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Week 12 Presser Roundup - Coach O'Brien Previews Wisconsin

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State will play its final game of the 2012 season on Saturday against Wisconsin on what will be a memorable Senior Day in Beaver Stadium.

The Nittany Lions practiced on Tuesday afternoon in shells following Coach O'Brien's weekly press conference to preview Saturday's game.  Take a look through some of his key remarks.

8338294.jpegHonoring the Senior Class
There is work to be done this week for the Nittany Lions as they prepare to take on a talented Wisconsin team that will play in the Big Ten Championship Game next week, but it is also a week-long tribute to a group of seniors that will go down in Penn State history as one of the all-time best.  No group of players has faced more adversity, and no group of players deserves a proper send off more than this group does.  What the 31 seniors who will be recognized before Saturday's game have done for the program is beyond the call of duty ever asked from a collection of seniors in Penn State's history.

"It's hard to put into words, in my opinion, what this senior class means to this football program, to this athletic department, and to this University," O'Brien said.  "I think people have to understand within those walls over there at the football building these guys will always mean a lot to this football program, mean a lot."

Be In Your Seats at 3 p.m. Saturday
Penn State fans can do their part in helping pay tribute to the seniors by arriving to Saturday's game early.  The senior class members and their families will be introduced at 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.  Coach O'Brien and the squad encourages all fans to be in their seats by 3 p.m. to give the seniors the sendoff they deserve.

"I want to make sure everybody knows is at three o'clock on Saturday, we need everybody here," Coach O'Brien said.  "We need everybody here because we're going to honor this senior class and their families.  That's a big deal.  And I know that we have honored the seniors in the past, but I don't think we have included their families.  We're going to honor ‑‑ that's the least we can do for this senior class, this particular one this year, is honor them.  So we need everybody in their seats at three on Saturday."

Hull Stepping In at Linebacker
No one can replace the leadership qualities senior linebacker Michael Mauti brought to the field for the Nittany Lion defense.  But sophomore Mike Hull will meet the task of filling Mauti's shoes with hard-nosed, instinctive football at the linebacker spot alongside Glenn Carson and Gerald Hodges on Saturday.  Hull has been a productive player on defense and special teams throughout the season for the Nittany Lions.  Hull's future in Blue and White is extremely bright, and Saturday will be an opportunity for the Pittsburgh native to step up for the Lion defense.

"Mike Hull, here is a guy that's been our fourth linebacker all year; he's made big plays for us on defense and special teams," O'Brien said.  "He's an instinctive guy, he's a Pittsburgh guy, he's a football guy.  He was in my office last night and we were talking' football.  This guy is a rock solid football dude so he's going to go in there and play as hard as he can and it's going to be fun to watch him play."

Wisconsin Scouting Report
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball enters Saturday's game needing one touchdown to break the NCAA career record for touchdowns (78).  Ball, who leads the Big Ten in rushing, is the focal point of a physical Badger offense.

"Starting on offense I see a physical, big, tough football team that is going to run ‑‑ personally a football team that I really admire," O'Brien said.  "They're not an east/west team they're a north/south team and they've got obviously a great running back in Ball, great tight ends, it's going to be a challenge for our defense on Saturday."

Defensively, Wisconsin ranks No. 13 nationally in scoring defense (15.3 points per game).  The Badgers are very good against the run.  Additionally, Wisconsin has held its last six opponents under 300 yards.  Of the 122 rushing attempts by Wisconsin opponents during the last four weeks only five have gone for more than 10 yards.

"When I look at their defense I think they're stout, physical, they led the Big Ten in rushing defense; they only give up 300 total yards a game on defense, so big challenge," O'Brien said.  "Are we going to be able to run the football?  Is that something we're going to be able to do?  We have to be able to do that.  We can't go in there and throw it 60 times, that's not our identity, that's not what we do.  We try to be balanced.  So a big challenge for our team."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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