Why You Should Stay For The Michigan Game
I’ll admit it: I take Penn State football too seriously. I live for the wins, and die with the losses. It’s been this way since 2005 when I was 11 years old, because that was the first time I tasted success as a Penn State fan. During that magical season, ESPN’s College Gameday visited State College for Penn State’s matchup with a highly ranked Ohio State squad. The Nittany Lions would eventually defeat the Buckeyes 17-10 in what was dubbed as the game that cemented Penn State’s return to relevancy on a national scale.
That 2005 Ohio State game went down in history as Penn State’s first White Out, giving the nation a taste of just how raucous Penn State’s student section could be. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit was on the sidelines for the game, and the student section’s presence left a lasting impact on the Ohio State grad. “That’s the best student section in the country, they’re crazy,” Herbstreit famously uttered after the game.
Since witnessing that spectacle, I wanted to be a part of the student section, and became determined to make as much of an impact on the program as I could. In the words of Michael Mauti, I wanted to “show up every Saturday and raise hell,” even if I’m just a minuscule cog in the grand scheme of things.
With four years gone, this Saturday will be my final game in Beaver Stadium as a student. This is where you — my fellow students — come in. As all of you know, Thanksgiving break commences after your final classes on Friday. After 13 weeks of classes, the large majority of the student body is ready to head home for a much needed break. But before you make your trek back home, please, stay for the Michigan game. Believe me, I understand the anxiousness to go home, but the reasons to stay truly outweighs the extra 24 hours at home.
More important than anything, this game is for the senior class. Players like Anthony Zettel, Jordan Lucas, Trevor Williams, Angelo Mangiro, and Carl Nassib stayed with the program through its toughest times. This group more than any other class was affected by the sanctions. They all faced the dilemma of staying at Penn State but never being eligible (or so we thought) for any type of postseason play, or to move on to perceived greener pastures for a chance to compete for championships. As you already know, they all decided to stay Nittany Lions. For that, they deserved to be commended in front of a packed Beaver Stadium when they take the field for the final time.
Let’s also keep in mind Penn State still has a lot to play for. Technically speaking, the Nittany Lions can still win the Big Ten if a lot of funky stuff happens, but even despite that crazy scenario, the Michigan game could be the signature win James Franklin has lacked during his tenure thusfar in Happy Valley. Victories over UCF in Ireland and Boston College in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl were satisfying, but neither garnered the national respect that a win over a Jim Harbaugh-led No. 14 Michigan team would.
Lastly, I’d just like to offer this advice: You only have four (okay, maybe five) years at Penn State. Make the most of that time. I’m not saying this is the case for everybody, but will that extra day of break really matter to you five or ten years from now? This is the White Out game, easily the biggest game of the season. Stay the extra day, have a good time with your friends, and get rowdy in the student section for one final time this season. The atmosphere of a football Saturday in Happy Valley is truly one of a kind — don’t take the experience for granted.