By GENARO C. ARMAS
AP Sports Writer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Purdue and its pass-happy offense might be the last team the Penn State defense wants to see Saturday.
Then again, if the Nittany Lions "D" can rebound against the Boilermakers, it might take some of the sting away from last weekend's humbling 20-point loss to No. 1 Ohio State.
A win for Penn State (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) could send the blue-and-white faithful home happy after the final home game of the year. But Joe Paterno isn't taking anything for granted.
"We will have our hands full," said JoePa, in his record-setting 42nd season as head coach. "This will be a difficult game for us, because this is as good of a Purdue team -- sometimes your memory plays tricks on you -- but I think it's as good of a Purdue team as I've seen."
A victory for either team could solidify their chances of securing a spot in a New Year's Day bowl game like the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.
As is typically the case, the Boilermakers (7-2, 3-2) make headlines with their offense. Purdue is throwing the ball around the field like a typical Joe Tiller-coached team.
Senior quarterback Curtis Painter (268.9 yards per game) has thrown for 24 touchdowns this season and likes to play catch with receiver Dorien Bryant, who has caught eight scores and leads the Big Ten with 64 receptions.
It could be another tough test for Penn State cornerback Justin King and a secondary that will miss safety Tony Davis (appendix) for a second straight week. Davis will likely be replaced again by Mark Rubin, who hopes some extra film study this week will help him get ready for the Boilermakers.
"Get back to practice and work as hard as you can everyday," said Rubin, a converted receiver. "At night when you're with homework, pop in the tape and gain an extra hour of film so that you can prepare for next week."
To be successful, Penn State might need more pressure on the quarterback than the one sack tallied last week against the Buckeyes. Paterno said his coaching staff fell short in some areas and hopes to do a better job this week.
Despite recent struggles, Penn State still ranks 12th in the country in total defense (298.8 ypg) and second in sacks (36).
Painter is certain the Nittany Lions defense will come out ready to push people around.
"They're a very physical team," Painter said. "I think it's something that doesn't change much from year to year. They're always defensively sound."
The pace is usually set in Happy Valley by the linebackers -- this is Linebacker U., after all.
Middle linebacker Dan Connor, who calls the shots as defensive captain, will be appearing at Beaver Stadium for the final time, along with 16 other seniors.
It could be an even more memorable afternoon for Connor if he breaks the school's career tackles record. He needs five to pass former teammate Paul Posluszny (372), who set the mark last season.
"Can anyone in the room tell me the last time Penn State had inadequate linebackers? I certainly couldn't name the day," said Tiller, Purdue's 64-year-old head coach. "It would be pre-Tiller that's for sure. And I'm talking about Tiller's birth, not Tiller's appearance here at Purdue."