Freshman 101: How To Survive A Night Game
In just a few glorious days, RVs, cars, trucks, and everything in between will converge on State College and post up to start a long day of tailgating. For the first time all season, tailgates will go all day without the interruption of a football game, leading up to Penn State’s White Out of No. 2 Ohio State.
Tailgating for a night game draws many comparisons to daylong-ing and for good reason — it’s a ton of drinking for as many 10 hours straight, all with the wonder of being outside. There are, however, two major differences: 1. Instead of being able to pass out around 8 or 9, you have to be coherent and standing straight enough to not fall off a small bleacher with little room for error and 2. Cops are out in full force and itching to give underages.
If you’re planning on going to the game plastered and don’t care about remembering it, this post isn’t for you. That part’s easy — just keep drinking. Same goes for anyone who wants to be sober, just don’t drink.
But for the rest of you who want a nice intersection between drunk and being able to remember the game, stay tuned, here are some tips on how to make the most of your tailgating experience.
From my experience, there are two real ways to do this, but both start similarly. I suggest trying to make your way to the tailgating areas around noon, giving you enough time to nurse your post-Friday hangover, eat a hearty breakfast, and mosey on over to the far east side of campus.
Like most daylongs, especially ones you want to remember, this is a marathon. Starting off slowly with some mimosas or lighter mixed drinks is a great way to start getting drunk while pacing yourself. Starting with beer just gives you a false sense of not being drunk, leading to stronger mixed drinks to compensate and an eventual blackout, which is the opposite of the intended result.
Once you start feeling yourself and get a sense of how drunk you are, feel free to take on some heavier mixed drinks and start really getting on everyone else’s level. Tailgates will go on long enough that you can get fairly drunk in the early afternoon and still have the time to come down before kickoff.
One of the most important parts of all of this is making sure you’re consistently coherent. It’s fine to be pretty drunk, but if at any point you feel on the verge of puking or blacking out, take some time off. There’s nothing worse than planning to see one of the best traditions in college football and making it all day just to realize you don’t have the energy to last the night. Your drunk has to be the kind that gives you energy, not the kind that makes you want to lay down in the IM fields and fall asleep for the night.
Food is also a unique resource here that you should make sure to use to your advantage. There’s no better way to slow your drinking and maintain your drunk than chowing down on some food in between drinks. Your mouth, stomach, and liver will all thank you. Plus, you can pretend you’re sophisticated and just pairing your Natty Light with a burger because of the way beer and red meat go together or something.
Around 5 or 6 p.m. the two plans diverge a bit. The two options you’re left with are sobering up enough to be able to manage yourself through the game, or make one last push and let your drunkenness carry you. I personally prefer the first one, with the goal of sobering up around the end of the first quarter or mid second, but mostly because I enjoy the games in any state and like focusing on the football. If, however, you’re the type to leave early if you don’t have an explicit reason to stay, the latter option may be best, letting the drunk excitement be your reason to stay.
No matter which option you pick, eating a solid dinner before getting in the stadium is absolutely vital. You simply will not survive an 8:30 p.m. game without a good amount of food in your stomach. Chicken baskets are wonderful, but relying on one for the most crowded game of the year is risky, especially when you have tailgate food at your disposal.
For the more sober option, the key isn’t to stop completely, but to tone it down so you start to come down just a bit, albeit slowly. Instead of a strong mixed drink, make it a bit lighter, or just stick to beer. Definitely get a solid drink or two in before you head to Gate A, but make sure to slow your pace. The key is to keep drinking but get back to pregame drunk, not middle-of-the-party drunk. From there, your buzz will fade, and your sobriety will take you through the game.
The second option is a little more straightforward. Keep your normal pace and ensure you’re still pretty drunk but make sure you don’t sober up completely, as the last 15 minutes or so of the tailgate should be devoted to getting as drunk as you can without getting wobbly. Beaver Stadium security will kick you out — or at least try to — if you’re clearly too drunk, so that can’t be an option. Keep the energy high, because a low-energy drunk will leave you wanting to sleep halfway through the first quarter, but a high-energy, screaming-your-lungs-out drunk will put you in the perfect position to scream along to Seven Nation Army and Zombie Nation all night.
Whatever path you choose, your first Beaver Stadium night game (and a White Out, at that) will be one you remember forever.