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Brandon Wade, Associated Press
Penn State assistant coach Jay Paterno speaks to reporters before an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, in Dallas. Penn State is scheduled to face Houston in the TicketCity Bowl on Jan. 2.

DALLAS — Penn State players besieged by scrutiny at the scandal-tainted school have received unprecedented signs of support from ex-Nittany Lions.

Many ex-players are expected to be on hand again Monday when No. 24 Penn State completes its tumultuous season by playing No. 20 Houston in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas.

While it's not uncommon for former players to travel to bowl games, the circumstances for this year's game for Penn State are far from typical.

Coach Joe Paterno was fired last month in the aftermath of child sex abuse charges against retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

A group of ex-players have reached out to current players since the initial week of the scandal. Left tackle Quinn Barham said it has helped players block out negativity and stay motivated on the field.