Welcome back to our series called 99 Things. As a reminder, this is not a list of how I would rank each item. Today’s topic is going to focus on one of the best traditions in all of college football. Penn State’s Whiteout has become one of the most electric atmospheres in college football. Typically once a year Penn State will select a game to be anointed the White Out game. This has commonly been Ohio State and Michigan but has included nonconference opponents and other Big Ten teams. The game is usually played at 3:30PM or 8:00PM to help build an incredible atmosphere for fans and players.
The history of the White Out began in 2004. Penn State was struggling through their season and the athletic department was looking for ways to increase attendance. The first “White Out” game was actually against Purdue. Penn State would lose to the Boilermakers by a score of 20-13. Penn State’s athletic department would attempt the White Out two more times in 2004. The first one against Iowa in the infamous 6-4 game and again in the season finale against Michigan State where the Nittany Lions would win 37-13.
The White Out would gain popularity in 2005 when Penn State would upset #6 Ohio State 17-10. Tamba Hali forced a fumble late in the fourth quarter to secure the victory for Penn State. Future Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Troy Smith, was affected by the noise and had to had to call a timeout so he could effectively communicate with his teammates. Following this game the White Out continued as a yearly tradition.
We have all seen various clips of the White Out. The pictures and the scenery are incredible. Michigan actually called a timeout on the first play of the game in 2019 because the stadium was absurdly loud. When Penn State hosted Auburn last year an acoustic team measured the sound pressure level at 122 decibels. Over 120 decibels is the same level of sound as a military jet taking off from an air craft carrier, so it is very loud. Opposing teams commonly have to game plan for the noise as they struggle to communicate changes when on the field. Teams will practice indoors and blast their speakers in an attempt to mimic the noise level.
I have personally been to four white outs in my lifetime. 2009 vs Iowa, 2014 vs Ohio State, 2016 vs Ohio State and 2018 vs Ohio State. Penn State is 1-3 when I attend the White Out. I am accepting bribes to not visit Happy Valley if Ohio State is the opponent for the White Out in 2022. Buy stuff from our store and maybe I will consider skipping my usual tradition of attending the White Out this year.
One current rumor about this year’s White Out is the potential for a Big Noon Kickoff for the White Out. Penn State has a fairly weak home slate. The Ohio State game is expected to be an earlier kickoff because Fox also has the World Series the same weekend. The other options for Penn State would be Minnesota, Maryland, Michigan State or Northwestern. Could we possibly see a White Out at Noon and how would the time affect the overall atmosphere? One reason the atmosphere is so great is because everyone has been drinking all day. I have no doubt the college kids would still be loaded before the game but noon games tend to have a less intense vibe.
No matter who you are a fan of, attending a White Out at Penn State should be on your college football bucket list. You can argue which school or stadium is the loudest and has the best atmosphere but you cannot truly have a say until you visit Penn State. It is one of a kind and hard to put into words until you experience it for yourself.