Evan Royster ran for three touchdowns and Derrick Williams had an 89-yard kickoff return for another score as Paterno tied Bobby Bowden atop the career wins list for major college coaches in the 22nd-ranked Nittany Lions' 66-10 rout Saturday of Coastal Carolina.
JoePa, who opened his record 43rd season on the sideline, now has 373 career victories, just like Bowden, his good friend from Florida State. The Seminoles start their season next week.
"I haven't even thought about it, and I'm not going to," Paterno said about the milestone. "I can only say it so many times, it's not a big deal to me."
Instead, he was focused on the Nittany Lions' play on the field - and it was hard to get a good barometer against the overwhelmed Chanticleers, a Championship Subdivision team.
"I think so," Paterno said when asked if his team played to his expectations, "as much as you can expect in an opening game like this."
Coach David Bennett had joked earlier in the week that he hoped his team wouldn't be "obliterated" by halftime. The score at the half was 38-7.
"Welcome to Big Ten football," Bennett said. "Woo!"
At least there were a couple bright spots for the Chanticleers. Penn State's defensive line was too quick and strong, so Coastal Carolina countered with quick, short passes and a no-huddle offense.
Quarterback Zach MacDowell did a good job early stepping up in the pocket to escape pressure, and there were audible gasps in sold-out Beaver Stadium when he found Trent Usher open on a crossing pattern for a 33-yard touchdown pass to get the Chanticleers within 14-7 with 13:38 left in the second quarter.
That was big news for a giddy team playing its first game against a Bowl Subdivision school.
"I just turned and kept running," Usher said. "It was a great feeling, in front of 110,000 (fans). I'll never do that again.
Unfortunately for Usher, the Nittany Lions then started pouring on the points.
Williams returned the ensuing kickoff for an 89-yard touchdown to give Penn State a 21-7 lead. The senior captain skipped away from E.J. Brown's tackle at midfield before running untouched into the end zone, pointing his left index finger high into the air.
Penn State held the Chanticleers to a three-and-out on the next possession before quarterback Daryll Clark hit a wide-open Jordan Norwood backpedaling in the end zone for a five-yard TD pass and a 28-7 lead.
Clark, in his debut as Penn State's starting QB, was 11-of-14 passing for 146 yards and the TD in limited action.
"When you first start, you want everything to go right," Clark said. "I don't think I got touched today."
The offensive line dominated on the ground, too, paving the way for seven rushing TDs on the day. Royster finished with 64 yards on eight carries, while promising redshirt freshman Stephfon Green ran for 89 yards and two scores on 10 carries in his collegiate debut.
Penn State gained 594 yards on the afternoon, its highest total since getting 661 yards against Rutgers in 1995.
Coastal Carolina did manage to get 250 yards and 16 first downs on offense. MacDowell alternated at quarterback with starter William Richardson in the game and finished 5-of-9 passing for 67 yards and an interception. Usher had three catches for 50 yards.
It was the easy opening win that Nittany Lions fans expected in what could be Paterno's last year on the sideline. This is the final year of JoePa's contract, and he and school administrators have tabled talks about his future until after the season.
Both sides have also said that Paterno doesn't need something in writing to keep coaching.
Bennett treasured his time on the same field as Paterno, calling both JoePa and Bowden "American heroes." But the easygoing coach wished Coastal Carolina didn't become a footnote in the Paterno-Bowden wins chase.
"That's not part of good history," Bennett said. "You're the team that he beats to tie the record."