Saturday’s Penn State Nittany Lion football game is the first season opener for the program without Hall of Famer Joe Paterno as head coach since 1965.
It's also the first game since the NCAA handed down landmark sanctions on the program because of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Paterno was fired days after Sandusky was arrested in November.
It's the first time the players who decided to stay the course with new head coach Bill O'Brien will take the field since the NCAA allowed players to seek immediate transfers in light of the sanctions. Nine players have moved on since the penalties were announced July 23, most notably 1,200-yard rusher Silas Redd.
Bowl games and Big Ten titles are out for the next four years. More than 90 percent of the roster stayed, but the defections have many pundits counting out Penn State as a Big Ten also-ran.
Part of O'Brien's job this week is to help keep his players' emotions in check, beyond the usual opening-day jitters. Many players have said they've been energized by a university community that has rallied around players who had nothing to do with the scandal but have taken the brunt of the punishment.