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Joe Paterno Looks Beyond 400th Win, Prepares For Ohio State

As Penn State fans savor Joe Paterno's 400th career win, the coach is already thinking beyond it.

Joe Paterno didn't wait long to shift focus away from his 400th career victory and onto Penn State's task at hand following the Nittany Lions' thrilling 35-21 win against Northwestern on Saturday night at Beaver Stadium.

"Now that the celebration's over, let's go beat Ohio State," Paterno said to end a post-game ceremony commemorating his historic win.

Of course, for Penn State fans, the celebration of their legend is only just beginning, but doubtless, sometime in the next few hours, Paterno will pop in some Buckeye game tape in preparation for the Lions' big contest in Columbus next Saturday.

Just as he didn't allow his team to dwell on negatives following its 33-13 home loss to Illinois last month, he understands already that he can't allow his players to rest on the laurels of their latest triumph.

Of course, many will count Penn State out of this contest with the Buckeyes before they even arrive in Ohio, but those same folks were the ones who doubted 400 would come this season, either. Yet, here we stand with three games left in 2010, and not only does Paterno have 400, but bowl eligibility as well.

So for the Lions, it appears to be full speed ahead. With 30+ points in each of the last three weeks, the Penn State offense looks like it's clicking behind quarterback Matt McGloin. After pitching a second half shut out against a potent Northwestern attack, the defense doesn't look far behind, either.

The Buckeyes will be tough, as they always are. In fact, the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions have taken the last five Big Ten titles. However, if Penn State is the the team it has looked like at points in the last three games, the Lions have more than a puncher's chance.

Over the next few days, Penn State's 21-point comeback, the largest by a Paterno-coached team at home ever, will be something worth savoring for Penn State fans, but for the players, it's time to put it out of sight, out of mind.

It's Ohio State week, and win No. 400 will only carry full meaning if its battle cry is carried out on the way to 401.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.