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Your Guide To Surviving College GameDay On Old Main Lawn

No surprise here: College GameDay is coming back to Happy Valley. If you’re ahead of the game, you’ve already started crafting your White Out puns and working on your best “HELL YEAH, IT’S GAMEDAY!” face.

For the College GameDay pit veterans out there, take the time to brush up on some general guidelines for the day: when to arrive, what not to put on your signs, and other ESPN rules.

Still, there are a lot of things to know about surviving a College GameDay appearance, a full day of tailgating, and a night game at Beaver Stadium that you can’t just look up online (until now). Here are some tips to making the most of out of College GameDay’s visit and, more importantly, making it out alive:

“Should I Go Out the Night Before?”

I’m not going to be the one to tell you “no,” but there’s really nothing worse than standing outside in changing temperatures for eight hours when you’re hungover. Dozens of college football fans have learned that the hard way. Remember, the pre-game action doesn’t start right away, but when it does, you’re expected to be high-energy for the cameras (especially if you’re in the pit).

If you decide to go out instead of catching some preemptive Zs, try to take it easy and be sure to load up on water between drinks. If you decide to ignore this section of the post and go way too hard, don’t be too cranky when someone wakes up your drunken slumber and tells you it’s time to go to the set. You might want to take the water you should’ve drank last night on the road with you.

Setting Yourself Up for Post-Game Success

If you go out on Friday night, go to College GameDay on three hours of sleep, head straight for the tailgating lots, and then go to the game and a potential post-win celebration, you’re going to be running on absolute E.

Set yourself up for success the day before so you know you’ll have everything you need when you finally make it back home: a bottle of water, some easy-to-reheat leftovers or crackers by the bed, makeup wipes, and a fresh t-shirt to sleep in. Whatever you need to make the breakdown easier for you, set it up in advance.

Fortifying Yourself and Your Sign For the Weather

You can check the weather all you want, but you never know what Mother Nature will bring to State College in the fall. When dressing, layers is always the best option — 4 a.m. on Old Main lawn is going to feel very different than 11 a.m. on Old Main lawn. Don’t be fooled by the students from other schools in t-shirts at College GameDay. You know better.

You’ll want your sign to stand the test of time, so secure it to a deconstructed cardboard box or tri-fold board. It can get pretty windy in the wee hours on campus and your sign will either rip or pull you around with it if it gets caught in a gust. If you worked really hard on it, pack a roll of tape for you and your friends.

Where to Stand if You Don’t Make It in the Pit

Not everyone with a top-notch joke on their sign is going to make it into the pit and on TV (it’s not that great since you’re facing the analysts’ backs, anyway). Still, there are some pretty great places to enjoy GameDay from the lawn.

If you can make it to the front few rows flanking the stage, you’ll get to hang out with the DJ, watch the show and see some aerial shots on the giant TVs, and maybe pick on the opposing team’s cheerleaders, too. Those who arrive really late will be scattered toward the building, but you can sit on the steps or the walls beside them and get a great view of a sea of Penn Staters.

Hot tip: One lucky fan can claim a small, concrete pedestal in between the flags and Old Main for sitting, standing, and flag-waving. If this is you, never give it up. 


At the end of the (very long, very exhausting) day, experiencing College GameDay on Old Main lawn is a great thing to check off your Penn State bucket list. Whether you drank a little too much the night before or hibernated in preparation, it’ll hopefully be a morning you’ll never forget.

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About the Author

Gabriela Stevenson

Gabriela is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism and Onward State's former student life editor. She is from Norristown, PA, which she normally refers to as "30 minutes outside of Philadelphia" (she looked up the exact driving time). She enjoys really enjoys eating cereal at night, in case you were wondering. To contact Gabriela, e-mail her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @GabiStevenson if you want to feel young again.

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