Nothing has been easy for Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien since he took the job back in January and Saturday afternoon when he goes for career win No. 1 things are expected to be no different.
Unlike the past few seasons when the Nittany Lions have faced sub-par competition in their openers, Ohio will provide a stiff test to begin the year.
Senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill said that Ohio is undoubtedly the best team Penn State has faced to open the season in his career.
O'Brien knows his team will be tested by the Bobcats, a team that is continuing to rise under eighth year head coach Frank Solich.
"[Ohio] is an excellent football team," O'Brien said. "This is coach Solich's eighth year in the program, and this is probably his best football team. This is a team that was in the MAC Championship game last year, and this is a team that has huge aspirations for this year."
The excitement around the Bobcats that O'Brien alluded to is in part attributed to a 10-4 record from a season ago that included the school's first bowl victory.
The Bobcats also return a bevy of talent from last season, most notably their starting quarterback. Tyler Tettleton is looking to build off an impressive 2011 season where he became the first quarterback in Ohio history to throw from 3,000 yards in a season. He will provide a tough first test to an inexperienced Penn State secondary.
In addition to the record breaking season, Tettleton completed 64.3 percent of his passes and threw for 28 touchdowns.
But the junior quarterback also poses a threat with his legs. Last season he was the team's second leading rusher with 658 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"They make a lot of big plays, and have a lot of big playmakers," Penn State senior safety Malcolm Willis said. "Their receiving corps is a good core group of guys, and their quarterback, he makes everything go."
Tettleton has his third leading receiver from last year back in Donte Foster, who caught 30 passes for 352 yards and five touchdowns a season ago.
Hill said that the fast pace that Ohio plays with can make getting all the defensive signals in from the sideline difficult.
"Their system is very good, it's a high-paced, fast-paced offense," he said. "They're getting on the ball and snapping it right away. They're really trying to not let the defense get in play calls and stuff like that."
Defensively the Bobcats return two Second Team All-MAC selections from last season in cornerback Travis Carrie and defensive end Tremayne Scott. They led a unit last year that gave up 22.1 points per game and returns eight starters.
In all, Bobcats have 15 starters back on both sides of the ball.
O'Brien said that defensively Ohio is very well schooled and will show senior quarterback Matt McGloin multiple defensive looks.
"They're tough, they're sound, they have a lot of returning players back there on the defense," the coach said. "They do a lot of different things, they don't just line up and give you the same look two plays in a row. So we're going to have to try to be on top of our game and string some plays together and do the best we can on Saturday."
Solich also said that his team has been preparing for what is expected to be a raucous crowd at Beaver Stadium with simulated noise at practice.
"Their stadium can vibrate sound to where it even makes it a little bit louder but we've been practicing on that and we've been making sure that the real key in our mind is just how we handle everything," the coach said. "Obviously Penn State's a quality football program with a lot of talented athletes so that's a tremendous challenge for us."
Solich said he has confidence in his returning quarterback and veteran offensive line to handle the crowd noise and make the necessary in-game adjustments.
Ohio is no stranger to playing big-time opponents in their home stadiums. Since Solich began coaching at Ohio in 2005 his teams have played the likes of Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Illinois. Solich said it is merely a matter his players having confidence and trust in themselves and one another.
"Up to this point we've always stepped on the field with the ability that we can win, and that should never change," Solich said.