STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Chaz Powell set the tone by returning the game's opening kickoff 95 yards for a score and Silas Redd led an overwhelming Penn State ground game with two rushing touchdowns in a 41-7 win Saturday over Indiana State.
Joe Paterno coached from the press box more than three weeks after suffering shoulder and pelvis injuries from an accidental collision in practice, though the Nittany Lions didn't miss a beat against the Sycamores -- an FCS team.
Redd ran for 94 of his 104 yards by the second quarter, including a 4-yard score for a 28-0 lead. Rob Bolden started at quarterback, splitting time with Matt McGloin.
Indiana State managed 170 yards of total offense and got pushed around by a Penn State team anxious to rebound from last year's 7-6 campaign.
Michael Zordich displayed the Nittany Lions' early physical superiority on back-to-back plays in the first quarter, throwing a devastating block up the middle to spring Redd loose for the tailback's first score, from 9 yards.
On the ensuing kickoff, Zordich leveled Sycamore return man Leonard Riston near the sideline for a violent end to a 21-yard return.
Paterno, who made "toughness" the keyword for preseason camp, surely relished what he witnessed from the press box. He had pronounced himself "50-50" this week to coach from the sideline.
The Nittany Lions got a nice warmup for next week's considerably tougher game -- a visit from No. 2 Alabama.
Both Bolden and McGloin got equal shots in what may well have been an extended audition for the starting gig against the Crimson Tide. Bolden, who started his second straight season-opener, finished 6 of 12 for 37 yards. He could have thrown for more had a couple of nice throws downfield not bounced off the hands of receivers Derek Moye and Justin Brown, respectively.
McGloin was 6 of 8 for 77 yards, with the offense looking crisper at times under his watch, especially in the 14-point second quarter.
Indiana State quarterback Ronnie Fouch, a Washington transfer, spent much of the afternoon on the run. Sacked on his first play by Gerald Hodges and intercepted on his second series by Drew Astorino, Fouch finished 11 of 23 passing for 102 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown.
On a warm, muggy day with temperatures in the low 80s, the Happy Valley party got started 13 seconds in after Powell sidestepped his way around defenders before sprinting down the field for his 95-yard return on the opening kickoff.
After a three-and-out for Indiana State, Redd capped up the next drive with his 9-yard score, aided by Zordich's big block. Redd finished with 12 carries, spending much of the second half on the sideline with the game well in hand.
Penn State ran for 245 yards on the afternoon.
It wasn't the kind of start Indiana State coach Trent Miles was looking for, though it was hardly unexpected against the more talented Nittany Lions. The Sycamores are coming off a 6-5 season in 2010, which ended a staggering streak of 60 losses in 62 games.
No David and Goliath-type upset on Saturday.
At least Indiana State does get to return home with an estimated $450,000-$475,000, according to Miles, which will help pay bills for the entire athletic department.
It wasn't entirely all smiles for Penn State. The offensive line struggled in pass protection, with Bolden and McGloin taking more hits than expected against a defense from a lower-division school.
That doesn't bode well next week when the speedy Crimson Tide roll into town.
The kicking game will need work, too. Evan Lewis, missed field goals from 38 and 47, along with an extra-point attempt in the third quarter. The presumed starting kicker, Anthony Fera, is on the bench because of off-field issues.