Game Day Observations: Syracuse
We’re back! For the third season in a row, Onward State will bring you into the stands for every Penn State football game — home and away — during the 2013 season. We’ll report on what you can’t find in the game recaps or box scores with a fan’s perspective from the Beaver Stadium student section to the Horseshoe in Columbus or all the way to Memorial Stadium in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. Here are a few examples of what you can expect.
Let’s get started with Penn State’s pseudo-away game against Syracuse on Saturday in the Meadowlands:
- It was, as I said, a pseudo-away game for the Nittany Lions. Although Syracuse is only about four hours from East Rutherford (just about 10 miles farther than State College), Penn State fans made up at least 75 percent of the 61,202 in attendance, if not more. The tailgating lots were even more disproportional in Penn State’s favor. It truly felt like another home game for Penn State.
- Penn State Athletics was brilliant to markdown the student tickets to $25. I stopped in the ticket office Tuesday morning and I was the 850th student to purchase a ticket. Considering the retail price for general admission was $75, it was a great deal and enticed many students that would not have normally made the trip. The tickets were lower level too, which is more than I can say for most away game student tickets.
- Once you had enough alcohol in your system to forget the $30 parking fee, the tailgating experience was great. Everyone knows a Penn State tailgate is not complete without a cardboard Joe Paterno watching over the festivities, and this setup took it to the #NextLevel by including not one but TWO Cardboard Joes. Kudos to these folks.
- Speaking of Joe, there were signs of him everywhere.
- Did I mention the tailgating was awesome? The Nittany Lion — or at least someone with a damn good costume — was hanging out with students in the parking lot and did some one-armed pushups to warm up for the game.
- The student section was loud and rowdy as usual. The funniest moment was after Penn State’s first touchdown during the — for lack of a better phrase — girl toss. MetLife Stadium security freaked out as Penn State threw its women into the air for each point. They couldn’t stop the dozens of mini mosh pits that popped up throughout the section and frantically threatened to kick anyone out who dared lift a Penn State female off her feet. They were no match, however, and gave up after Penn State’s second score.
- MetLife Stadium itself left much to be desired. It had your basics — $6 hotdogs, a big enough concourse, and individual seats — but the place lacked any sort of character. I suppose character is hard to come by when you play host to two different professional football teams at the same time. I definitely prefer college towns/stadiums for away game venues, and MetLife just didn’t have any distinctive features that left any sort of impression on me.
- The crowd was definitely on Team Hack. When O’Brien put Tyler Ferguson in at QB for one drive, undertones of “Shit, not this again” could be heard everywhere. The whole Rob Bolden/Matt McGloin platoon failure is all too fresh in Penn State fans’ minds.
- The Blue Band should go to all the away games. There must be some rich alum who can finance that, right?
- Speaking of the Blue Band, it was too bad they didn’t get to play a pregame show and were only given an abbreviated halftime spot. There was only enough time to play one verse of the Alma Mater, which is always quite awkward. They were great as usual, though.
- New drum major Chris Siergiej landed his first career flip like a boss.
That’s it for this week! We’ll be back next Monday for the Eastern Michigan observations.
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Sandy Barbour will make an average of $1,269,000 per year as part of the new deal, which runs through August 2023.
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