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Thursday, November 22, 2012
5 storylines: Penn State vs. Wisconsin

By Josh Moyer

Montee Ball
Montee Ball had a monster day against Penn State last season.

Every week, NittanyNation takes a look at five storylines that stand out: What should fans keep an eye on? What's the bigger picture? What might be on display Saturday?

Here are NittanyNation's Week 13 storylines:

1. No Michael Mauti on Senior Day. After an emotional season that's already exceeded expectations, Penn State's senior leader will miss the final game of the season with a left knee injury. The severity of the injury isn't yet known, but it's widely considered to very serious. Mauti told the team to worry about him next week and focus on Wisconsin in the meantime. Penn State's defense won't be the same without him Saturday, but he's still hoping to motivate the team.

2. Stopping Montee Ball. He's rebounded in a big way after a slow start to the season, and he absolutely dominated Penn State last year. In the last matchup, he rushed for 156 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 6.4 yards a touch. It's no secret he's the key to Wisconsin's offense, and Penn State's odds of winning are directly tied to whether it can stop Ball.

3. Records could be broken. Ball is just one score away from the NCAA record for total career touchdowns (78), and Allen Robinson needs just 107 receiving yards to break Penn State's single-season record of 1,084 yards. Robinson's chances of breaking that record seemed in doubt until he hauled in 10 catches for 197 yards last week. Ball is almost a lock to make history Saturday, but Robinson might not be far behind.

4. Will Penn State's offense struggle? Matt McGloin put on a clinic against lowly Indiana, but Wisconsin statistically boasts the best defense Penn State has seen all year. The Badgers enter this contest with the 11th-best defense in the country and allow about 300 yards a game. Nebraska's secondary may have been slightly better, but McGloin didn't fare well in Lincoln. He completed less than half his passes and tossed an interception. In his final game, he's hoping for to avoid a repeat of that performance against Wisconsin.

5. Injuries piling up for PSU. Safety Malcolm Willis remains day-to-day and didn't practice Tuesday. The secondary struggled without him -- his teammates call him the quarterback of the defense -- and his absence would hand Wisconsin a few soft spots to target. Defensive tackle James Terry is also day-to-day, and tight end Kyle Carter remains out. Without Mauti and Co., the Nittany Lions will need their "Next man up" philosophy to work again Saturday.