The True Value Of Home Field Advantage
Penn State will play its final home game of the season Saturday when Nebraska visits for Senior Day. The Nittany Lions are seeking their second straight season with an undefeated record at Beaver Stadium. In honor of yet another impressive season at home, we took a look at the true value of playing in the friendly confines of Happy Valley.
Penn State has won its last 13 games at Beaver Stadium and 19 of its last 20, with the only loss being to Michigan November of 2015. In comparison, the Nittany Lions have struggled on the road the last two seasons, going 5-4 as a visitor (5-5 if you count the de facto road game in the Rose Bowl against USC).
Fans have embraced the program’s Renaissance, surpassing 100,000 attendance totals in every game this season and in nine of the last ten (the only sub-100,000 in that span being the regular season finale against Michigan State last fall when students were still on Thanksgiving Break). For this year’s White Out against Michigan, the last team not named Penn State to win in Beaver Stadium, fans broke a 35-year old record with the largest stadium in program history: 110,823.
The closest thing to a modern dynasty, Penn State women’s volleyball has dismantled competition and dominated at Rec Hall for what seems like forever now. Over the last 20 seasons, the Nittany Lions are 330-19 (!) at home. They average less than one loss at home per season, which makes sense considering they have eight undefeated seasons in that span and at one point, rode a 90-game home winning streak from 2006-10.
The women’s volleyball team might be meeting its match with Cael Sanderson’s annually masterful team, its co-tenants who have won six of the last seven NCAA Titles. Since Sanderson took over in 2009, Penn State is 53-4 at home. The program has won 17 consecutive home duals since 2015 and has sold out Rec Hall 37 straight times. With highly anticipated conference duals against Ohio State and Iowa schedule for this winter, that streak won’t be dying anytime soon.
Another staple in the annual national title conversation, Erica Dambach’s squad is also quite hard to beat at home, winning 72 of its last 86 home games, dating back to 2011, good enough for an .838 winning percentage. Over the last seven seasons, the team has actually tied more games at home than it has lost (eight ties vs. six losses)
In spite of how disappointing Penn State basketball has been over the course of the 21st-century, save for a few dream seasons, the team has excelled at home. Of the Nittany Lions’ 258 wins since 2000, 182 have been at home, or 71%, nearly three-quarters.