Captains Setting a Tone

Brackett and Ogbu lean on big-game experience to prep teammates for the hostile environment Penn State will find when traveling to face No. 1 Alabama.

Penn State players do not subscribe to the belief that their role as underdogs Saturday night at No. 1 ranked Alabama will affect the team's performance.

“We're used to being the underdogs,” said defensive tackle and team captain Ollie Ogbu. “We've played in Ohio State and Iowa. It's not an atmosphere we're uncomfortable with.”

Although the odds are stacked against them -- a road game in the SEC, playing with a freshman quarterback, facing the defending national champions -- Penn State's team captains are not fearful of what is in store for them at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

They want their teammates to know that, too.

“You only get so many opportunities like this,” said wide receiver and team captain Brett Brackett. “The (older guys) did a great job teaching us it's one game and that we have to ignore the hype and all the crowd noise and just stay calm and poised.

“That's something that we've been trying to teach (the young guys). We're the upperclassmen now.”

The captains' confidence and familiarity with the situation have led them to not emphasize the fact they're double-digit underdogs.

Ollie Ogbu

“Whenever you're the underdog, I don't think you have to say it after every practice,” said Ogbu. “We know what we're going up against. It doesn't take a genius to know were playing the best team in the nation.”

The last time Penn State played a team in the Top-10 on the road came on Oct. 25, 2008, when the Nittany Lions upset Ohio State, 13-6. In that game Brackett and Ogbu both mode their way into the box score, recording one reception for 18 yards and a tackle, respectively.

On that victorious night in Columbus, it was Ohio State's talented but inexperienced freshman quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, who cost the Buckeyes the game with a crucial fourth-quarter fumble.

It is that kind of rookie mistake that has led many pundits to feel Penn State's youthful roster has no chance Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.

Ogbu revels in their doubt.

“It's all about proving them wrong and going on the field and firing off on all cylinders,” said Ogbu. “Who doesn't want to prove somebody wrong when they say you're not good enough?”

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