Penn State faced an incredibly emotional challenge in taking the field last week at home against Nebraska amid the scandal that has seemingly swallowed State College, Pa. whole. This week vs. Ohio State, the Nittany Lions will face their first hostile road crowd since the Jerry Sandusky investigation became big-time national news.
Almost lost with all the off-field noise on campus and in the news is that the Nittany Lions are still in control of their own destiny when it comes to securing a spot in the Big 10 title game. But while the news around Penn State has focused on the scandal the team has done what it can to concentrate on football.
"I think a lot of times, with everything that swirls around them, they enjoy coming to practice because it's the one time they can just kind of be with themselves," head coach Tom Bradley said on Tuesday. "No one's asking them questions; they're there to play football. And they know they have a job to do this week. We're still in the hunt for this Big Ten Championship. And they know where we're headed, going out to The Horseshoe; they know it's going to be a tough football game."
Still, it's an odd vibe for this classic Big 10 clash. Both teams led by interim coaches. Both teams embroiled in scandal.
"It's still Ohio State-Penn State," Bradley said. "One of the things I want to emphasize right now; this is all about the players, it's about our team, their team.
"It's still football," he added. "Great atmosphere, college football, playing at the Horseshoe. Doesn't get any better than that."