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Gameday Observations: Villanova

Penn State comfortably defeated Villanova 38-17 Saturday afternoon and improved to 4-0 on the season. Strong play from Sean Clifford and the Nittany Lions’ wide receivers helped Penn State finish off its final non-conference opponent of the season.

Saturday’s game was a noon kickoff against a relatively tame opponent, but that’s not to say it wasn’t an entertaining affair. Here are a few noteworthy things we saw in the stands, tailgate lots, and beyond.

Gate A Entry Remains A Breeze

I’m not quite sure how, but student entry at Gate A has been easy-peasy so far this season. As an iPhone user, it’s incredibly convenient to already have my tickets loaded onto my phone before venturing over to the stadium. Plus, we no longer need to frantically search for an internet connection to pull passes up before getting in line.

The entry process essentially remains the same. Students hold their phone (with a ticket pulled up) next to a touchless reader to receive the paper ticket that points them in the right direction. Once that’s taken care of, walk-through metal detectors check each fan before they’re set free on the concourse.

Even if your experience getting into games hasn’t been perfect, there’s no doubt it’s better than it was back in 2019 when mobile tickets debuted. What a shitshow, man.

THON-Themed S-Zone Still Rocks

When you’re at a game where Penn State plays a less-than-thrilling opponent, it’s the little things that count. This week, one of my favorite sights to see was a festive S-Zone display celebrating THON and the fight against childhood cancer.

Penn State’s players also wore THON stickers on the backs of their helmets throughout Saturday’s game.

NCAA Champs In The House

Few schools in the country get to say they boast a handful of national champions. Even fewer can bring ’em to a packed stadium for the recognition they deserve.

Penn State did just that Saturday when fencing title-winner Ryan Griffiths and Penn State wrestling’s Roman Bravo-Young, Nick Lee, Aaron Brooks, and Carter Starocci visited the south end zone midway through the game. The group led a hearty “We Are” cheer to get the crowd going, too.

Nittany Lion Blows Villanova Away


Early in the game, the Nittany Lion was spotted on the sidelines sporting a leaf blower, seemingly mocking Villanova’s team in the process. While practicing this week, the Wildcats used leaf blowers during team drills to simulate Beaver Stadium’s always-daunting crowd noise and energy.

I gotta say, the leaf blower was a nice touch. It’s a subtle joke that folks at home would get if they paid attention to the news, but it’s not crude or too in-your-face. The Symbol of Our Best is a master troll.

Attendance Remains Steady

Boy, I was legitimately shocked to see most of Beaver Stadium filled this weekend. I guess I’d thought a good portion of fans would’ve felt burned out after last weekend’s White Out win and visit from College GameDay.

Still, 105,790 fans showed up bright and early for a noon kickoff against an FCS team. Even better, the student section was nearly filled to the brim. That’s dedication!

Crowd-Surf Success

For the first time this season, the student section successfully carried the Nittany Lion up from the field to the top of the south end zone. Against Ball State and Auburn, the Lion quickly sank like a stone into a sea of confused students who probably didn’t know what to expect.

The Nittany Lion’s crowd-surfing success is certainly encouraging for the student section, which objectively began the season on a questionable note, although to no fault of its own. When about 10,000 students had never attended a game in the student section before this fall, it’s hard to blame them for not catching every drift.

If you’re still in need of some gameday refreshers, check out our full Beaver Stadium etiquette guide.

Fans Rally Behind Injured Wildcat

During the second half’s opening kickoff, Villanova tight end Tyler Will sustained a frightening injury that halted play for a good chunk of time. He was quickly taken off the field on a stretcher as players and coaches from both sides knelt on the field.

About 45 minutes later, Penn State announced Will suffered a concussion and was escorted to a local hospital for more evaluations. Will was alert and had full movement before leaving the stadium.

Will’s status update garnered perhaps the biggest cheer among fans Saturday afternoon. That kind of objective support from home and visiting fans alike is what it’s all about, folks. The whole ordeal reminded me a lot of former Buffalo Evan Finegan, who sustained a gruesome leg injury at Penn State in 2019 but received strong support from the Nittany Lions.

Nittany Lion Rocks ‘Ferris Bueller’ Costume

Man, the Lion was busy this weekend.

Midway through the game, the Symbol of our Best came out ready to rock dressed head-to-toe in an outfit directly inspired by Ferris Bueller in his titular classic comedy. The Lion led the crowd through a rendition of the Beatles’ cover of “Twist And Shout,” which was objectively a fantastic time.

I gotta say, the Lion looked fantastic in this little getup. We’ll definitely need to add it to our official power rankings of his many, many costumes and outfits.

No, JoePa Didn’t Get Cut Out Of The Team Entrance Video

When Penn State played Ball State in the Nittany Lions’ home opener earlier this month, I could’ve sworn Joe Paterno was missing from the team’s pregame hype video on the jumbotron. About midway through the traditional production, fans see a bunch of clips from Penn State’s past, including notable wins, plays, and faces.

Back in 2019 (the most recent season with fans), Paterno is featured a number of times, most notably alongside his wife, Sue, on the sidelines. However, that clip is no longer in today’s production.

What is featured, though, is a brief (and we mean brief) snippet of Penn State’s players hoisting Paterno up on their shoulders following the Nittany Lions’ 1983 Sugar Bowl win over Georgia to claim the 1982 national title. You’d really need to pay attention to catch it.

Longtime Penn State fans can take a deep breath knowing JoePa is safe and sound in this year’s hype video. Still, you’d hope one day we can get him a little more screen time.

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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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