepared to face a physically tough Big Ten opponent at a hostile environment. The Nittany Lions are coming off a bye week - many players went home over the weekend - and have a prime-time home matchup against No. 7 Ohio State on Oct. 27.

O'Brien doesn't want this week's game to be a trap.

"There's no question that Iowa has the momentum because they had a fantastic win over a very tough Michigan State team in double overtime," O'Brien said. "Our team needs to understand that, that it's one thing to have a bye week, but it's a whole 'nother thing to be playing a team like Iowa."

The 8 p.m. start marks Penn State's first night game of the season. O'Brien won't have his team practice at night this week - it's hard to coordinate with players' class schedules - though he plans on piping in loud music at practice to mimic the atmosphere at Kinnick Stadium.

When asked about playing at Iowa, senior safety Jake Fagnano smiled. He recalled the "crazy fans" who heckled Penn State players and an all-stadium black-and-yellow-out.

"I really don't think it's a game we would overlook, by any means," Fagnano said.

The coach said he was pleased with the energy level at practice on Monday, Penn State's first since taking the weekend off.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson said O'Brien didn't incorporate anything different in practice, but he could tell his coach was "fired up, as usual."

After beginning the season 0-2, the Nittany Lions are now tied for first place in the Big Ten Leaders Division with Ohio State.

But before the Nittany Lions get a crack at the Buckeyes, they must focus on this week's night game.

"Night games have a different feel to it," tight end Kyle Carter said. "We're going to play under the lights. That's when the stars come out."

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