Penn State has the chance to grab its first win since 1997 this weekend after the NCAA vacated all of its wins from 1998 as part of unprecedented sanctions levied against the program this summer.
If the Nittany Lions do beat Ohio, though, it won't help their bowl standing. The sanctions ban Penn State from any postseason play for four seasons.
Don't get the wrong idea. Penn State's coaches, players, students and alumni are oh-so-ready for this game.
"To be honest, right now, it's kind of like the quiet before the storm," says redshirt junior tight end Garry Gilliam. "Everyone is really focused on what they're doing."
Those expecting a cakewalk win for the Lions because of their recent season openers should perhaps reconsider. Ohio was the preseason favorite to win the Mid-American Conference championship and is coming off a 10-4 campaign that culminated in the school's first-ever bowl win, as the Bobcats defeated Utah State in the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Bobcat quarterback, redshirt junior Tyler Tettleton, tossed 28 touchdowns to 10 interceptions last season for 3,302 yards, and rushed for a cool 658 yards and 10 scores.
But win or lose, Saturday will be the start of the O'Brien era.
Last names and blue ribbons will be parts of the uniforms. The offense will be working with a massive playbook. No longer does a bronze statue of Joe Paterno stand outside of Beaver Stadium; no longer is Paterno the winningest coach in Division I history.
In the end, Penn State students will probably remember that the game was actually played rather than the details of it.
As one might guess, emotions will be running very high.
"Everyone has their own separate emotions," senior center Matt Stankiewitch said. "I'm assuming everyone is super excited for the first game and we can't wait to kick off the ball on Saturday and start this season."
However, O'Brien noted the importance of keeping those emotions under control.
"I think our team is very, very excited," O'Brien said at Tuesday's press conference. " . . . I definitely will address throughout the week the emotions at the beginning of the game, because for everybody involved, it'll be just like most college football teams in the country."
So, Saturday, another season of Penn State begins. Questions like how O'Brien's NFL-inspired offense will work and how much the lack of depth at certain positions will affect the team still must be answered.
Nonetheless, football is back.
Penn State has signed off on an agreement that outlines the changes it will make and the new procedures it will adopt in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. The 13-page agreement includes oversight provisions as well as training and reporting requirements involving team monitors, the athletic director and a new Athletics Integrity Council. It took effect immediately.
The school agreed to adopt mechanisms designed to ensure staff, players and certain others "do not permit their collective or individual reverence or deference towards any individual, team or other aspect of the athletics department to undermine" aspects of NCAA, Big Ten and university rules.
Convicted sexual offender Jerry Sandusky has been recommended for designation as a sexually violent predator, a legal status that would require lifetime registration with authorities, according to a person who has read an assessment board's report to a judge in the case.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.