Being the underdog in three-straight bouts is rare for the No. 5 wrestler in the nation.
But that's what Penn State 149-pounder Frank Molinaro is experiencing right now -- at least on paper.
The sophomore is set to square off with No. 1 Brent Metcalf of Iowa and No. 2 Kyle Ruschell of Wisconsin during the wrestling team's dual meets Friday and Sunday.
Molinaro heads into the matches coming off a tight 5-3 loss to Ohio State's No. 3 Lance Palmer.
Though the rankings suggest Molinaro is the underdog in these matchups, he believes he's just as talented as his opponents, and teammate Adam Lynch said Molinaro's mental strength may equal his physical strength.
"He's a very confident kid," Lynch said. "He definitely has a good mental frame of mind."
Comparing his mentality to his physical strength is high praise, as Lynch considers the 5-foot-5 Molinaro to be among the strongest on the team despite his smaller stature.
Molinaro said he'll prepare for his marquee matchups by watching a little more film this week.
While looking at Metcalf, he'll see a 2008 NCAA champion, as well as a 2009 Big Ten champion and NCAA runner-up, who currently has a 21-0 record this season.
Meanwhile, Ruschell is currently 20-1 on the year and is coming off a third-place finish at the 2009 NCAA Championships.
With four wrestlers in the top five, it's clear to see why Penn State assistant coach Cody Sanderson said the Big Ten's 149-pound wrestlers make up possibly the toughest weight class of any conference in the country.
Lynch believes Molinaro's task of competing against the top three wrestlers in the span of a week is one of the toughest any wrestler can experience.
However, Molinaro doesn't believe he's facing anything different than other wrestlers in the conference.
"A lot of people are probably seeing similar situations in the Big Ten since it's probably the toughest conference there is," Molinaro said.
Though his loss to Ohio State's Palmer had a few calls Molinaro believed could have been gone his way, the sophomore isn't making any excuses. He said it's up to him to make sure to perform well and make sure the match isn't put into the hands of the referees.
As for how he's handling this challenging string of bouts, Molinaro said he'll attack each match the same way whether his opponent is ranked No. 1 or No. 50.
However, the 149-pounder admitted to looking forward to the challenge he faces this weekend.
"I get a great opportunity this weekend against No. 1 and No. 2," Molinaro said. "It doesn't get any better than that."