UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Appalachian State's stunning victory against Michigan in last year's opening week was a landmark win for Division I-AA schools.
But Coastal Carolina coach David Bennett, whose team began I-AA play in 2003, realizes upset victories like Appalachian State's are rare.
Bennett just hopes his Chanticleers don't get embarrassed when they square off against the Nittany Lions today in their non-conference opener at Beaver Stadium.
Coastal Carolina is near the golf mecca of Myrtle Beach, S.C. So naturally, Bennett used golf terminology to size up the lopsided matchup.
"I tell all my buddies that play golf, coaching against Joe Paterno is going to be like you going out and playing [Tiger] Woods or [Phil] Mickelson without a handicap," Bennett said, laughing. "There sure ain't no handicap involved with this.
"That's a tall task, Coastal Carolina going to beat Penn State. ... It would be nice at halftime not to be getting obliterated."
Today will mark the first time Coastal Carolina has faced a Division I-A school. And Bennett, who is 39-17 in five seasons, has never faced a coach with credentials as lofty as Paterno's.
"He's an American hero to me," Bennett said.
"He ought to retire whenever he wants, whether he's 90 or 100.
"He's a great man and class act that a lot of us younger coaches look up to."
Matchup: No. 22 Penn State (9-4 last year) vs. Coastal Carolina (5-6), noon today, Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa. No line.
TV/Radio: Big Ten Network; WEAE-AM (1250) and Penn State Sports Network. Games also can be heard at www.gopsusports.com.
Penn State: Is 35-7 in home openers under coach Joe Paterno. ... Ranked No. 4 in the nation in total defense (297.3 ypg) and tied for No. 4 in scoring defense (16.0 ppg) the past four years. ... More than 40 members of the undefeated 1968 and '69 squads will be honored.
Coastal Carolina: Fifth-year senior quarterback William Richardson is the brother of former Penn State quarterback Wally Richardson. He started 10 games last season, throwing 13 TDs and 7 INTs. ... All-Big South senior tackle Britt Leggett and junior center Ryan Boehm are among five returning starters on the offensive line.
Hidden stat: Penn State is playing a team from South Carolina for the first time since meeting Clemson in the Citrus Bowl 20 years ago.
Ron Musselman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .