White Out experience at Penn State's Beaver Stadium leaves lasting impression on players
UNIVERSITY PARK — Koa Farmer’s father, Jamal, has never witnessed a White Out game in-person.
That’ll change this weekend, though, when the Nittany Lion linebacker’s dad makes his way cross-country from California to check out the highly anticipated match-up between No. 2 Penn State and No. 19 Michigan.
But before he does, Jamal quizzed Koa on what to expect.
“He honestly asked me, ‘Dude, what can you tell me about the White Out?’ I was like, “Dude, you just have to come,’” Farmer said with a chuckle on a Tuesday morning conference call. “That’s the first thing I can really say because you can’t really explain it.”
That’s the sentiment among all the Nittany Lions: It’s impossible to describe a White Out atmosphere. Anyone unfamiliar just has to see and experience it for himself.
“I always tell people, because my friends always ask what’s the game to come to, and I tell ’em the White Out,” Farmer added. “You just have to come. It’s something special.”
Farmer’s teammate, cornerback Amani Oruwariye, agreed.
Oruwariye, a redshirt junior, got his first taste of the White Out back in 2014 when the Nittany Lions hosted No. 13 Ohio State. The Buckeyes, who went on to win the national championship, needed double-overtime to hold off Penn State. The crowd was raucous that night, as a couple of blown calls damaged Penn State’s chances at an upset.
But Oruwariye doesn’t remember the misfortune. The redshirt corner wasn’t going to play, but recalled standing on the sideline, “looking around and seeing the sea of white.”
“That was the loudest I ever heard it. I was just in awe,” Oruwariye said. “It’s lived up to the hype each year after that.”
Penn State center Connor McGovern was also standing along the field for that Penn State-Ohio State White Out game. But he wasn’t a Nittany Lion — at least, not yet.
McGovern was a junior at Lake-Lehman High School in Luzerne County. The four-star prospect eventually picked up an offer from the Nittany Lions a few weeks after that game — but Miami (Fla.), Pittsburgh, Maryland, Michigan State and more schools wanted him, too.
McGovern chose Penn State over those programs for more than one reason, but the White Out left its mark.
“That blew me away,” the Nittany Lions’ starting center said. “Before that, I wasn’t a Penn State fan and didn’t think about them too much. That changed my mind. That’s one of the reasons why I chose this place. It’s the enthusiasm the fans have and how much people care about football here.”
“If you’re a college football fan, you have to experience at least one White Out in your life.”
Of course, there’ll be plenty of Penn State fans in attendance Saturday. Every seat in Beaver Stadium — which can hold around 110,000 — will be filled. The cheapest single ticket on StubHub is going for $220. And that’s before any add-on fees.
Harbaugh knows what to expect: Saturday’s going to be nutty. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh — who coached in a White Out two years ago — fully expects that, too. When asked about possibly simulating the countless decibels during the week of preparation, the coach jokingly said on his weekly Big Ten teleconference, “Try to make loud noise during practice.”
No speaker system will do Beaver Stadium justice, though. Not even a fiery Harbaugh blow up at practice can simulate the insane nature of a White Out in Happy Valley.
Ask Farmer, McGovern or Oruwariye. They’ll offer first-hand affirmations.
Or turn to Penn State coach James Franklin, who is “jacked” for Saturday.
“I think people realize the only thing I like more than Christmas is a White Out football game,” Franklin said. “The environment is special. I think Beaver Stadium on a normal game day is a top-5 atmosphere. I think a White Out game day is something I think you don’t really understand unless you can come experience it for yourself.”