UNIVERSITY PARK — On a scale of 1 to 10, sophomore William Simons said his excitement level for Penn State’s game against Ohio State today is a 30.
Simons and hundreds of others donned white shirts and made their way to Rec Hall on Friday for Rally in the Valley to prepare fans for the Big Ten clash with performances by the Lionettes and Blue Band and appearances by the football team and head coach Bill O’Brien.
“If the stadium’s not filled tomorrow I’d be utterly shocked,” Simons said, adding that this is the most excited he’s ever been for a Penn State game.
O’Brien was introduced by Penn State men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers, who entered Rec Hall in his golf cart, wearing a Michael Mauti jersey, helmet and all.
“This team is expecting to go out there tomorrow night and play well and play their best and they’re expecting you to be out there at your best the whole night, loud and proud,” the first-year head football coach said.
Season ticket holder Zack Dixon said “it doesn’t get much better” than playing an undefeated Ohio State team at home, and said the atmosphere in Beaver Stadium will be “through the roof.”
Dixon said that because Penn State can’t go to the Big Ten championship game or a bowl game, due to NCAA sanctions following the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, this game will be the biggest of the season.
“If we can get a win I think it would be just as good as a bowl win,” he said.
Junior Burges Unwalla said the combination of the night game, the Penn State-Ohio State rivalry, the “whiteout,” and first place in the Leaders Division on the line, this will be the biggest game he’s ever attended.
“The atmosphere will definitely be electric,” he said. “It has that bowl game feel.”
He added that it is comparable to the Alabama game last season, when the eventual national champion came to Beaver Stadium. Simons said that the team has exceeded expectations this season and any fan would have to commend the players for staying with the program and “playing their hearts out.”
He will lend his voice to the likely more than 100,000 others tonight to cheer on the team.
“This (game) is definitely the one I’m most excited for,” he said. “I love everything about this school.”
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.