THE STORY LINE
Paul Petrino’s last visit to
Beaver Stadium also happened to mark Joe Paterno’s last game as Penn State’s coach.
Petrino returns Saturday with a new team but expects a similar scene.
“You notice how big it is, how many people are there,” the
Idaho coach said this week.
"And it’s packed. It was packed all three times I was there. It’s a really cool atmosphere."
Petrino makes his fourth visit to Beaver Stadium on Saturday, when he’ll bring the Vandals for the first time. Idaho, where Petrino has coached the past six seasons, is the 158th different opponent in Penn State’s history. Idaho also is the first Football Championship Subdivision team Penn State has faced since 2011.
That year, Petrino was in his second season as offensive coordinator at Illinois. The Illini scored first and had a chance to force overtime, but their tying field-goal attempt hit an upright, and Penn State held on for a 10-7 victory. It marked Paterno’s 409th, and final, win at Penn State.
Petrino remembers the snow, the stadium’s size and the fans (“Really great people watch the games there," he said). But the coach had fonder memories of 2010, when his offense scored 33 points in a 20-point rout of the Lions. Petrino, who was brother Bobby’s offensive coordinator at Louisville, returns to Penn State with a unique offensive situation. The coach plans to play two quarterbacks: his son Mason, a senior who completed 60 percent of his passes last year, and Colton Richardson, a 6-4, 285-pound junior who started one game last year and threw 5 touchdown passes.
The coach also had some advice for his team.
“Let’s not go in there all star-struck,” Petrino said. “Let’s go in there to play a game.”