Onward Debates: Should Penn State Football Host Its White Out Against West Virginia?

For the first time since 2001, Penn State football will begin its regular-season slate under the lights against West Virginia at Beaver Stadium.

The 7:30 p.m. kickoff slot on September 2 will debut NBC’s Big Ten Saturday Night coverage, which will feature a weekly primetime showing within the conference throughout the campaign. 

While the Nittany Lions’ schedule features other marquee home dates with Iowa and Michigan, there’s no telling which network will poach the pair of battles before the season’s onset, leaving the remaining kickoff times to be determined. 

With several factors still up in the air, Penn State is now guaranteed to play at least one night game in Beaver Stadium’s familiar territory — a trend that has held steady since 2020.

In light of the recent scheduling announcement, two of our staffers debated whether Penn State should host its annual White Out matchup during week one, or save the spectacle for a battle against a potentially fiercer opponent. 

Connor Krause: Save The White Out For Either Iowa Or Michigan

Although last season’s 45-17 White Out drubbing at the expense of Minnesota provided Beaver Stadium’s extended-capacity crowd with fireworks throughout, it proved that the Nittany Lions’ most advantageous home atmosphere should undoubtedly be saved for its toughest counterpart. 

Since 2016, every White Out has been played under the lights, and pegging West Virginia as the spectacle’s 2023 victim would automatically continue that trend without additional scheduling stress. However, Athlon Sports recently nabbed the Mountaineers as the worst squad in the Big 12 post-spring, which includes Cincinnati, Houston, BYU, and UCF. 

Iowa’s schedule littered with weak divisional crossover bouts could allow Kirk Ferentz’s troops to eclipse the 10-win mark, but a late-September White Out trip would likely derail his unit’s early momentum. Moreover, while Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff is all but a shoo-in to broadcast the Nittany Lions’ date with the Wolverines on November 11, the early kickoff time shouldn’t scare off the White Out treatment as it did a year ago.

If last season’s scheduling quirks proved anything, it’s that White Outs should favor opponent pedigree over kickoff time. Of course, when given the opportunity, hosting a primetime White Out against a likely ranked squad is always the go-to option. But, times are sadly changing on the Big Ten’s programming front. 

Penn State shouldn’t let big-time television networks hold the “Greatest Show in College Sports” mercy to lesser products on the field. The aesthetic of day-time White Outs has proven to rival night settings, as seen in 2011 against Alabama and 2015 against Michigan. There’s absolutely zero reason the athletic department shouldn’t swallow its pride, and take the high road. 

Joe Lister: Do It. White Out Against West Virginia. 

Sure, a White Out on the first game of the season, even one of the first weekends of the school year, could be a little overkill. But then again, it could be just what Penn State needs.

With the potential that the 2023 season has for Penn State football, the Nittany Lions will want to get off to a hot start. Last year’s matchup at Purdue showed us that no matter how easy the opponent may seem, the season opener is always difficult. Adding the White Out element gives Penn State the upper hand to start the season strong.

Also, the West Virginia game may be the only chance Penn State has at a good White Out game this season. The Michigan matchup could be during the day (and Penn State fans have already said they don’t want a White Out paired with the sun), and the Iowa game could very well be unimportant should the Hawkeyes have an unimpressive season.

West Virginia isn’t a perfect option for the White Out, but it could be the best one that Penn State might have.

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