STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Third quarter, Penn State up a couple of touchdowns, the big screen showed images that brought many inside Beaver Stadium to their feet. A familiar face in younger days, glorious days. Words were mentioned over the PA: "Success without honor is an unseasoned dish. It will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good."

In the last row of the Temple section in the upper deck above the north end zone, a banner appeared, with a big T for Temple, so there was no mistaking the allegiance of the artist, who wrote, "He turned his back, so we'll turn ours."

An initial thought when Penn State announced it would honor the 50th anniversary of Joe Paterno's first game turned out to be a fantasy, hopelessly naive. Couldn't 50 years worth of players gather to celebrate real achievements and have those achievements, on and off the field, separated from the scandal that burned up this place?

Is Joe Paterno's name not allowed to ever be mentioned again?

Hopelessly naive.

If you're the type with a "409" decal under your Lions decal on the back of your Ford, you say that of course you honor the man since you believe there's not nearly enough  evidence Joe Paterno did anything wrong in the first place.

To the legions away from Happy Valley (and plenty around here) who will always believe Paterno didn't do enough, this day was about something else, a continuing refusal to come to grips with horrible events.

We'll repeat: The statue can't go back up. Too many questions that can never be answered. This isn't about innocent until proven guilty. This isn't about a court of law.

Penn State the institution is caught in the middle of this, with so many alumni pushing to honor Paterno. The school did its best to bring back all the football lettermen and honor Paterno's deeds and pay homage to the whole Grand Experiment without resurrecting the scandal.

But it's never that simple. Not just because a couple of protesters showed up with signs like, "You forgot already."

When Nittany Lions great Franco Harris says things such as, "There needs to be an apology," referring to how Paterno was treated by the school, you see this weekend wasn't just about honoring deeds.

When folks here say it's the outsiders who believe Joe did something wrong who should be forgotten, it becomes clearer.

This is the fire that will never go out.

The game that all this centered on was completely entertaining if not clinically precise. This was the first game of James Franklin's career he couldn't lose - you just can't lose to Temple two years in a row - and the Nittany Lions did enough to hold off the Owls, 34-27. They deserved to win the game. Assuming the rest of the season doesn't go over a cliff, Franklin deserves more time to see if he can bring Penn State back to glory days.

It wasn't pretty Saturday, not with so many Penn State defensive starters out, with running star Saquon Barkley joining them on the sidelines after his first touch. Barkley eventually returned and in the end he settled things with a fantastic 55-yard run that showed awareness of the entire field, including behind him.

The most entertaining play of all almost did Penn State in, a Temple rugby-style punt that caromed off a Penn State player and continued all the way to the 1-yard line, Owls recovering. The score brought Temple within 27-24 before Barkley took care of business.

Afterward, Franklin thanked all the lettermen who had come back and noted all the young players who stepped up and congratulated his team for finding a way to grind it out and noted they have to find a better way to be physical up-front defensively. He was happy his team had found a way to start faster. He was right about that being vital.

As for that statue that's missing outside, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it should go back up.

Just add Joe Paterno's own words, "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I'd done more."

mjensen@phillynews.com

@jensenoffcampus