It is officially White Out week for Penn State football. This Saturday, the second-ranked Nittany Lions will take on No. 19 Michigan under the lights at Beaver Stadium for the team’s annual White Out game.
This year’s White Out may have already generated as much hype as any White Out in the tradition’s short history. ESPN’s College GameDay will be set in Happy Valley this week for the first time since 2009, and Penn State is ranked No. 2 for the first time since 1999.
All of this hype will culminate in what should be an excellent game, but until Saturday, all Penn State can do is wait. While you wait, relive some of the most memorable moments in White Out history.
2007: Derrick Williams Punt Return Touchdown vs. Notre Dame
While the student section initially united in white during the 2004 season, the first full-stadium White Out took place in 2007.
As fans across the country marveled at the spectacle of Beaver Stadium that night, then-No. 14 Penn State cruised to a 31-10 victory over the unranked Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame opened the scoring with a pick-six, but that would be the only touchdown scored by the Fighting Irish all night. Freshman QB Jimmy Clausen could not get anything going for Notre Dame; his team finished the evening with just 144 yards of total offense.
At the end of a relatively quiet first quarter, Derrick Williams fielded a punt at his own 22-yard line, made five Fighting Irish defenders miss, and returned the kick all the way back for a Penn State touchdown.
This play shifted momentum in the game, and a 116-yard performance from tailback Austin Scott powered the Nittany Lions to their second win of the season.
The first full stadium White Out was extremely successful, and served to be a sign of things to come for Penn State’s newest annual tradition.
2008: Derrick Williams Kick Return Touchdown vs. No. 22 Illinois
Something about the White Out brought the best out of Derrick Williams on special teams.
One year after the Notre Dame game, Penn State opened its 2008 Big Ten slate with an emphatic White Out win over then-No. 22 Illinois.
Williams, who was already having the game of his life, burst free for a 94-yard kick return score to start the fourth quarter. The Fighting Illini had just kicked a field goal to narrow the Penn State lead down to one score, but Williams quickly gave his team a two-possession lead again.
The receiver, who was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2009, finished the evening with 202 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including a 21-yard touchdown catch at the end of the first half.
Evan Royster ran for 139 yards as the starting tailback, and Darryl Clark threw two touchdowns for Penn State, but their strong games were overshadowed by Williams’ incredible game.
2013: The Catch
Need I say more? Penn State receiver Allen Robinson’s signature catch set up a Christian Hackenberg rushing touchdown to force overtime, and Bill Belton’s two-yard score in quadruple-overtime sealed the upset over No. 18 Michigan.
The win was Bill O’Brien’s signature win during his two-season tenure as Penn State’s head coach, and it was a major sign of healing after the fallout of the Sandusky scandal.
Fortunately for Penn State fans, this would not be the last signature White Out moment in program history…
2016: Upset Over No. 2 Ohio State
The beginning of the 2016 season was a tumultuous time for Penn State football. Calls for James Franklin’s job and doubts of the team’s ability dominated discussion surrounding Penn State football, but all of this changed on October 22, 2016.
Sitting at 4-2, the undefeated and second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes came to Beaver Stadium in a game that changed the fortune of Penn State’s football program.
Despite entering the fourth quarter down by two touchdowns, James Franklin’s squad rallied with ten unanswered points to cut the Buckeye lead to four. After driving down the field, Tyler Durbin lined up for a 45-yard field goal with 4:39 left in the fourth quarter.
If good, the field goal would have given Ohio State a seemingly insurmountable lead, but Penn State’s special teams unit had other ideas.
Hopefully, Penn State will add to this list of signature moments on Saturday during the Michigan game. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. and College GameDay gets underway at 9 a.m.