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Penn State Football White Out 2017: Must-See Details & History

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Penn State has been a bastion of college football for decades. The university and their team the Nittany Lions hold a significant number of on-field victories, from their two consensus national championships in 1982 and 1986 to their four Big Ten Conference Championships in 1994, 2005, 2008, and 2016. Beaver Stadium, where the Nittany Lions play at home, is the second-largest stadium in all of America. It’s safe to say that Penn State fans are some of the most fervent football fans out there, and nothing shows the depth of that fervency quite like White Out games.

This Saturday, 10/21/17, the No. 2 ranked Nittany Lions are going to be facing off against the No. 19 Michigan Wolverines at home in Beaver Stadium for this season’s Penn State White Out game.


History of the White Out

College football fans will undoubtedly be aware of the term White Out, though others might be confused by the idea. The White Out is a fairly new tradition in the history of Penn State football but has become a very popular one among students, alumni, and college football audience at large.

The tradition started in 2004 when Penn State was suffering through their fourth losing season in 5 years. Attendance to the games was down and morale was low. The administration knew that they needed to bolster that morale and get people back to cheering the Nittany Lions on, and they wanted that boost to come from the students.

On October 9th, 2004, the Nittany Lions were to go head-to-head against the No. 9 ranked Purdue, and in anticipation of that game, the athletic department held a Friday night pep rally where they encouraged students to go and ‘white out’ the opposing team. Dress in white, wave white towels and shakers and really make the stadium shudder with their cheers.

Penn State ultimately lost that game, but the attitude of the White Out game was created. The university’s then-director of branding for football Guido D’Elia said that as a result of the White Out, “the stadium [went] from the “quietest 100,000 people’ label to the liveliest, depending on whom you talk to.”

Since the first White Out game in 2004, Penn State has held one every season (except 2010). Building on the mentality that had been established against Purdue, the university grew White Out games into stadium-wide events against marquee opponents, culminating in the Penn State White House games which take the whiteout to another level.


White House Games

The first of these full-stadium White House games was in 2007 against Notre Dame. 110,078 fans came to white out the Fighting Irish, resulting in a veritable sea of white on all sides. where the Nittany Lions won 31-10.

That full-stadium White House game set the standard for all future white out games to rise to, and it has not disappointed since. The tradition has held on and Penn State has had a White House game every season with the exception of 2010 when the department deferred it to the following year due to a weak home schedule.

The stadium is always full and ticket prices range from $220 to over $1000. When students are asked to describe the feeling of being at a White House game, the most common response is typically “you can’t.”

Last season’s White House game was an impressive one, where the Nittany Lions were picking up steam after an underwhelming 2-2 start (including an embarrassing loss to Michigan). Penn State went up against No. 2 Ohio State for their White House game the clear underdog, but kept the game close and ultimately eked out a victory in a tense 24-21 final.

Grant Haley picked up a blocked field goal and returned it 60 yards to give Penn State the game-clinching 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter. The play sealed the game for Penn State and arguably the rest of their conference season as the shaky start had been firmly shaken off. Penn State went on to win the Big Ten Championship Game and went to this year’s Rose Bowl.


Penn State White Out 2017

This year’s matchup against Michigan promises to be an exciting one and an important one for gauging the rest of the Nittany Lion’s season. Penn State is ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, and that’s the highest they’ve been ranked since 1994. With a 6-0 streak going into No. 19 Michigan, this game has a lot riding on it for both teams to establish how the rest of the season could play out.

This will also be the fifth time that Michigan has seen Penn State for a White Out game and the teams are 2-2 in their last 4 matchups. If Penn State takes this victory they will be 7-7 in total White Out matchups.

The best part about the White Out is the home field advantage, and that will play to the Nittany Lions’ defense existing strengths. Michigan has seen an impressive rushing season so far, so they’ll be expected to push the ball forward on the ground. Penn State’s offense has been sketchy this season, surrendering 16 sacks so far this season and performing even worse on tackles for loss. Conversely, Michigan’s defense is steadfast, averaging 3.5 yards per play.

Thankfully for Penn State though, Michigan’s offensive is nothing explosive. They’re currently averaging only two offensive touchdowns per game and going into some of the best defense they could go against. Penn State’s defensive line is No. 1 in scoring defense and No. 3 in turnovers forced. They should be more than able to keep the pressure on the weaker Michigan offensive line and force turnovers for big, explosive plays.

However the matchup plays out, there is no underestimating the next few weeks’ significance for Penn State’s season. after Michigan is No. 6 Ohio State and then No. 18 Michigan State. If the Nittany Lions’ offensive line doesn’t shape up, these teams will quickly descend upon them and make way for their own seasons.

Penn State just needs to be sharp and avoid huge mistakes and they should clinch at least Michigan on Saturday.


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