ESPN’s Chris Fowler’s viewing of Penn State football ran the gamut.
From rooting for “some of Joe Paterno’s most boring teams” in the ’70s, to returning to where he grew up watching college football this weekend for his “favorite annual event,” the Longtime college football announcer has seen it all.
And yet, despite the poor quality of the teams and the less-than-dynamic attacks that often took the field at Beaver Stadium on Saturday in the mid-’70s, seeing those games is what made Fowler addicted to the sport.
“My first glimpse into college football was as a son of a faculty member. We got $ 6 season tickets – that was the full price for the season – and we got to see college football. “said Fowler. had this experience i don’t know if i would be down this path as i grew up in illinois and haven’t seen varsity sport in person. So coming to Penn State opened my eyes and kind of sparked my passion for the sport. “
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Almost 50 years later, Beaver Stadium is home to one of college football’s best experiences – the Penn State White Out game, set to take place this weekend – where all 110,000 fans wear white at Beaver Stadium. for a fight of “monochrome chaos,” as Fowler described it.
But the atmosphere that now envelops the central Pennsylvania cathedral of college football is a far cry from what Fowler has seen grow up.
“Even though Beaver Stadium has changed a lot since I went there as a kid, I still have a special feeling to come back to this place,” Fowler told media Thursday ahead of the iteration of White Out vs. Auburn. “It wasn’t one of the loudest college crowds in the 1970s.
That has changed in recent years, however, and that’s in large part because of White Out.
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“I don’t think you would have said that Penn State was one of the toughest environments for a road team back when I was there, but I think it is now,” Fowler said. “As the stadium grew and the student section grew and the students, I think, over the years have kind of taught the regular fans how to get involved in the game in every game and how to play. a role in the outcome making it a very difficult environment. That’s what I think White Out was partly responsible for. “
The Nittany Lions are 2-0 on the season and did not host a White Out last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sporting News has everything you need to know about the tradition, which has become one of the hallmarks of college football every year.
How did Penn State’s White Out tradition begin?
In the early 2000s, Penn State was in trouble.
From 2000 to 2005, the Nittany Lions recorded just two winning seasons and the fan base needed to be reinvigorated.
So one day in 2004, during the throes of the downturn at State College, the former Penn State Director of Football Communications and Branding, Guido D’Elia approached Joe Paterno about the idea. of a White Out.
Originally intended only for students, it eventually grew into a full stadium affair, with the help of Fowler’s friend D’Elia.
“I think it was a very inspired idea. I love how it developed organically from something just for students, then the whole stadium, down the story, the fans. sort of asked for it and then they made it happen in a really kind of restraint, “Fowler said.” They didn’t want to overplay it, overdo it, they wanted to keep it special and rare, and once a season and reserve it for a big game. “
The first official White Out was on October 9, 2004 against No. 9 Purdue in a game Penn State lost 20-13. The first White Out of all stadiums came three years later in 2007 against Notre Dame.
Since then, the annual lore, now in its 17th season, has grown into one of the sport’s most prominent shows, and Fowler said it’s hard to describe.
“Once you see it in person for the first time, you can really appreciate it,” Fowler said. “It looks phenomenal on TV and I call it the most telegenic experience in sport, because it’s a night game and the stadium is lit by everyone dressed in white, the lights of artifice and game operations – everything is beautifully executed. “
Why Penn State doesn’t wear white uniforms during White Out
While most inside Beaver Stadium will be decked out in white, James Franklin’s team themselves will likely wear their classic blue uniforms with white numbers, white pants, and black shoes when they step onto the pitch. against Auburn.
The uniforms, none of which have a name on the back, have become synonymous with Penn State over the years and although Penn State wears white jerseys, it’s never within the confines of Beaver Stadium, even for a White Out. .
The reason, in essence, concerns the NCAA rules regarding dress codes for away teams, which must wear white unless the home team receives express written consent before the start of the season.
