COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Imagine wearing our beloved blue and white colors, sticking out in a sea of red and white — not such a pretty picture, is it?
I took a trip to Columbus for the Penn State - Ohio State game on Saturday. Not sure what to expect of the city and the Buckeye fans, I was a little uneasy leaving the comfort of home games in Happy Valley — but I did know I was about to be one of the intruders that I have seen make up a miniscule portion of Beaver Stadium on game days.
How would my weekend with Buckeye fans would differ from what was already so familiar to me in Happy Valley?
My Ohio State friend and I always talk about the comparisons of our schools — both in the Big Ten and large schools. I saw Ohio State as the Penn State of Ohio.
The schools are common in numbers — both having one of the largest football stadiums in the United States, school populations in the 40,000s and 50,000s, and an enormous amount of school pride.
To me, the feel of Columbus is comparable to Pittsburgh with old-school style city houses, but a much larger population and a multitude of skyscrapers. I stayed in a sorority house off the Ohio State campus, an idea still fresh to Penn State with the addition of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority house this past year.
Ohio State’s sororities and fraternities live together on the fraternity rows in the University District of Columbus. The school’s campus is pretty separated from the rest of the city, only featuring the Ohio Stadium, food options and mostly student living.
The Ohio State fans surprised me by not giving too much slander. In all the locations I went to, I was only one of a handful of Penn State fans. I would get excited when I saw Penn State white clothing as I knew there was someone to talk to with a sort of automatic bond.
The handful of Penn State fans were somewhat reflected in the stadium — instead of 100,000 blue and white shirts, Penn State was only able to fit their fans in a few small visiting sections. I wasn’t able to go inside the game, but I could imagine the Ohio State crowd was just as intimidating as Beaver Stadium feels for a visiting team at Penn State.
Overall, the Penn State slander I experienced was repetitive, and expected. No Ohio State student came at me with vicious words, but most commonly “F*** Penn State,” “Go Bucks,” “Joe Pa knew,” and more standard chants in that realm.
There was also a point where the crowd replaced the “We Are Penn State” chant with “F*** Penn State,” in which I proceeded to proudly sing the “We Are Penn State” I know and love.
On the rainy game day, I was walking with a few friends to “block,” which is Ohio State’s own unique version of tailgating. Walking up a slippery hill, I slipped and fell. An Ohio State fan caught me, and the only thing he said was “go bucks,” after seeing my Penn State shirt.
I was honestly a little surprised he didn’t drop me at that point, but appreciated the catch.
Everyone I met at the school pretty much lived in Ohio, but my friend said she meets more people from New Jersey than Pennsylvania despite its closer location.
While I did not go into the game, I was still able to hear and see many of their game day traditions. Every large school has pride like none other — Penn State has the “We Are Penn State” chants, Nittany Lions and notorious game day environment. Ohio State also has their own custom chants, Brutus the Buckeye and the backing of the whole state and city, as Ohio State is the primary university for the state.
Ohio State is a big bar school — while Penn State’s grassy tailgate fields fill up with hundreds of thousands on game day, Ohio State fans dispersed throughout many different areas. Students go to “block” held at fraternities, bars and have minimal tailgate fields outside of the stadium, where only families go before the game.
I think Ohio State fans reacted to the Penn State fans invading their turf exactly how a Penn State crowd would. Both schools have the utmost passion for their schools and playful arguing is expected, and both schools surely can take it too far — I wasn’t surprised to hear of a few Penn State and Ohio State fan fights this weekend.
Ohio State did have the upper hand Saturday after Penn State’s loss — but this didn’t change my Penn State pride, something I’m sure Ohio State fans can relate to.