SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
10/27/2007 08:02:00 PM
Saturday Observations, Part III: 'The Scene'
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Ladies and gentlemen, I simply have to share with you the scene I’m witnessing here.
I’ve been in my share of loud stadiums (Florida, LSU), I’ve seen my share of pageantry (Notre Dame, Ohio State) and beautiful backdrops (Air Force). I can honestly say I’ve never experienced as much electricity in a stadium as I have these last few moments before kickoff of tonight’s Ohio State-Penn State game.
The “White Out”-ed student section was full nearly an hour before kickoff, the entire 107,000 in place by 7:45. With “The Pennsylvania State University” awning facing me and miles and miles of cars and RVs out the window behind me, with flashbulbs popping everywhere and some well-chosen tunes (from Living on A Prayer to Don’t Stop Believing -- did JoePa really approve this playlist?) pumping up the crowd, the anticipation just keeps building and building.
The scoreboard to my left currently scrawls: “Welcome to the Greatest Show in College Football,” as a Penn State highlight reel plays on the video board. And meanwhile, I’m enjoying a cup of ice cream straight from the famous Penn State Creamery here in the press box.
Now, the Nittany Lion mascot is standing at midfield leading alternating cheers from each section as the band begins to march on the field. I can’t even imagine what’s going to happen when actual players run on to the field.
So that’s the scene here in Happy Valley as Paterno’s team gets ready for its second-ever home game against a No. 1 team. Three-and-a-half hours from now, the Buckeyes are either going to head back to Columbus having endured one heck of a road test -- or having suffered their first blemish.
If Ohio State pulls this off, they are the undisputed Number 1 team; the atmosphere would shake almost any team. If Penn State wins, they have their signature win, and they give Joe Pa and co. many more years of life on the Penn State sideline.
Stewart, you should have opted for Door No. 3. Severely tested? No. First blemish? No. Why don't you stop wishing for an OSU loss, watch and learn. This is a good team, I don't care what conference its in.