Gameday Observations: Michigan

Saturday marked a near shutout for Penn State as the Nittany Lions ultimately fell (hard) at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines. I don’t think anyone wants to talk about what happened on the field this weekend, so let’s get right to what happened off the field in Ann Arbor.

  • As much as I hate to admit it, Michigan’s tailgate game is strong. Lots of facilities in one area equals lots of parking, from paved lots to golf courses (even though the golf course was closed this time around because of rain and mud — sounds familiar). Even businesses along a decent-sized road/highway opened their lots for a small fee, like if Penn Staters took up tailgating along a construction-free North Atherton Street. It seems crazy, but trust me, it works.
  • Michigan fans were surprisingly pleasant throughout the day, save for the token drunk asshole you can expect at nearly any college sporting event. Maybe they’re just Midwest nice. Maybe they took pity on us because they knew their team was going to kick some ass. Either way, one of the only highlights of our day was meeting a lifelong fan who was casually smoking a cigar on his way into the stadium and telling us how glad was Penn State joined the Big Ten (as if it just happened).
  • Beaver Stadium will always have my heart, but the Big House is incredible in its own right. Unfortunately, there are no chicken baskets at Michigan Stadium. However, the Wolverines make up for it with a gameday snacking staple of their own: popped maize. Yes, you read that right. And yes, it’s just popcorn.
  • Instead of shakers, Michigan’s fans got something resembling Pittsburgh’s famous Terrible Towel. As a Steelers fan, I was a little grossed out, but I digress. This had two surprisingly exciting elements: First, unlike at Pitt, stadium staff didn’t give them to Penn State fans entering the stadium (not even as a souvenir?!). Second, one made its way to the field and everyone thought it was a penalty flag — even the stadium announcer. What a time to be alive!
  • The Game of Thrones-themed halftime show was an impressive march in collaboration between the Blue Band and the Michigan Marching Band. (I think I’ve taken for granted the uniqueness of the Blue Band’s name until this point.) President Trump’s Game of Thrones-themed tweet was a strange twist on a well-meant theme, but at no fault of the bands. I’ll forever be in awe of how smooth the routine looked despite the limited time to actually rehearse together. Truly, this whole thing was more enjoyable than watching Penn State football get crushed during the actual game.
  • Michigan Stadium’s music man was an interesting fellow. For the first half of the game, we heard very little interlude between plays. I’ll give him credit, though: What we did hear was spot-on, a mix of mostly throwbacks with some college party classics like “Mr. Brightside.” It was odd to sometimes feel like it was quiet, even surrounded by 111,000 people. Then he got to trolling us, and we wished it was quiet. You win some, you lose some, I guess.
  • The “It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine” chant might seem catchy, but it’s a little over-played. It might be great to be an Auburn Tiger. It might also be great to be a Florida Gator. Which is the greatest? Much like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie pop, the world may never know.
  • At the end of the game, Penn State’s small but mighty student section sang the alma mater. In that moment, everything hurt a little less. Then reality set in.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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