With only a few days remaining before arguably the biggest football game thus far in the 2012 season, a record-breaking amount of Nittanyville campers are preparing to welcome Ohio State to the “whiteout” this Saturday.
The attendance numbers in the first few minutes of registration makes this week’s Nittanyville crowd the largest ever. According to Nittanyville president Troy Weller, the final count included 144 tents and 1,200 campers, exceeding the previous record set in 2007 against Notre Dame.
If Penn State (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten) knocks off the No. 9 Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0) in Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. game, the Nittany Lions will lead the Big Ten Leaders Division by themselves. Though the NCAA sanctioned Penn State in July and it is ineligible to win a Big Ten title or play in the postseason, it can still win the Leaders Division crown.
Throughout the week, campers are taking shifts holding their places in line for seats in the front rows of the student section.
“Everyone is so close together, you have to trust each other and make friends,” Amanda Roche (junior-petroleum and natural gas engineering) said. “It brings us all closer.”
Games and activities are set up for campers to enjoy and get involved in.
On Tuesday night, the men’s basketball team held the first annual dunk contest for students camping out. The hoop was lowered to 8 feet to improve the competition. According to the Nittanyville Twitter account, members of the basketball team acted as judges, crowning student Brian Brocker the champion.
Tonight, the third annual Nittanyville Trashcan Football Tournament will be held at 7 p.m. The proceeds from the $20 team registration fee will go to Uplifting Athletes, a non-profit organization that gives money to research rare diseases and pairs patients with collegiate athletes.
Campers are taking advantage of the nice weather this week at Nittanyville, playing pick-up football games, carving pumpkins and studying for classes to pass the time.
Tyler Quinn (mechanical engineering), Logan Roger (advising) and Brian Soltis (IST) are all juniors who have attended Nittanyville for various games since their freshman years, and Saturday’s game is no exception. The trio agrees that the atmosphere is more alive and active this year, with more pride than ever.
“I think the alumni love the fact that we come out and support the team through thick and thin,” Roger said.
Weller says that fans are ready to go.
“I think with everything that has been going on, there are a lot of people who just want to get out here and support this team,” Weller said. “The energy seems to be a lot higher than it has been in the past, and people are really excited to be out here.”
The Lions outscored the Buckeyes in their matchup last season in Columbus, but Penn State has not outscored Ohio State at home since 2005. However, several campers are very optimistic and enthusiastic about the upcoming game, with no hesitation in predicting that Penn State would pull out a close victory.
At his weekly press conference on Tuesday, coach Bill O’Brien lauded the efforts of Nittanyville.
“I'll tell you what, I can't say enough about our student body,” the first-year head coach said. “I've been [to Nittanyville] before, I think it was the Northwestern game, and obviously there's more kids there now.
“I mean that's just what this place is all about.”
Collegian football editor Adam Bittner contributed to this report.