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Gameday Observations: Auburn White Out

Holy cow! What a weekend.

In case you somehow missed it (shame on you), Penn State’s 2021 White Out was off the chain, baby. An electric 28-20 win over Auburn and a visit from ESPN’s College GameDay cranked things up to 11 over the biggest Penn State football weekend in years.

Throughout such a remarkable occasion, there was a lot going on in the stands, tailgate lots, and beyond. Here are a few noteworthy things we saw over the weekend:

College GameDay Returns

For the fifth straight year, ESPN’s College GameDay returned to Happy Valley to air live from Penn State’s campus. The flagship college football morning show set up on Old Main Lawn and treated fans to a morning chock-full of entertainment.

Countless fan-made signs made fun of Bo Nix, Auburn’s schooling, and everything in between. Plus, Saquon Barkley stopped by to serve as the show’s guest picker.

Penn State is the only school to host College GameDay in each of the last five years. But after this weekend’s showing, it’s clear that’s no accident at all. Nobody does it better.

Guest Stars Galore

Everyone loves a White Out, but Penn State football alumni showed up in droves this time around. From Michael Mauti to Grant Haley, Nittany Lions from dozens of teams were ready to rock in Beaver Stadium Saturday night.

Many got to speak to the crowd throughout the game and lead a few hearty “We Are” cheers. Honorary captain Adam Taliaferro walked out of the tunnel before kickoff, reenacting his legendary appearance 20 years ago following his recovery from a terrifying spinal cord injury.

Taliaferro speaks to 109,000-plus fans at Beaver Stadium

Additionally, Penn State celebrities like President Eric Barron and men’s basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry were present, too. Some folks, including Micah Parsons, recorded video messages in place of a physical appearance.

Beaver Stadium Attendance Impresses

Although it didn’t set a new record, Saturday night’s Beaver Stadium attendance impressed.

The White Out brought in 109,958 fans, landing as the 10th-largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history. Outside of the 2021 Indy 500, Saturday’s game looks like it was the most-attended post-pandemic sporting event in the United States.

Blimps Are Cool!

OK, it’s extremely clear that Penn State fans have an unhealthy obsession with the Goodyear Blimp…and it loves us right back.

The blimp circled high above Beaver Stadium all night long Saturday to give ESPN’s broadcast some extra-juicy money shots. It even said it wanted to come back for every future White Out, too.

Mike Yurcich Is Getting Weird In The Best Way

If you caught even 10 minutes of this weekend’s game, you probably saw Penn State’s offense pulling some pretty neat stunts. Through three games, it’s clear offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is here to move the ball, no matter what it might take.

Some screenshots from proud Onward State alum Bill DiFilippo give a quick glance at what we’re talking about. From offensive linemen lining up wide to Jahan Dotson throwing passes, Penn State clearly isn’t afraid to let loose and see sticks. Best of all: It’s working.

I almost fell over in the bleachers (out of excitement!) when Penn State dialed up a fake punt midway through the game. Although the referees ruled Penn State short, it looked like the Nittany Lions had enough juice to cross the line to gain. Either way, it’s a gutsy play call, and Penn State’s new-look offense is undeniably exciting after a few so-so seasons.

Give Auburn Fans Credit

Saturday night was all about Penn State fans and the White Out, but you’ve got to give the Auburn faithful a hand, too. I don’t have any exact numbers, but Tigers fans showed up in droves to support their team, and it was pretty damn cool.

I mean, just take a look at how much orange we’ve got in this full-stadium shot.

My interactions with Auburn fans were pretty good, too. While a few Onward State folks were in Willard Building covering College GameDay, two Auburn fans with beers in hand wandered through the halls and asked me for directions to the nearest bathroom. They thanked me “kindly” in a perfect southern draw and seemed pleasantly surprised by the brief hospitality.

Student Section Etiquette Improves…A Little

Last weekend was likely the first Penn State football game for more than 10,000 Penn State students. Naturally, the student section was a little rusty.

This time around, things generally improved — perhaps thanks to our own etiquette guide. Still, though, there’s clearly work to be done.

First off, how many times are we going to drop the Nittany Lion during a crowd-surf this year? For the second week in a row, the Symbol of Our Best sank like a stone into a sea of students. Admittedly, though, I don’t blame them. I’m pretty sure the crowd-surf in question began as Auburn’s offense took the field for a huge third-down play. Bad timing, I guess.

Safety remains a big concern, too. Between my friends and I, we saw a number of fights break out in the student section. Overcrowded aisles and walkways were a concern, too, considering how it was nearly impossible to move past those in the way if you were headed up to a concessions stand. Imagine how bad it’d be if there were an emergency.

The golden rule for Beaver Stadium’s student section is simple: Don’t be a dick. No matter how drunk you might be, there’s no reason to throw bottles and lemons at fans or hurl open ketchup packets in a crowd full of white outfits. Come on, man.

White Out Noise Is Still Legit

You guys were loud Saturday night! Some folks in a Penn State Facebook group said their Apple Watches recorded levels higher than 125 decibels when the Nittany Lions cheered at the White Out. For reference, a plane taking off is generally estimated to check in at 120 decibels.

By my count, Penn State fans got loud enough to cause four Auburn disruptions, including some key false starts. All those sore throats are definitely worth it, though.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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