Evanston, IL— Northwestern isn’t Penn State, and Ryan Field isn’t Beaver Stadium.
Penn State drew an announced attendance of 110,830 to Beaver Stadium in its White Out win over Iowa at Beaver Stadium last Saturday, Sept. 23.
The next week, Penn State came to Evanston, Illinois to play Northwestern a season-high attendance of 25,064.
Hello. Where is everybody? pic.twitter.com/i5egjiLxhc
— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) September 30, 2023
Northwestern crowd at kickoff. For a Big Ten game.
— Cory Giger (@CoryGiger) September 30, 2023
Not counting the pandemic-themed 2020 season, it was the fewest fans that have watched Penn State play since James Franklin took over as coach in 2014. The next lowest was a crowd of 33,153 that came to see Penn State play at Purdue in 2016, per Mark Brennan of Lions247.
Penn State-Northwestern attendance showing up as 25,064 in the stat broadcast. Smallest crowd (by far) to see PSU play in the Franklin era (not counting the COVID year).
— Mark Brennan (@MarkXBrennan) September 30, 2023
Franklin knew the atmosphere was going to be different, and he admitted that to reporters this week. He revealed that the team put its tradition of blaring Phil Collins’ “in the air tonight” on hold for this week to prepare Northwestern’s environment.
“I think just being honest,” Franklin told reporters at Wednesday’s weekly post-practice media scrum. “Just being very honest about what it’s going to be like. These guys (Northwestern) are 2-0 at home. You look at Northwestern, they’ve typically had good home records. Why? Because it can be challenging to play there. They’re used to the environment. Other people may not be.”
Penn State Coach James Franklin is mocking the dead quiet stadium at Northwestern. They are practicing with no loud music because the atmosphere is awful at Northwestern and players will need to motivate themselves and play for each other because there won't be stadium energy. 🤣 pic.twitter.com/FrOfdBgTeB
— Ben Booth (@TheBenBoothShow) September 29, 2023
After Penn State’s 41-13 win over his team Saturday, Northwestern Interim HC, David Braun, praised Penn State and complimented QB Drew Allar, RBs Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen and its offensive line.
He also reacted to Franklin’s comments.
“Do we know when Penn State returns to Evanston and Ryan Field?” Braun asked reporters during his postgame presser. “I tell you what. I saw a group of (students), maybe not right at 11:00 (the kickoff time), but as the game wore on, I saw a student section that started to show up.”
Braun felt the fans were “energized” and the program is “trending in the right direction.”
He also pointed out that Northwestern is planning a massive renovation to Ryan Field.
“A lot of awesome stuff to get behind,” he said.
It’s unknown when Northwestern will host Penn State again. As of now, it’s not scheduled to happen in 2024 or ‘25, but that could change due to the additions of Oregon and Washington, which were announced after the ‘24 opponents came out.
It’s also unclear if Braun will be the coach when the two teams meet again in Evanston. As of now, he’s still an interim.
But he’s excited for what Penn State’s going to see when that day comes.
“I look forward to inviting coach Franklin and Penn State back into Ryan Field and seeing what type of environment we can create for him next time he’s here.”