Bittersweet game as PSU seniors say goodbye to Beaver Stadium
A child of the Carolinas, Ty Howle experienced “culture shock” upon enrolling at Penn State in January 2009.
“Life's a little faster here than back home,” the Nittany Lions' center recalled immediately observing.
What Howle couldn't have envisioned was just how fast his time would go.
“People always told me throughout my career, ‘Watch it, it's going to go by fast,' ” fellow senior teammate Glenn Carson said. “It really has. It's flown by. I can't believe this weekend will be the last time walking out of the Beaver Stadium tunnel.”
Howle and Carson are two of 17 players who will be honored as part of Senior Day ceremonies prior to the 3:30 p.m. Saturday kickoff between Penn State (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) and Nebraska (7-3, 4-2) at Beaver Stadium.
Carson and Howle are two of eight fifth-year seniors; Howle enrolled in January 2009. That would have been days after the Lions played Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl at the completion of the 2008 season.
Since then, Howle has been through the good (41-20 record) and the bad (Jerry Sandusky indictment, heavy NCAA sanctions) of five years in Penn State's program that featured more head coaches (three) than the previous 59 years combined.
“I'm excited for this game, playing in front of the fans at Beaver Stadium for the final time,” Howle said. “It's tough after being here five years, you realize it's coming to an end and there's only two games left, and this is the last one here at Beaver Stadium. It's definitely bittersweet.”
Although the past four years haven't had as many wins as some Penn State classes have enjoyed, these seniors will remain part of school lore because they rode out their time despite being given a rare “free pass” from the NCAA to transfer elsewhere without penalty.
“You think about it, 10 years from now when you look back on the last two senior classes, they'll be an important part of Penn State football history,” coach Bill O'Brien said. “They'll be a part of that.”
Harnessing the emotions of the spectacle will be important if Penn State is to complete a conference home season 4-0 for the first time since 2008.
Last season, the Lions seemed to be buoyed by the “2012” being added to the stadium ring of honor before beating Wisconsin in overtime.
“That's crucial — we can't let emotions get the best of us,” Carson said. “Especially with this team. It's a team that loves playing with each other, so it's definitely going to be an emotional time. We just have to stay focused on the task. This is a tough Nebraska team to go against.”