It’s arguably the best tradition in College football and one of the biggest games of Penn State’s season.
Over 100,000-plus fans pack Beaver Stadium under the lights in their white shirts. It’s mesmerizing to the naked eye, viewing the world’s fourth-largest stadium filled to the top in bright white. Factor in the noise levels from all of the screaming fans, and the venue becomes a house of pain for visitors.
Penn State’s White Out is one of the Big Ten’s most anticipated contests. It’s also one of the most viewed games that’s usually against a high-profile opponent. Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Auburn have all invaded Happy Valley for the White Out. This past June Penn State announced that Minnesota will be this year’s White Out opponent. It was sort of a head-scratcher to fans. After all, the Golden Gophers don’t move the needle like the Buckeyes, who they play at home the following week.
However, Coach James Franklin emphasized at Big Ten Media Days that Penn State’s options were limited. Not only are the Nittany Lions the lone Big Ten team that’ll open conference play on the road for nine-straight seasons, but they also won’t host a league opponent until October. That’s usually when Pennsylvania weather drifts significantly in temperature. And that plays a factor when selecting a foe for the event.
“There’s certain things from a scheduling perspective in the Big Ten where it currently sits, that we can’t have night games after a certain point on the schedule,” Franklin said. “If you want all the fans to dress up in white, that becomes more difficult later in the season when people want to wear their hunting gear to stay warm.”
So Penn State had to choose between Northwestern and Minnesota, the first two foes on the home slate in October. Not to mention FOX will likely pick up the clash against the Buckeyes for its’ noon kickoff. No doubt the Nittany Lions hands were tied about the decision. Still, the Golden Gophers are a better draw than the Wildcats in terms of national appeal. Penn State even conducted a simple poll on social media regarding the White Out, and got input from the fans.
The data revealed most of them preferred the White Out to stay a night matchup because of the fireworks. With it annually airing in prime time, Franklin fears the event may no longer be the headliner of the weekend.
“With the noon games if you look at the ratings, the Big Ten has done unbelievably well,” the 50-year old coach said. “I think it’s been an ingenious approach in terms of starting out College football Saturdays.”
The Nittany Lions are 9-8 overall in White Out games, but have won four of their last five. A lot of football will be played before October 22 though. Regardless, Franklin is confident his team will have success and momentum the closer they get to their annual showdown in front of the Nittany Lion faithful.