NEWARK — It will be the biggest stadium and probably the best team that a Delaware football squad has ever faced.
Virtually no one will be giving the Blue Hens a chance to actually win when they meet No. 7 Penn State in 106,000-seat Beaver Stadium on Saturday at noon.
Delaware coach Ryan Carty said Monday all that means is his players will have to focus that much more on themselves and executing to the best of their abilities.
“The main focus is knowing who we are,” said Carty. “You’re going into an environment that’s obviously a tough one to play in against a team that’s obviously, on paper, more talented. You have to make sure you go out there and focus on yourselves, do the right things, do your job and play so hard.”
The Hens moved up three spots to No. 19 in Monday’s FCS Division I Stats poll after opening the season with a 37-13 win at Stony Brook on Sunday.
The Nittany Lions downed West Virginia, 38-15, in their opener on Saturday night.
This will be the first meeting between the two football programs. There’s no shortage of Penn State fans in the First State, of course.
There’s unlikely to be an official betting line for the matchup of an FBS and FCS program. Individuals have favored Penn State by over 30 points.
Despite being a mismatch, Carty still expects the game to be a good experience for Delaware as a program. The Hens are 16-18 against FBS programs since 1978 when Division I split into FBS and FCS but none of those victories were against a program of Penn State’s caliber.
“I think it’s really more about the guys we have in the locker room more than the people in the stands,” said Carty. “Any environment you go into, you like to do your best to relish in that environment and use it your advantage. That’s going to be hard on third downs when we get to the red zone by the student section.
“But other than that, try to enjoy it as much as you can and have fun with it. Any time you’re in a stadium with a ton of people in it, it obviously brings out the competitor in you who wanted to be in major-college football in the first place.
“Hopefully we can keep our emotions in check during those moments, try our best to calm our heart rates and hopefully the meditation we’ve done has helped us so we can really calm down and just focus on our execution and play our game.”
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.