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PSU once again starts Big Ten play on road, and O'Brien wants longtime schedule quirk to 'even out'

September 26, 2012
By Cory Giger ( , The Altoona Mirror

A capsule look at Bill O'Brien's weekly news conference.

Opponent: Illinois (2-2)

Last time vs. Penn State: The Lions won at home last year, 10-7.

Kickoff: Saturday, noon

Television: ESPN

Line: Illinois is favored by 2; over/under is 41 1/2

On the road again: O'Brien is in his first year at PSU, and he's already disappointed in an unusual scheduling quirk when it comes to Big Ten openers. This is the third straight year and seventh time in nine seasons the Lions will start league play on the road. It's also the 12th time in 20 years. "I would like for someday that to even out and maybe get a home game here at Beaver Stadium to open the Big Ten season," O'Brien said. Ohio State has had 14 home openers in the 20-year span. When contacted about the quirk two years ago, a Big Ten official told the Mirror, "It's pure folly to think" the league plays favorites with that scheduling aspect.

Confidence in Big Ten: The conference has been heavily criticized after four lackluster weeks, but O'Brien cautioned people doubting the league. "My opinion is just don't bet against the Big Ten teams and this conference and these coaches and these players," he said. O'Brien acknowledged he hasn't been able to watch many other Big Ten teams play but still called it "an excellent conference." He added: "College football as it relates to conferences is somewhat cyclical. One year the SEC may have a great year and then the next year maybe it's the Big Ten or the Big 12 or maybe it's the ACC. It's cyclical as far as how many conferences win Bowl games and things like that."

Crediting the QB coach: O'Brien gets a lot of credit for Matt McGloin's development, but he pointed out how quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher has done great work. "What stands out to me about Charlie is how he talks to the quarterbacks about mechanics and reads and how to think about plays," O'Brien said. "I think he's played a big role with all the quarterbacks. He's been around a lot of good quarterbacks and a lot of good receivers, and he's brought that to Penn State."

Always trying to improve: The Lions have had some issues with timeouts so far, and O'Brien knows that one of his main responsibilities as a new head coach is game management. "As an assistant coach you don't call the timeout in the game," he said. "You don't think about the clock as much as you do as a head football coach. ... So it's a big difference. Just like everybody else in our football program, I'm trying to improve every week and trying to get better."

-- Compiled by Cory Giger

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