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Ohio spoils Penn State's emotional opener under Bill O'Brien | Game of the Day
A white towel draped over his shoulder, the new Penn State coach in the white polo shirt donned headphones to communicate with his assistants...
The Associated Press
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — A white towel draped over his shoulder, the new Penn State coach in the white polo shirt donned headphones to communicate with his assistants in the press box as he paced the sideline.
These are now Bill O'Brien's Nittany Lions — and they are off to a disappointing start.
In front of 97,000 vocal fans eager to just watch football again, Penn State let an 11-point halftime lead slip away and Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton accounted for three second-half touchdowns to hand O'Brien a 24-14 loss in his coaching debut.
"I thought it was a great atmosphere in the stands," O'Brien said before stoically taking responsibility for the loss. "Again, it starts with me and coaching better and making sure we play better next time."
For many fans, just watching a game at Beaver Stadium represented a small victory following a trying offseason that included the death of former coach Joe Paterno, and crippling NCAA sanctions placed on the program for the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.
"We are ... Penn State," the anxious crowd roared in the fourth quarter, even in the final minutes with defeat assured. It was the first loss to open a season for Penn State since falling 33-7 to Miami in 2001.
There were some other changes, too: players' names on the backs of the uniforms, and blue ribbons on the back of the helmets to show support for victims of child sexual abuse.
Paterno's widow, Sue Paterno, watched the game from a stadium suite.
Even in defeat, Saturday was a huge first step.
Ohio coach Frank Solich knew Saturday would be unlike an average game day.
"We knew that we were going to have to take on a surge. That surge would come from their fans, come from their players, the atmosphere. We knew it would be a difficult atmosphere to play in," Solich said. "What we told them is, 'We just have to keep pounding, fellas. This is a game that's going to be a four-quarter football game.' "