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Gameday Observations: Rutgers

No. 11 Penn State football came, saw, and conquered in Piscataway Saturday afternoon.

The Nittany Lions took home a smothering 55-10 victory despite a shaky and exciting start to the game. An excellent defensive performance combined with steady play in the run and special teams games made for quick work of the Scarlet Knights.

It was the Nittany Lions’ last regular-season away game, so, naturally, we were on the lookout for all things fun and interesting at SHI Stadium. From another (!) on-field cannon to a touching tribute, this game had it all.

Boardwalk Blows Penn State’s ‘Block Party’ Out Of Water

Time to say something nice about Rutgers. Perhaps it was due to the influx of Penn State fans, but the tailgating scene was lively and on par with what you’d expect to see at Beaver Stadium. There was legitimate energy ahead of kickoff.

Rutgers has a Jersey shore-inspired “boardwalk,” akin to Beaver Stadium’s Block Party, on its version of Curtin Road. Food trucks, an outdoor beer garden, games, and other fun amenities lined the streets. It was packed and offered lots to do outside of just standing in a field and drinking.

Despite the chilly temperatures, it was a perfect day for tailgating and for football.

Rutgers Sets Attendance Record

The Scarlet Knights set a new SHI Stadium attendance record of 55,676 in their third sell-out of the season. The previous record was set in 2014, also against Penn State.

There was quite a blue-and-white contingent in Piscataway Saturday, which certainly played a factor. It seemed like a popular road trip choice for all of the “just outside of Philly” students who were just starting their Thanksgiving breaks.

The crowd thinned out shortly after halftime, but the environment was impressive at the beginning of the game when Rutgers took the lead.

Cannon Game Pt. 2

Penn State is now 2-0 in cannon games this year. Just like in Indiana, Rutgers featured a cannon on the sideline.

Yes, this thing was fully operational and, yes, it fired multiple times throughout the afternoon. It was very loud. Nothing like a few credentialed Revolutionary War soldiers just having fun and blowing things up.

One of the soldiers, remaining in character, took my phone and had me pose in front of the thing. Very cool.

PJ Mullen Makes His Presence Felt

PJ Mullen, who previously served as Penn State’s director of marketing, ~transferred~ to Rutgers in 2021. At times, it felt like we were back in a 2019 version of Beaver Stadium.

From a healthy dose of “Zombie Nation” to “Tick Tick Boom” to even the Scarlet Knights’ own version of PSU TV Guy, it was clear Mullen brought all of his hits over from Happy Valley. We miss you, and we miss “Year 3000,” PJ.

He’s done a good job polishing off Rutgers’ gameday experience as the assistant athletic director of marketing and game presentation. The lighting and sound effects were first-class.

Sorry for the stray, New Jersey. I just had to drive on one too many jug handles on the way to the stadium.

Onward State Braves The Elements

Just like how the stands were sold out to fans, the press box was sold out to reporters, too. Because of this, both Onward State and The Daily Collegian, among a few other outlets, were seated at the outdoor ~auxiliary~ press box.

By the middle of the first quarter, Sam Fremin and I were the only ones left in this box. We’re just grittier than our colleagues at The Daily Collegian I suppose. We felt much more immersed in the game as many press boxes in the Big Ten are usually pretty insulated from crowd noise. Open-air for the win.

The Scarlet Knight Rules

Just look at this guy.

Both Teams Honor Virginia

Both Rutgers and Penn State wore stickers on their helmets to remember University of Virginia football players Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler, and D’Sean Perry, who were fatally shot last week.

James Franklin also wore an orange ribbon on his hoodie.

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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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