The Penn State football season is underway, its first game nowhere near Happy Valley.
Players, coaches, and thousands of fans crossed the pond for the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland, and back here at home PSU fans got up early to root on their team in its first game with a new head coach.
Instead of soccer it was college football kicking off at Croke Park in Dublin.
The Penn State Nittany Lions traveled to Ireland to take on the University of Central Florida in the season opener for both teams.
Back in Scranton, it was an early wake-up call for fans who wanted to catch the game. Kick-off was 8:30 a.m. Saturday and former Penn State player Eric Shrive threw a party at his place, The Vault Tap and Kitchen.
“It’s a great experience for the players. They really get to go abroad and see another country. It’s great for the state of Pennsylvania and we’re happy to be a part of it,” Shrive said.
There was a lot of anticipation built up for this game, the first one of the season for the blue and white under new head coach James Franklin and the first thing remotely close to a bowl game for fans, since the four-year NCAA ban went into effect in 2012.
Even though the game wasn’t in Happy Valley, fans were still excited to watch the Nittany Lions play on Irish soil.
“We waited nine months for this. It’s been an exciting winter with all the recruiting success,” said Tim Schoen of Scranton. “It’s just great to finally come out here. I mean, the bar is packed at 8:30 in the morning. Not many places or teams have that kind of following, dedicated fans.”
And lots of fans were there to cheer on the team. A big crowd turned out for a pep rally in Dublin’s Temple Bar Friday.
For anyone who couldn’t make the trip, they still found a way to root for the team including at the Rush Inn in Kingston.
“I think it’s great for Penn State. I think it’s great for the Penn State community. Giving Penn State more exposure, just overall good for college football,” said David Fellerman of Larksville.