Penn State Football: 8 Reasons Why State College Is the Best Game Day Experience
Between tailgates and whiteouts, there are plenty of reasons why State College is the home to one of the top scenes for a college football experience to soak in.
Here are eight reasons why every college football fan should visit State College at least once before finishing off their college football bucket list.
Feel free to add your own reasons as well, because there are plenty of reasons to enjoy a game in State College every fall.
1. The White House
It has become one of the latest trends in college football to have everyone attending the game wear the same color, but few schools can pull off the feat the way Penn State has in recent years. The Beaver Stadium-wide whiteout, now nicknamed The White House, made a grand impression during the 2005 season, when Penn State's student section united in white for a prime time game against Ohio State. A couple of years later, the entire stadium got in on the fun for a game against Notre Dame.
This season, the entire stadium will dress in white for a home game against Alabama. The whiteout has become such an event that fans look forward to learning which game will receive the treatment months in advance. For the 2011 season, fans have been calling for the Alabama game to be given the white out touch even before the 2010 season got underway.
Penn State was not the first to do a white out, but they have perfected it.
The tailgating routine is common in every college and pro football site in the United States, but at Penn State, the tailgate is a tradition like no other.
The campers roll in to town days in advance, and fans travel from all corners of the state early Saturday morning to reach Happy Valley hours before kickoff to relax and enjoy some good food and beverages with their friends and family and share some good stories to pass the time.
Burgers, hot dogs, steaks, sausages and eggs are just the beginning in State College. Take a stroll through the parking lots, and you will find elaborate catering with shrimp, pork and more. Look for themed tailgate parties and be sure to mark your spot in the parking lot with a flag of your choice.
Visiting fans are no stranger to the tailgate scene and add to the scenery as some friendly fire is directed back and forth, but in the end, everyone is here to enjoy the same experience and have a few laughs.
And if you are kind, maybe you can get a free sample or two from different tailgates.
As the fans start filling the parking lots with their campers and grills, the students on campus begin camping outside the entrance to Beaver Stadium in hopes of getting in the first couple of rows in the student section on game day.
The tradition has become known as Paternoville, similar to Duke's Krzyzewskiville for basketball. Like the student white out, the Paternoville tradition was recognized at the 2005 game against Ohio State and has become a weekly routine during the fall season.
The evolution of Paternoville has grown to include a governing body, including a president and a relationship with the university to ensure safety and order in the process.
4. The Shopping
If you need a break from the tailgating or camping out, then one of the most common ways to kill some time before the game kicks off is by making a run in to town and make a couple stops in the local stores for some Penn State merchandise.
Whether you stop at McLanahan's on the corner or walk down the street to the many stores opening their doors for some good deals on Penn State shirts and collectibles, or make an on-campus stop to the Penn State Student Book Store, be sure to be prepared to carry a bag (or two) back to your vehicle, because you are likely to find something you will want every time you make the trip.
Stores can get kind of crowded on Saturdays, so if you happen to be sticking around until Sunday or getting in town early on Friday, you may want to take advantage of the opportunity to make your shopping run before or after game day.
5. The Blue Band
For over 100 years, the Penn State Blue Band has been as much of a part of the Penn State football experience as the blue and white jerseys.
To this day, the Blue Band is still one of the top marching bands in the country, let alone the Big Ten (which is full of great marching bands). The pregame show is among the best in the country, featuring the famous drum major flip, the exchanging of the baton between the Nittany Lion mascot and drum major, the talented Blue Sapphire and the Floating Lion make up one of the top Saturday routines in the nation.
With a rousing rendition of Fight on State and Hail to the Lion, the pregame performance has largely remained the same for years, wrapping up with the pregame tunnel and the playing of Rock and Roll.
The band has switched spots in the stands over the last few years (and will be moved again in 2011), and their in-game selections have been overshadowed by stale piped in stadium music, so we hope that one day, Penn State realizes that the best way to put on a college football show is by acting like a college football show and letting the Blue Band get their collective voices back during the game.
6. Beaver Stadium
It may not be the largest stadium in the country, or the Big Ten, but Beaver Stadium is still one of the top venues in college football.
Unlike Michigan Stadium, which spans outward, Beaver Stadium is built upward, which ensures a louder crowd noise at crucial points in the game. With fans piled on top of another with two upper decks, one in each end zone, Beaver Stadium can get loud in a hurry.
Enhanced scoreboards in recent years have added to the presentation of the game, and more improvements are coming up for Beaver Stadium according to the school.
7. The Nittany Lion
The master of ceremonies on Saturdays, the Nittany Lion takes on the responsibility for getting the crowd ready for the pregame show and entertained during the stoppages in play during the game.
One of the most recognized mascot in sports, the Nittany Lion dons his Penn State scarf with that game's button with the motto of the week and calls for the fans to cheer from the 50-yard line before every game, going section by section before calling for all fans to cheer as one before the Blue Band's drum line marches forward for the pregame show.
During the game, the Nittany Lion can be found dancing a routine, poking fun with the opposing team's mascot, giving high-fives to the fans and going crowd-surfing to the top of the stadium. And don't forget about the one-handed push-ups, with one for every point Penn State has scored in the game. These push-ups take place after each score, which leaves the Nittany Lion happy that football is played once a week.
Tailgreat is a game day tradition that brings together a number of staples in the Penn State game day experience.
The Blue Band, the cheerleaders and the Nittany Lion all join forces to put on a pregame show in the Bryce Jordan Center hours before kickoff. Fans of the visiting team are encouraged to stop by as well, and the visiting marching band and cheerleaders are invited to participate and perform as well.
This is the perfect alternative for Saturdays when it rains and makes the usual routine a bit soggy.