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Paterno's 600th is Sat. vs. Gophers

Associated Press

His hair was jet black and the black horn-rim glasses weren't quite as thick. Those ever-present white socks still peeked out from the bottom of his pants cuff.

It has been 53 years and 599 games, but Penn State coach Joe Paterno still has vivid memories of his first game coaching the Nittany Lions.

"We went out there with about 12,000 people, and I was as nervous as could be," Paterno said. "My coaching experience was a lot different than a lot of people, and I never, ever was with the football team. I always was upstairs, and I was all by myself."

When Penn State takes the field Saturday against No. 24 Minnesota, it will be the 600th game Paterno has been coaching with the Nittany Lions.

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He started in 1950 as an assistant to head coach Rip Engle. In Paterno's first game, the Nittany Lions beat Georgetown 34-14, although the margin of victory has since narrowed for the 76-year-old coach.

"I made a lot of mistakes that day, but we ended up winning the game by, I think, a touchdown," Paterno said. "And I think I went in after the game and I said to Rip, 'I apologize.' I'm just a kid out of college. And I said, 'I blew a couple things, coach.' And he said, 'Ah, you did all right.'"

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