Penn State Record in White Out Games
There have been 16 White Outs at Beaver Stadium so far since 2004, and none took place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Penn State is 8-8 in the White Outs and played one of the states of Michigan or Ohio in each White Out from 2012 to 2019
|October 9, 2004||# 9 Purdue||L, 21-13|
|October 8, 2005||Ohio State # 6||F, 17-10|
|October 14, 2006||# 4 Michigan||L, 17-10|
|September 8, 2007||our Lady||F, 31-10|
|September 27, 2008||No. 22 Illinois||F, 38-24|
|September 26, 2009||Iowa||L, 21-10|
|October 30, 2010||Michigan||W, 41-31|
|September 10, 2011||Alabama # 3||L, 27-11|
|October 27, 2012||Ohio State # 9||L, 35-23|
|October 12, 2013||# 18 Michigan||W, 43-40 (4OT)|
|October 25, 2014||Ohio State # 12||L, 31-24 (2OT)|
|November 21, 2015||# 14 Michigan||L, 28-16|
|October 22, 2016||Ohio State # 2||O, 24-21|
|October 21, 2017||# 19 Michigan||W, 42-13|
|September 29, 2018||Ohio State # 4||L, 27-26|
|October 19, 2019||# 16 Michigan||F, 28-21|
|2020||No whiteout||N / A|
The Nittany Lions are averaging 24.8 points per game in the White Outs and this year is only the third non-conference clash for the White Out after Alabama in 2011 and Notre Dame in 2007.
Best moments of the game White Out
October 22, 2016: against number 2 in the state of Ohio
Arguably the defining victory of James Franklin’s career and Penn State’s last decade of football, the Nittany Lions then eliminated the No. 2 Ohio State at home thanks to a field goal blocked by Marcus Allen who then sent the ball to Grant Haley, who picked it up and scored as they held on to win 24-21 despite being 19.5-point underdogs at home.
The game, whose game with just over four minutes to go, won it for Penn State as the Nittany Lions won the fourth quarter 17-0 after falling 21-7 after the first half. Following the victory, fans stormed the field after the final whistle and riots broke out in downtown State College.
It was the first ranked victory of James Franklin’s career and also the first road loss for the Buckeyes under Urban Meyer.
October 12, 2013: against No.18 from Michigan
The longest game in Big Ten history, Penn State hosted Michigan’s No.18 and ultimately beat the Wolverines 43-40 in quadruple overtime after a touchdown from Bill Belton ended the game.
The game was tied at 34 heading into the initial overtime period, where neither team scored. After exchanging field goals in the second overtime and neither team scored in the third OT, Bill Belton ultimately ended on a transfer from quarterback Christian Hackenberg, scoring the touchdown winner.
After a 42-22 loss at Bloomington to Indiana the previous week, then Penn State coach Bill O’Brien said at the time he was “crazy to expect what it’s just another game, “because the game was both the homecoming game and the White Out for the Nittany Lions.
O’Brien had lost his first White Out the year before when Penn State fell to then No. 9 Ohio State 35-23, but O’Brien left his mark and won his last White Out in walkoff mode.
October 21, 2017: against No.19 from Michigan
Easily Penn State’s most dominant White Out to date, the Nittany Lions beat Michigan 42-13 to lead their season-opening winning streak to seven games.
Ranked No. 2 in the country, a better schedule under James Franklin, Penn State had just had two back-to-back dominant wins over Indiana and Northwestern and the Nittany Lions wasted no time and got off to a very hot start against Michigan.
Star running back Saquon Barkley opened the game with a 69-yard touchdown in under a minute, his first of three touchdowns in total of the day and his first of two rushing touchdowns in four minutes in the first quarter. .
Quarterback Trace McSorley also contributed two rushing touchdowns and added another in the air, pushing Penn State to 7-0 this season, before losing their next two, then winning to end the season. 11-2 with a possible Fiesta Bowl victory over Washington.