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Penn State Football

Smeltzer: Ranking Every Full-Stadium White Out From Worst to Best

Saturday’s game against Iowa will be Penn State football’s 16th full-stadium White Out.

Penn State’s 9-6 in the first 15, with plenty of ups and downs along the way.

I decided to do something to commemorate this fabulous annual occasion.

I’m going to rank every full-crowd White Out in Beaver Stadium history.

Let’s get into it.

NO. 15: THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT

Iowa 21, PSU 10

2009’s game against Iowa was the perfect recipe for revenge. Iowa had ruined Penn State’s national title hopes on a last-second field goal the year before, marking the only blemish on Penn State’s regular-season schedule. The next season, Penn State had Iowa in Happy Valley. PSU was No. 5, Iowa un-ranked. On Penn State’s first offensive play, Daryll Clark hit Chaz Powell for a 79-yard score, the perfect start. But that’d be the only touchdown Penn State scored all night. Iowa outscored PSU 21-3 the rest of the way, taking the lead on a blocked punt by Adrian Clayborn.

Penn State and its fans are hoping that Saturday’s game won be a repeat.

NO. 14: HAIL TO THE VICTORS

Michigan 28, PSU 16

This was the only noon White Out in Beaver Stadium history, so it already had a strike against it. Penn State took a 10-7 lead with two minutes left in the first half on a 25-yard pass from Christian Hackenberg to Saeed Blacknall. But Michigan re-took the lead by halftime and outscored Penn State 14-6 in the second half. This dropped coach James Franklin to 0-4 combined against Michigan and Ohio State, and many still criticize him for his lack of success against those schools.

NO. 13: 4TH AND 5

Ohio State 27, PSU 26

The wound is still relatively fresh from this one. It looked like Penn State had it in the bag, up 26-14 with less than seven minutes left. But two Ohio State scores in less than five minutes put OSU ahead, and that set up what’s probably the most controversial play call of Franklin’s tenure.

NO. 12: JOE PA’S LAST LOSS

Alabama 27, PSU 11

There’s no shame in losing to Alabama, and Penn State’s done a lot of that throughout its history, trailing the all-time series 10-5. In the most recent meeting, Team Saban put a whooping on Penn State, winning 27-11. The first daytime full-stadium White Out started well for Penn State. The team took a 3-0 lead, but got outscored 27-8 the rest of the way. This is also the last game Penn State lost in Joe Paterno’s tenure. He was fired amid the Jerry Sandusky scandal that November.

NO. 11: BOSA SACKS HACKENBERG

Ohio State 31, PSU 24 (2OT)

Had Penn State won this game, it would be near the top of the list, and it almost happened. PSU fell behind 17-0 and scored 17 unanswered to send the game to overtime. Penn State added seven more in the first overtime period on a 1-yard run by Bill Belton. But Ohio State scored on the ensuing possession to send it into another OT, and then scored in that OT to take the lead. Penn State’s last-chance ended with Joey Bosa sacking Christian Hackenberg.

NO. 10: THE 1ST POST-JOE PA WHITE OUT

Ohio State 35, PSU 23

2012 was a bizarre year for Penn State in general, and the football program especially. For the first time in 46 years, Paterno wasn’t the head coach, so that change was drastic enough. Add that to the fact that the program was trying for a new image after the scandal and fallout from that, which included NCAA sanctions, and 2012 felt like a new world for Penn State. On the field, the team rallied from an 0-2 start to win its next five games, which brought up a clash with Ohio State that felt unexpectedly winnable. The game started well, with Mike Hull’s blocked punt opening the scoring. But it was all Ohio State from there. OSU scored 35 of the next 44 points before Penn State scored netted a meaningless touchdown.

NO. 9: FEELING BLUE

PSU 41, Michigan 31

Penn State came into this matchup 4-3 and ended up finishing 7-6 in 2010. But amid an overall mediocre season, Penn State put together an electric performance against Michigan. PSU led 28-10 at the half, and although Michigan won the second half, it wasn’t enough to come back. Matt McGloin went 17-28 for 250 yards and a touchdown in his first start, and famously called out Kirk Herbstreit afterward.

NO. 8: ‘FREE TO KILL GOPHERS AT WILL’

PSU 45, Minnesota 17

The most recent White Out doesn’t need much refreshing. Penn State pounded Minnesota on its way to Pasadena. It was neat to see a different type of White Out opponent, but most Penn State fans would probably prefer to watch Ohio State or Michigan in that spot.

BTW, this title was a homage to Caddyshack.

NO. 7: ORANGE CRUSHED

Penn State 38, Illinois 24

Another appropriate title for this entry would have been “the Derrick Williams show.” Williams became the only Paterno-era player to catch, rush for and return a kick for a touchdown, putting up 241 all-purpose yards. Collectively, this was another step on Penn State’s road to the Rose Bowl.

NO. 6: The ‘Mo Bamba Game’

PSU 28, Michigan 21

A young Sean Clifford threw two touchdown passes to KJ Hamler and another to Pat Freiermuth and Penn State barely held onto a 21-0 lead to get the win. But this entries best remembered for the first play of the game. Michigan had to call a timeout due to the crowd noise as Sheck Wes’ “Mo Bamba” blasted in the background.

NO. 5: ‘IT FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME’

PSU 31, Notre Dame 10

Yes, a solid Penn State team that finished 9-4 pounded a terrible Notre Dame squad that went 3-9.

But this was the first full-stadium White Out in Penn State history, the game that officially launched what’s become one of the best college football traditions of this millennium.

Oh, and Derrick Williams did this.

 

NO. 4: WE ARE… BACK

PSU 28, Auburn 20

The 2021 season is remembered as a hollow one for Penn State. The team started 5-0 and rose to No. 4 in the country… and ended 7-6. But coming into the Auburn game, the team was 2-0 with all its dreams ahead. It was the first White Out since 2019, with COVID ruining everything in 2020, and Penn State lived up to the electric atmosphere with a dramatic win.

NO. 3: ‘SAQUON BARKLEY… SAY BYE BYE!’

PSU 42, Michigan 13

This night perhaps represents Penn State’s apex in the Franklin era thus far. Penn State was 6-0, ranked No. 2 and Michigan never stood a chance. Once Saquon Barkley ran for a nice 69-yard touchdown on the game’s second offensive play, it was over.

NO. 2: ‘ROBINSON COMES DOWN WITH IT!’

PSU 43, Michigan 40 (4OT)

This White Out had a rare 5:00 kickoff, and rarely has there been a game in Beaver Stadium with more excitement. This was the signature win of Bill O’Brien’s brief two-year tenure as head coach, and this catch by Allen Robinson is one of the signature moments in any era of Penn State football.

NO. 1: ‘SUPER RELIABLE FROM INSIDE OF 40’

PSU 24, Ohio State 21

If you know, you know.

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