Gameday Observations: Penn State vs. Pitt
Penn State’s heartbreaking loss to Pitt was a difficult ending to witness, but the gameday experience left a lasting impact — one that certainly cements the return of this storied rivalry. Here’s what some of our staff members took away from the weekend.
- Though Saturday’s final score was tough to stomach for Nittany Lion fans, going to Shady Side the night before and playing the Penn State Fight Song at the Steel Cactus was a pretty awesome time. The single largest sporting event in Pittsburgh history (sorry, 69k still isn’t that impressive) proved an outstanding reintroduction to the Pennsylvania college football landscape. Overflowing contingencies from both fanbases seemed to have a great time at Heinz Field, and who ever said a little trash talk wouldn’t come with the territory? Despite the loss, this past weekend’s shootout has me confident next year in Beaver Stadium will be quite the spectacle.
- Pitt fans made a collective effort to go to bed early so they could all wake up early and tailgate.
- Tailgating in the city wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be…the lack of grills severely limited the food options, but you could tailgate, drink, and play cornhole, except it was just under the shadow of a bridge or by a busy intersection.
- Having the game away from campus was a struggle to say the least. I was staying with friends on campus and at 7:30 a.m. when we were heading over to the tailgate the only way to get to Heinz was by bus or Uber, and every bus was full and despite seeing a million Ubers, no cars were available. When we finally did nail one down, there was a 4.9 surge and the $40+ drive was as long as it would’ve taken to walk from Beaver Stadium from West dorms. As visitors it was even worse that we had to leave when the game was starting because we didn’t have tickets, which was fine but the trek back involved a lot of walking and a difficult bus system. If I had to do that every week, I would probably miss more games than I attended — it’s almost not worth the effort.
- Heinz Field was a spectacular venue in a picturesque location. Sure it was a 20 minute ride from our hotel — and a huge inconvenience for students in Oakland — but the ambiance felt walking near a clustered blend of Pirates and Panthers fans had a palpable buzz about it. The stadium itself was gorgeous, and its views spectacular surrounded by the Allegheny, Monogahela, and Ohio Rivers. The press box blew me away with its layout and view of the field, and that glorious spread put all others to shame. I mean, it had a vat of nacho cheese, It was buffet style, and I hadn’t eaten yet. I couldn’t have asked for more — unless you factor in the end result of the game.
- Pitt’s communications team was gracious in making us feel right at home. They checked on what we needed, engaged in conversation, and were phenomenal to work with. Rubbing elbows with notable Panther faces was also a fun perk: Legendary running back Tony Dorsett and former NFL tight end Dorin Dickerson were among those in attendance. Meeting Doug Whaley, current Buffalo Bills GM, was also a highlight given my lifelong Buffalo fandom. No, I didn’t ask him why Sammy Watkins doesn’t get the ball more.
- Pittsburgh the city is fantastic. From its nightlife to its unique beauty, I loved every second of my first visit to the city.
We’ll see you this weekend as the Nittany Lions take on Temple this Saturday.