Gameday Observations: Indiana

Penn State football is coming home with a surgical win over Indiana.

The game featured some exciting play from young stars like Kaytron Allen and Drew Allar, but the real excitement was what went down in and around Memorial Stadium this weekend.

Between a loud cannon, a familiar pylon, a beautiful campus, and a disastrous motel situation, our trip to Bloomington sure was interesting.

Bloomington Is…Awesome?

The best part of road-tripping to away games is getting to soak up the cultures and college towns of other Big Ten schools. We spent some significant time in Bloomington and on Indiana’s campus both Friday and Saturday, and it was hard not to be impressed.

Indiana’s campus is beautiful and was showing off some fun colors despite being past peak fall foliage season. The buildings were uniform, benches and gazebos lined the walkways, and trees were abundant. I’d love to come back and spend some more time here.

Downtown Bloomington differs from State College in that town starts on the west end of campus and is laid out vertically. It seemed like basically everyone was getting to downtown through the iconic Sample Gates, which served as an entrance to campus on the west end, while downtown State College lines campus horizontally to the south.

There was a college downtown area with bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and stores, similar to State College. And then, a few blocks away, there was an additional strip of nightlife near the courthouse, which seemed more geared toward adults.

Oh, and there was a rooftop bar literally called “the upstairs pub.” It’s like they were rubbing in State College’s lack of vertical drinking establishments.

It’s A Blustery Day, James

The high winds and damp forecast were a big story heading into the matchup. The National Weather Service predicted wind speeds between 20 and 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph on the day. Indiana football even banned unattended tents from the tailgating lots.

The rain ended up holding off during the game, and the wind didn’t end up being a huge factor down on the field, which James Franklin admitted after the game. But, it was absolutely whipping from the upper levels of Memorial Stadium.

Poor Attendance, Poor Atmosphere

When you’re used to 107K+ at every home game, this was a shocker. Attendance was reported at 45,142 (86%), which was incredibly inaccurate. Tickets were less than $5 just before kick. Vibes peaked during the first quarter, but pregame and after halftime got ugly.

It was almost reminiscent of the last time Penn State played at Memorial Stadium, which was during the COVID-19 pandemic when only families were permitted. It was tough to see after the Nittany Lions’ other away games were great environments at Purdue, Auburn, and Michigan. The weather didn’t help.

There Was A Very Loud Cannon On The Field

Apparently, this happens at every Indiana game, but I was not prepared. After the Hoosiers scored their first touchdown, an incredibly loud blank cannon blast went off. Members of the school’s Army ROTC guarded and manned this big boy named “Big Jake.”

The first blast was shocking. But, by the time Indiana scored again in the fourth quarter, I had completely forgotten about it. So, I was in for a shock again. But then Big Jake went off a third time when the game was over. No better way to celebrate a 45-14 defeat than firing heavy artillery, I guess. Just not a cannon guy.

Pat Kraft was standing on the sideline and was also Big Surprised by Big Jake. That’s one way to welcome you to Bloomington.

Memorial Stadium Impresses

Attendance wasn’t amazing, but Memorial Stadium was very cool. Indiana has clearly put a lot of effort into keeping a uniform limestone look across its athletics complex, and it paid off. The place had a lot of charm and the football facilities within the stadium were much more modern and impressive than Beaver Stadium.

Shirtless Lads Make The Most Of The Loss

Sometimes there are 50 mph gusts of wind and your football team is losing by 30 points. When that happens, sometimes the only next course of action is to take your shirt off, I guess.

Beautiful sunset, by the way.

We Discovered The Worst Motel In America

The owner of this unnamed motel was actually incredibly kind and helpful and ended up booking us a night at a different lodging establishment. But, somehow, a mysterious brown substance appeared in our shower after we went out for the night on Friday. I’m not really sure if I want to get into it more than that. I don’t have the answers, either.

It’s a shame because I really liked the place before that. Economical. Great location. Fun-colored sheets. But the bathroom debacle ruined things. We brushed our teeth outside and got out of there Saturday morning.

Revenge Of The Pylon

No further questions, your honor.

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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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