BT game day traditions: Penn State

There's a reason why Penn State fans are a bit miffed by the Big Ten's policy that prohibits November night games. Night football at Beaver Stadium, particularly for a whiteout/whitehouse, is one of the greatest atmospheres in college football. In reality, football at any time of the day or night is pretty special in Happy Valley.

Penn State fans had the strongest response to my request for game-day traditions. Nittany Nation is extremely proud of what takes place on fall Saturdays in State College, and they deserve to be. I've never seen a more cohesive student section than the one at Beaver Stadium.

Here are several of the numerous game-day traditions at Penn State:

  • The whiteout/white house: Fans are asked to wear white for a big game, usually for a night contest against a name opponent. The result is one of the coolest crowd visuals you'll ever see.

  • We are ... Penn State cheer: It's one of the most recognizable cheers in all of college football, as one group of fans (usually students) yells "We are!" and gets answered with "Penn State!"

  • Zombie Nation: There aren't many earthquakes in central Pennsylvania, but the stadium shakes every time Zombie Nation comes on the loud speakers. Fans even incorporate the "We are ... Penn State" chant into it.

  • Other Beaver Stadium songs: Penn State's in-game entertainment is second to none, and fans go nuts as songs like "Don't Stop Believin'," "Sweet Caroline," "Hey, Baby" and "Livin' on a Prayer" are piped into the stadium.

  • Tailgreat: The Penn State marching band holds its final rehearsal several hours before kickoff, marching from its building to the Bryce Jordan Center. The cheerleaders, dance team and Penn State notables attend the performance.

  • Paternoville: Students set up tents and camp out next to Gate A so they can secure prime seats in the student section for games. Head coach Joe Paterno, assistants and players usually stop by throughout game weeks. Students will camp out the entire week before big games.

  • Drum-major flip: Since 1971, drum majors for the Blue Band have done flips at games. The two front flips take place during the band's pregame performance and delight the crowd.

  • Nittany Lion crowd surf: Penn State's Lion mascot surfs through the student section toward the top of the stadium.

  • S-zone student section: The seniors' area of the student section forms a giant 'S' that can be seen around the stadium and looks great on TV.

  • Victory Bell: The bell, which returned to Beaver Stadium in 2009 after a 20-year absence, is sounded after Penn State victories. Former coach Rip Engle first brought in the bell as a way for students to welcome back football players after away games.


Mike from State College, Pa.: As part of the game day at Penn State, I think some great traditions are obviously the We Are...Penn State cheer and whenever they play notable songs like "Don't Stop Believin'" or "Livin' on a Prayer" or "Sweet Caroline" the whole stadium sings along and it really is amazing. Also the basket tosses, where the student section usually gets into groups and tosses a person in the air for how many total points we have in the game. the White Out and White House are of course great too. TailGREAT in the Bryce Jordan Center is really cool too. As is when the football players arrive on the signature blue busses and walk through the crowd into the stadium. There also is the "We want the lion" cheer where sections of students will call for the Nittany Lion and whichever section gets it will pass him up from the field to the top of the stadium on his back.

Mike from Bethlehem, Pa., writes: Adam! Your blog gets me through my day at work. Thanks for the diligence in Big10 reporting. As far as game days go, Penn State has easily the best atmosphere in the Big10, and the country for that matter. I've attended game day at Wisconsin, U of M, and OSU, none matching the excitement that surrounds Beaver Stadium on a Saturday. Perfect example: the Iowa at PSU game in the Fall of 09, it didn't matter how much rain was going to fall that day. As far as you could see there were people tailgating from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., it's what Penn State is all about! Nothing fancy, just good ol' fashion tailgating with fellow fans and a lot of opponents fans.During the game, Zombie Nation and the Whiteout. Guido D'Elia (our director of communications and branding) started Zombie Nation at Penn State and it has taken over the country! Beaver Stadium's steel frame literally bends when the crowd jumps. The Whiteout was started at Penn State (as far as college sports go) and how cool is that?! Penn State IS tradition, not only on the field, but off of it with the enourmous fan following and passionate spectators.

Jim from Kutztown, Pa.: Penn State's pregame intro with the Blue Band should be atop your Big10 traditions list. The drum major landing two flips, Floating Lions, and then when the team comes out, Let's Go P-S-U! Not to mention the thunderous roar of 110,000 during a "We are..." chant.

Greg from Washington, D.C.: Hey Adam, this is a list of some of my favorite football traditions at Penn State...there are a lot so I'll make them short and sweet. 1."We Are...Penn State" chant 2. Drum Major flip(s) 3. Nittany Lion Crowd surf through the student section 4. The "Rock and Roll" as the players come out o f the tunnel 5. The Cowbell P-S-U chant 6. Zombie Nation "Bounce" 7. Nittany Lion pre-game crowd pump up 8. Singing "Hey Baby" 9. Student section crowd push ups after scoring 10. Post-game bell ringing