Congratulations, Penn State, for ending your nine-game, 12-year losing streak to Michigan with a 46-17 thumping on Saturday. Your fans have been waiting a long time for this day, and I must say, they deserved it.
What I experienced in State College on Saturday was tremendous class and a great game day atmosphere.
I drove into State College at 8:00 am on Saturday morning with my wife and another couple of Michigan fans. Our first stop was Wal-Mart to pick up our parking pass from a PSU-grad friend and groceries for the day of tailgating. The store was littered with Penn State fans, most of whom were appreciative of us being there and wished us luck for that afternoon.
From there we went to one of the yellow lots to park. I couldn’t believe how close all the parking/tailgating was to the stadium. All surrounding the stadium were grass lots peppered with cars, trucks, and RVs.
After we parked, since it was only about 9:00 am at that point, we walked across campus to The Diner for the famous sticky buns. We all agreed that they were amazing and well worth the long walk. The campus was nice and we got heckled by a few fans, but nothing bad.
When we got back to our car and got out our grill (that we bought at Wal-Mart because we were told that the charcoal grill we brought wouldn’t be allowed), a group of PSU fans came up to us. They helped us set it up and light it and “the bucket lady” offered us sips from her bucket of gin and sliced lemons. I didn’t dare put my lips anywhere near that thing, but the offer was generous.
Throughout the chilly afternoon leading up to the game, PSU fans came over and talked to us, welcoming us to State College and wishing us luck. They expressed their concern for the game, despite Michigan’s down year and Penn State’s great season so far, since Penn State can never seem to beat Michigan.
They also told us that they appreciated that we would still drive out here, tailgate, and go to the game all decked out in our Michigan gear despite our team having a 2-4 record.
When we got into the stadium, we found a great atmosphere. Our seats were way up in the Michigan section, but it was a great view and didn’t seem too far away from the field.
It was great watching the Michigan offense perform well beyond expectations in the first half and hearing 110,000 fans fall silent in disbelief. Unfortunately, it couldn’t be sustained and Penn State rolled to a second half blowout.
The overall experience was a great one even though Michigan lost. From what we experienced, I would rate Penn State fans as the class of the Big Ten and the football game day experience one of the top I’ve ever seen.
They put Ohio State, Michigan State, and even Iowa fans to shame. Sure we heard a few obscenities and put-downs, but 95 percent of the fans were classy and respectable. The few exceptions were the three PSU fans in the row behind us who yelled more obscenities than I’ve ever heard and every five minutes complained about how Michigan always pays off the refs.
If Michigan got a first down, it was because they paid the refs. If Michigan sacked Daryll Clark, it was because they paid the refs. Not to mention, we needed umbrellas with as much spit was flying out of their mouths onto the backs of our heads.
The other exception was in the parking lot on the way out after the game. We had been sitting in our car without moving an inch for over an hour, and when it finally came time to move, I was letting the car to my right in front of me, but the lady to my left cursed me out and got someone to stand in front of my car so she could get in front of me. But I guess if she wanted those extra five feet that badly, she obviously needed it, so more power to her.
Like I said, those were only the exceptions, and the overall treatment by Penn State fans and the game day experience were fantastic. I have a newfound respect for PSU and wish them the best the rest of the season.
Congrats on the win and breaking the streak. You have bragging rights at least until Oct. 24, 2009. Go blue!