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Gameday Observations: Penn State vs. Michigan State

Saturday’s result was tough to watch, and even tougher to comprehend. Despite the on-field drama that played out, East Lansing is a remarkable town with a unique college town vibe. There was plenty to take in on Saturday — here’s what we noticed during the longest Penn State football game in recent memory.

  • The crowd scene at Spartan Stadium was interesting to say the least. It wasn’t near capacity by the time the game kicked off (likely because of the weather), but the three hour rain delay really deterred scores of fans from returning to the game. To be honest, it’s a bit of a shame, because while Penn State played imperfect football, the Spartans played a hell of a contest, and those who returned to the stadium were rewarded for sticking it out in the rain and cold.
  • East Lansing is a fantastic town with a diverse bar scene. Our local spot of choice was Hopcat, but the scene of the entire town after yet another victory against a top-10 opponent was wild. Lines wrapped around the block for popular bars, and the whole student population was seemingly located within a few blocks. For someone who’s never travelled to the town before, I left impressed and wanting to return in the future.
  • MICHIGAN STATE HAD A VERY GOOD DOGGO CATCHING A FRISBEE AT HALFTIME ON THE FIELD. The doggo’s name is Zeke, and he’s a very good boy. He was actually Zeke IV, born from a tradition that’s been happening at Michigan State since the 1970s. There’s a reason they call him the best receiver in the Big Ten!
  • Despite the fact that they wanted their team to completely annihilate the Nittany Lions, almost all of the Michigan State fans I met were incredibly friendly and welcoming. A lot asked how far we drove to get to East Lansing and commended our dedication and some even apologized for the rain delay as if it was their fault. When we got stuck in a classroom in Wells Hall with over a dozen Spartans, not a single student or fan batted an eyelash when we walked in. They all just greeted us and told us they hoped we were having a good time. And then we all watched some other good college football games together projected on the big screen. Refreshing!
  • The student section was missing a good chuck of students likely due to the rain, but what stuck out to me more were the bright red and orange jackets some people were wearing. It didn’t look like event staff because there were some right in the middle of the stands. I understand that not everyone’s just gonna buy a rain coat in their school colors when they already have a perfectly good one, but if you wore bright red in the student section at Beaver Stadium, I can’t help but think you’d be crucified.
  • It never ceases to amaze me how dedicated college football fans are to their teams. When they announced that everyone needed to evacuate the stadium, a large majority of fans just stood where they were. Everyone there just wanted to watch some good football (unfortunately for Penn State fans, that didn’t happen) and everyone was willing to put themselves at a slight risk to do so.

  • Spartan Stadium’s original security reminded me a lot of Penn State’s, except without the metal detectors. However, after the rain delay, security was quite literally nonexistent — as in, they didn’t even check to see if we had tickets. I guess you can be sure you’re a crazy fan when you’re one of the few to return after a delay. So many people went home that they actually closed at least some sections of the upper bowl and told everyone to sit wherever they wanted. This led to an impressive seat upgrade, which was fun.
  • I’m always disappointed when away stadiums don’t offer anything akin to our beloved Beaver Stadium chicken baskets, but I was pleasantly surprised to enter the stadium and see a cheesesteak stand (though not Philly) complete with loaded nachos. “We’ll come back and get these later in the game!” we said. The stand was closed when we returned after the rain delay. Not. Great.
  • Let me end with a quick piece of advice here: If it’s pouring down rain with no quick end in sight, go straight to the bar. While Michigan State’s two shelter buildings were fine, we were glaringly deprived of snacks and drinks, including but certainly not limited to alcohol. If you go straight there, you’ll only have to brave one stint in the rain instead of two separate treks.

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Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.

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