Gameday Observations: Penn State vs Ohio State
Nothing beats a White Out in Happy Valley, but what occurred Saturday night was magical.
The Nittany Lions completed arguably one of the greatest upsets — let alone games — in Beaver Stadium, and our staff was there to witness it. Check out some of our gameday observations from Penn State’s miraculous victory against Ohio State.
Mary Frances Pillion
There’s something special about the White Out. I’ve been going to Penn State football games for as long as I can remember, and even before that – that’s what you get when your dad is a Penn State alum. That being said, I can’t remember ever going to a game that was as electric and memorable as this Ohio State upset. I was lucky enough to be able to help out down on the field before kickoff, and the feeling that I got walking out onto the field gave me chills. Little did I know, I would get that same feeling only magnified a hundredfold at the end of the game when I got to storm the field with thousands of my friends.
The atmosphere at a White Out is different from the atmosphere of any other game, but there was something special about this specific White Out that I’d never felt before. I think that everyone knew we were very much the underdogs for this game, but every single one of us had a glimmer of hope that we could really pull this thing off, and that translated into an electric stadium energy that I firmly believed helped in this victory.
Storming the field is something you see in movies, but rarely get to experience in real life, and let me tell you, the real life version of storming the field is AMAZING. The stadium was alive with victory and celebration, and my favorite part of this game was the fact that students, alumni, and strangers alike were all celebrating together. All different types of people stormed the field and celebrated together like one big happy family, and this is a feeling that I know I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.
Don’t leave early: It’s the end of the third quarter, and Ohio State’s winning 21-7 over Penn State. All the momentum I’d felt in the first half was slowly depleting. The cold and wet weather had soaked my limbs and I was no longer able to feel my toes or fingers. Being miserable, wet, and cold while standing there through the third quarter didn’t seem worth it. However, that doesn’t compare to the feeling of utter joy after watching Penn State win and the disappointment in leaving early. That feeling that I missed the opportunity to race onto the field with my fellow Penn Staters is going to be a tough one to get over, but at least we beat Ohio State.
The stadium was loud: Saturday night’s game was my first ever White Out, and it certainly did not disappoint. I arrived nearly two hours early and got to take part in the famous “S-Zone,” something that has always been a dream of mine. The atmosphere was absolutely electric. The fireworks were a great touch as the Nittany Lions took the field, and they were no normal Beaver Stadium fireworks. These fireworks never seemed to end, lighting up the field and leaving an ominous layer of smoke over the stands. I believe that the early-arriving crowd was crucial in creating intimidating environment as Ohio State stepped out onto the field into a sea of white. I felt such great pride as J.T. Barrett had to give instructions to each of his offensive lineman individually because of the noise. Marcus Allen’s block, which led to Grant Haley’s touchdown return, was definitely the loudest I’ve ever heard the stadium (and the loudest I’ve ever yelled). The White Out environment was simply special, and the “We Are” chants had a little bit extra on Saturday night.
When you storm Beaver Stadium, you have to take a keepsake: All I was thinking when I ran onto the field was finding some type of memento and making some type of lasting memory. I grabbed a wad of grass when I stormed the field because I remembered reading about fans doing that after their teams won the World Series before security was as much of a thing as it is now. I have the grass in a plastic bag with my ticket stub and the score and date written on it on my desk. It was so awesome seeing the players and fans together as one after the final whistle, hugging each other and celebrating. My favorite part of home games has always been when the team comes over to the south end zone to sing the alma mater with the students but Saturday was a little more special because after hugging Shane Simmons, we put our arms around each other and starting screaming for the glory.
Buckeye fans were awesome: Ohio State fans in attendance that I met were very classy and nice. I was tailgating next to some and they all said they loved the campus and the atmosphere. Surprisingly, they weren’t all that confident of an Ohio State victory and it was great to have a solid un-biased conversation about football with them. This is something rare among all football fans today, so it was a welcome change of pace. After the game, the fans I saw were all very civil and congratulated us, even though many students were asses to them during the game.
Penn State is a family: When we took to the field I’ve never seen so many people hugging, cheering and jumping around with people that were complete strangers. The emotions on the field was something I can’t put into words. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of random people I talked with, high-fived, hugged, took pictures for or just stood there in pure amazement with. Penn State has one of the greatest fan bases in the world, and that was evident on the field last night. No fights, no destruction, just happiness. The scene on the field made me so proud to be a Penn Stater.
Blake Gillikin saved the day: The most underrated moment of this game that’s not being talked about is Blake Gillikin’s hustle play recovering the botched punt in the end zone resulting in a safety instead of allowing Ohio State to recover it for a touchdown. That play kept it as a two-possession ballgame, which led to Penn State’s ability to take the lead when it came time for the blocked field goal that will forever be remember by the Nittany Lion faithful. That block viewed from the student section was absolutely incredible. Everyone was jumping and screaming so much that it seemed as though half the student section — myself included — fell off the bleachers during the return. Then rushing the field was just the cherry on top to a memorable night in Happy Valley.
Saturday was pure magic: Alumni of older and younger generations that made it down to the field with the students were saying things like “You’re so lucky. Penn State football is back while you’re a student,” and “This is the way it should be,” with a gleam in their eyes that I’ve never seen. It brought fans and students of all backgrounds and ages into one big family like I’ve never seen. “We Are” has never been exemplified any stronger, and the scenes in Beaver Stadium and around the campus were truly beautiful.