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Gameday Observations: Wisconsin

Well, that was awesome.

If you somehow didn’t know, Penn State football traveled to Wisconsin Saturday to open its season against the Badgers. In a quintessential Big Ten showdown, the Nittany Lions pulled off the upset and left Camp Randall Stadium with a 1-0 record.

An Onward State crew consisting of Gabe Angieri, Sam Brungo, Will Pegler, and myself were there in Madison and it was certainly an eventful weekend. Thanks to the pandemic, this was the first “normal” Penn State game in a long, long time. It’s safe to say we all missed college football.

While the Nittany Lions weren’t in Beaver Stadium for their valiant return to “normality,” it was great to see college football back in the Big Ten. Here are some of the most interesting and amusing things we noticed on gameday in Madison.

College Football Rules

Listen: It’s fun and all to act like college football traditions that don’t take place in Happy Valley aren’t impressive, but “Jump Around” was pretty sweet. The press box was quite literally shaking and making concerning noises.

Traditions like this, Wisconsin’s band, a loud rendition of “Build Me Up Buttercup,” and the Badgers’ version of the Stripe Out made for a fun atmosphere Saturday. Penn State fans traveled well, too. Solid cheers echoed throughout the stadium when Jaquan Brisker all-but-sealed the deal with his late-fourth-quarter interception.

Sean Clifford’s New Chain

QB1 has some new ice, folks. Sean Clifford debuted his new Clifford the Big Red Dog chain during his postgame press conference.

The quarterback used his newly minted NIL privileges to announce he got his chain done by Shop Gold, according to The Athletic‘s Audrey Snyder. We haven’t seen this much drip from a Penn State quarterback since Ice God Jake Zembiec was still around.

Madison Isn’t Actually ‘America’s Best College Town,’ But It Turns Out It’s The Capital Of Wisconsin

Wisconsin displayed plenty of signs in and around Camp Randall Stadium claiming that Madison was “America’s Best College Town.” I’m sorry, but the tailgating scene right next to the stadium wouldn’t look like this if that statement was true.

In all seriousness, Madison didn’t really scream “college town” to me. Some of the main downtown streets near campus certainly felt college-y, but the city sprawled out quite far and many areas felt a bit odd. Also, I was shocked to learn Madison is the capital of Wisconsin. The large capitol building was a dead giveaway.

Madison was a pretty cool town and we enjoyed the time we spent there. The main streets and bars were quite poppin’ despite the loss, but let’s pump the breaks on these lofty labels.

Penn State Scores From Under Center

On the very first drive of the game, Sean Clifford lined up under center and hiked the ball. Lord knows how long it’s been since the last time the Nittany Lions did this.

There was plenty of preseason buzz about Penn State taking snaps under center under offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, but it finally came to a head against Wisconsin.

Noah Cain lined up behind an under-center Clifford and punched it in from a couple of yards out. What turned out to be the game-winning touchdown came from a non-shotgun snap. Welcome to 2021.

Incorrect Out-Of-Town Scoreboard Riles Crowd Up

At some random point throughout the game, the Camp Randall Stadium scoreboard operator incorrectly displayed that both Michigan and Nebraska were losing 24-7. As you might expect, both Penn State and Wisconsin fans let out pretty big cheers.

A few possessions later, the operator displayed the correct scores, which showed both of those Big Ten foes with big leads. Understandably, everyone in the stadium groaned. It was probably an honest mistake, but it briefly injected some life into a low-scoring game.

Madison Bars Are Fun, But They Let You Play Penn State Songs

As you might expect for a college town in Wisconsin, Madison is littered with bars. Our crew hopped around a bit but spent most of our night at “The Double U,” a pretty fun bar with a strangely exclusive rooftop section.

Madison was pretty electric Saturday night. Despite the loss, most people were friendly and in good mood. However, at one point during the night “Fight On State” started blaring inside the bar, much to the delight of our crew and the rest of the Penn Staters around. Naturally, we headed over to the Touch Tunes and queued up “Zombie Nation,” which turned out to be pretty electric.

Maybe it’s just because I’m from Philly and have witnessed opposing fans get beat up and heckled from a very young age, but I feel like this wouldn’t fly in State College. If a Wisconsin song started playing in Champs after a Penn State loss, something tells me bad things would happen. Props to everyone in Wisconsin for being so cool about it.

Gus Johnson Is Still Goated

Watching the game highlights back with Gus Johnson’s calls was a good time. The iconic FOX broadcaster seemed to be very excited college football is back in full swing.

Something about his joyous screams just gets the people going. Add this to his list of epic Penn State calls alongside “Barkley down the sidELINE” and “Will — THE THRILL — Levis.”

The Wisconsin Student Section Doesn’t Like Penn State (Or Michigan)

Between “Fuck Penn State” and “Fuck you eat shit,” the Badgers showed their dismay for the Nittany Lions early and often. It’s fine. At least “Jump Around” was cool. Also, Wisconsin fans didn’t miss any opportunity to chant “and Michigan still sucks.”

Another tidbit to add here was a frat house right outside the stadium had a sign that said “Bill Cosby Went To Penn State,” which is factually incorrect. If you’re going to take shots, at least cite your sources.

Allen Robinson, Adrian Amos Cheer On Penn State

Having fans back in the stands also means college football alums are back in the stands. Notably, former Penn State football stars Allen Robinson and Adrian Amos ventured over to Madison to support the Nittany Lions in their season opener.

Nittany Lions Show Out In Pit Vipers

Plenty of Nittany Lions’ Gameday outfits featured the iconic Pit Viper shades. With new NIL rules in place, perhaps some sort of sponsorship could be in the works?

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected]

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