Gameday Observations: Michigan 2019 White Out
I’ve now been to four White Outs, and the electricity running through Happy Valley in the days leading up to the game and inside Beaver Stadium just before and during it, still gets me every single time. I found myself looking around the stadium in awe multiple times during the game, taking in the endless sea of white and listening to the echo of every cheer.
Every college fan should experience a White Out, and as Penn State students, it’s a privilege to be treated to one every year. To this day, the magic is unlike anything else I’ve ever witnessed, and plenty of things throughout the gameday experience always make it a memorable evening. Here’s what made it special this year.
Micah Parsons Got A Saquon-Esque Cheer During Introductions
I always like to pay attention to the different levels of cheering each player draws when the starting lineups are announced. During Saquon Barkley’s junior season, he was always greeted with a roar of excitement. Sure, folks loved seeing Trace McSorley and Mike Gesicki light up the scoreboard with their charming smiles and greetings, but it was just different for Barkley.
I think Parsons is on his way to reaching that level of reception. The crowd was loud for every player featured in the video, and Sean Clifford and KJ Hamler both received deafening applause, but Parsons shouting out Harrisburg sent the stadium into an even greater frenzy than it had already been in. The only player I’ve heard receive a louder cheer is Barkley, and Parsons still has at least one more full season to reach that level.
This, of course, is all subjective and could be total bullshit. My Apple Watch doesn’t have the update that lets you track noise.
Lighting Up Beaver Stadium Like The Fourth Of July
Just like Kirk Herbstreit said, the game operations team at Penn State never disappoints during a White Out. Every year, I am blown away by the sequence of pyrotechnics as the team runs onto the field, and every year, I think to myself about how this might be the most fireworks they’ve ever had.
The only word to describe the fireworks as the team ran out of the tunnel Saturday was a deluge. They just never stopped while lighting up the entire sky. The alternating blue and white bursts were a cool addition and very ~State~.
“Mo Bamba”: Stadium Song Of The Century
Beaver Stadium Music Man PJ Mullen said he wanted to bring the juice this weekend, and he certainly did with that the in-game playlist. Nearly a full year since Mullen sparked what’s now remembered as the Mo Bamba Game and Michigan Stadium’s own DJ then trolled the Nittany Lions with the song the following week, Mullen kicked things off with Sheck Wes’ immortal frat classic.
The song blared through the singers as Jonathan Sutherland waved his dreadlocks and motioned to the crowd to get loud on the scoreboard. The effect was, what Urban Meyer would call, the stadium “coming completely unglued.”
It was nuts and among my top-five Beaver Stadium moments — up there with Saquon Barkley’s walk-off touchdown against Minnesota in 2016, the Marcus Allen-Grant Haley blocked field goal-touchdown, the field-storming as a result of said blocked field-goal touchdown, and Barkley’s 69-yard touchdown to open the 2017 White Out.
It also seemed to have an effect on Michigan’s offense. The Wolverines were forced to burn a timeout before even running a play, due to this “Avalanche of Sound,” courtesy of one PJ Mullen.
Just how crazy was it, you ask? I DMed him this as soon as Jim Harbaugh called the timeout:
Nittany Lions In The NFL Shoutouts
A cool component in the gameday production was a series of videos of former Penn State players appearing on the scoreboard to wish the team luck and talk about how special the White Out is. Among them were Trace McSorley, Mike Gesicki, Michael Mauti, Allen Robinson, Grant Haley, and Saquon Barkley.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to run through a wall after hearing Grant Haley and Allen Robinson tell you how special the White Out is?
Aside from being a nice touch for fans to remember the heroes of years past, the best thing to come out of these cameos was Mauti starting his video by saying, “THIS IS MICHAEL MAUTI COMING TO YOU FROM THE SWAMPS!” You can expect to find me tweeting that at least twice a month from here on out.
Joe Jonas, who might as well also be a Penn State football player given how much James Franklin and everyone here loves him, also had a video message for the team and fans, as the game ops team truly pulled out all the stops out this weekend.
Lionettes Dancing To “Shipping Up To Boston” Remix
The Lionettes can make any TV timeout an enjoyable two minutes, and Saturday was no different. They had another awe-inspiring performance and kick line, and I’d like to request that the Phyrst take the “Shipping Up To Boston” remix they were dancing to and immediately put it on its State Patty’s playlist.
Student Section Was Comfortable, Convenient
I’m as big of a critic of student ticketing at Penn State as anyone. Last year’s White Out was uncomfortable, because of how many people were packed into the student section. My group of eight ended up being split up into four groups of two, and we needed to stand turned to the side because there just wasn’t enough room.
I have to say, to Athletics’ credit, Saturday was a much better experience — whether because of the new changes or stricter policing of who got into the section. We had plenty of room, and it wasn’t even a problem to get through the gate and into our seats.
After a shaky start to the season where the new mobile ticketing policy made everything take forever, there have been major improvements to the entry procedures, and the Athletics staff and ushers deserve plenty of credit.
White Out Waves: The Eighth Wonder Of The World
I really don’t like the wave, and that’s something I’ve never been shy about sharing. But as I’ve said time and time again, it looks awesome during a White Out and Stripe Out. Those are the only times I support the act.
The ripple through the sea of white truly looks like a rushing current, and I could legitimately stare at it all day as fans alternated between fast and slow.
“Fuck You, Harbaugh” Cheers
At one point after
Penn State’s big goal-line stand Ronnie Bell dropped the game-tying touchdown, fans in the student section broke out into “Fuck you, Harbaugh” cheers. I by no means want to take the moral high ground or talk about how Penn State fans are better than this, but these were classless and seemed to cross a line. I only heard this cheer break out once, but it was definitely something that stood out to me while looking back at the game.
Jonathan Sutherland: First-Team All-American Hype Man And Fan Favorite
When he appeared on the scoreboard during the Stripe Out, Jonathan Sutherland seemed like a natural talking to the crowd in the pre-recorded bit. In his first game at Beaver Stadium since the break of the racist letter he received from an alum earlier this month, Sutherland was featured over and over again on the big screen, waving his dreadlocks and motioning the crowd to get loud.
The fans loved it, and it proved effective, particularly on that opening play.
“KJ, KJ, KJ”
After KJ Hamler got rocked on the game-winning third-down conversion, he was very slow to get up. When Hamler finally was able to walk off the field, he was sent off with an overwhelming cheer of his name that rang out throughout the stadium. The cheers picked up a few more times during that last minute and after the game when he and Sean Clifford made their way over to the student section for the Alma Mater.
It was very emotional to watch that outpouring of support for Hamler, who’s become such an iconic part of this program in every way during his first two seasons.
Every White Out, I vividly remember something different about the game. In 2016, it was hugging Shane Simmons on the field and singing the Alma Mater arm-in-arm with him. In 2017, it was the “We Want Bama” chants and how confident every single person in the stadium seemed that that was the year. Last year, it was singing the Alma Mater after a loss for the first time ever and being moved by the solemn, yet undeterred unity.
And this year, although the “Mo Bamba” timeout jumps out as an all-time great moment, the sound of the cheers in support of Hamler was incredible and something I feel like I won’t soon forget. In a month that’s been shrouded with divisiveness among fans and toward players, it was a nice reminder that truly, “We Are” one Penn State.
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