Gameday Observations: Penn State vs Michigan
This weekend’s game was, for lack of a better term, a bloodbath. The Nittany Lions were hapless, and the Wolverines too talented to be stopped. But the Ann Arbor experience was one that left an impression on the Onward State crew that traveled to the game. Here are some of our gameday observations from the Big House.
Ann Arbor is a nice place: We joke about Ann Arbor being a certain epithet that rhymes with “door,” but I must say I was impressed. The folks were friendly, the town was vibrant, and the pregame atmosphere was electric. It was a significant change of pace from State College, but it was a fun place.
The Big House was everything I thought it would be: There are plenty of Big House takes here, but I thought the stadium was simply fantastic. You could feel the history the second you walked through the gates. Our view of the one-sided affair was incredible, and the feeling of walking onto the turf for the first time and striking the Heisman pose on the “M” (and being tweeted at by Charles Woodson) are memories I won’t soon forget. Pro tip: when traveling to road football games, bring a football with you. You might just get to throw it on the field after the game.
Beaver Stadium is definitely bigger than the Big House: Don’t get me wrong, the Big House is a great stadium with some great people, but Beaver Stadium is definitely bigger. Walking onto the field was surprisingly underwhelming. Looking around at the stands it looked like Beaver Stadium without the upper deck additions. It was pretty evident that what makes the Big House so “big” is the fact that they only give a few inches per seat for your butt in the bleachers.
Ann Arbor loves football: Aside from the final score, Saturday’s atmosphere in Ann Arbor was awesome. Walking around Michigan Stadium before the game and taking in the beautiful architecture of the Big House and its surrounding gates was really neat. The funniest part of our trip was undoubtedly hearing a campus traffic cop give fans crossing a busy intersection near the stadium the long-winded history of Penn State-Michigan over the loudspeaker. You simply can’t make stuff like that up. The main highlight of the day, though, was getting the chance to go on the field following James Franklin’s press conference and toss the ball around for a few minutes long after the last fan had left. You can sign me up for a return trip to Ann Arbor any time.
Penn State needs a Jim Harbaugh: The fans of a Michigan seem to view him as a God, and it’s worth noting when the PA announced his name he received the loudest applause. This definitely is not the case when James Franklin is announced at Beaver Stadium. All-in-all, the The Big House is an awesome college football venue. I just hope the next time I see a game there it results in a Penn State win.
Michigan’s tailgating scene was nuts before the game: I haven’t seen anything like it outside of Happy Valley. The major difference I saw was the Ann Arbor tailgates were vacant after the game, while the many lots around Beaver Stadium are vibrant into the early hours of the morning.
Parts of the Big House were Pristine: The press box was absolutely amazing. Everything about the experience had a professional feel to it. The stadium was in a great location — somewhat in a more downtown area of Ann Arbor. There were other parts of the stadium, such as the seating, that were definitely older. This isn’t something that’s uncommon in a number of college football stadiums. Michigan’s stadium is probably a good example for Penn State of how to modernize Beaver Stadium without completely rebuilding it.