30
Oct
12

road trip.

Let’s see: I’ve been to games at Purdue. Indiana. Pitt, in buildings old and new. Miami (the one in Ohio). Michigan State. Cleveland Browns Stadium. And two miserable visits to The Big Hole in Ann Arbor.

With the exception of those two visits to AA, I’ve always enjoyed my college football trips.

But I can’t imagine what it would take to have a better trip than the one Mrs. Crappy and I took to State College on Saturday.

Our friends Kelly and John got themselves their first season ticket package at their alma mater earlier this year, and they immediately offered their extra two tickets to the Ohio State game to us. That’s not an offer we would turn down.

The plan: Head out to State College early — early — Saturday morning, see the town, eat, visit a couple tailgate parties, have our own, watch the game and catch some rest at a cheap motel in Altoona before heading home to Pittsburgh.

How’d we do? Here’s a look:

We got out of the car in our parking lot, looked to the south — and there is Beaver Stadium. Let me be clear about this: one of the things I was most excited about was sitting in this building during a white out. It’s always been one of the most impressive — and intimidating; just ask the 2005 Buckeyes who lost during a Beaver Stadium white out — displays of college football fandom I’d ever see on television, and I couldn’t wait to see it in person.

After a quick stop to see one of Kelly’s old professors, we headed to another lot to see Lauren — and The Bus. A friend of Lauren’s bought the old team bus on eBay — the first such retired bus to be sold that way by Penn State — and turned it into a tailgating machine.

They pay attention to every detail.

We were there early enough that the Blue Bus crew was just getting started. But even in the morning, the spread was impressive.

One of the stops on our campus tour was the Millennium Science Complex, a stunning L-shaped set of buildings joined by a triangular cantilevered roof, covering a courtyard. Penn State’s campus is dense and compact, especially for a school of its size, more like OU than Ohio State, but while it doesn’t feel crowded, the courtyard is a beautiful oasis in the middle campus.

The aforementioned courtyard. See?

We walked downtown to look for some Penn State gear — uh, for Kelly and John — and get some lunch at the Corner Room, which had this sign posted outside. The point? Everyone was nice. The entire day, I heard just one muttered shitty comment, from a student who was drunk enough at lunchtime that he was going to be passed out before the game started. Over and over, we were welcomed to Happy Valley by people who seemed genuinely happy we were there. We heard plenty of comments about the upcoming game, but all were good-natured, and once we set up our own tailgate party, we chatted with a guy from Pittsburgh that Kelly had met before a local half marathon. Old college football games, the Browns-Steelers rivalry (back when it was a rivalry) — great stuff to get in the right frame of mind for the game.

We walked back towards the lots, which were filling rapidly. Had some beer, some of the snacks that Mrs. Crappy brought along and an amazing beer-bratwurst-cheese soup Kelly had prepared. I’m hoping she’s going to get together a guest post about that soon, because it was too good not to share (a note — if you had the soup we made for last year’s Michigan game, you’ve had one of Kelly’s recipes. Good stuff, right?)

As we walked around the stadium to our gate we passed the corner where I left a buckeye at the feet of the Joe Paterno statue days after he died in January. I was expecting to see a crowd there; I wasn’t expecting to see a person, in bronze makeup from head to toe, posing as the statue. Very cool.

Inside. Teams are warming up. And the student sections, directly across the field, were already full. The building doesn’t look especially big — I guess I’m used to the concrete on the banks of the Olentangy — but there are a lot of people in there … 107,000-plus on Saturday.

That’s us, with Kelly and John. The fun is about to begin.

Ohio Stadium is loud. And while there may have been games in Columbus that were close — USC in 2009, Michigan in 2002 or 2006, or Penn State in 2002, which I still remember as one of the loudest games I’ve ever attended — I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything as loud as Saturday’s first half in Beaver Stadium.

And being in the middle of a white out is an awesome thing.

We’ll talk about the actual football in another post. Let’s say I was happy to be able to join in the postgame Carmen Ohio when it was over.

We were even close enough to see this.

We had an interesting night at our hotel in Altoona — I can’t say I’d recommend the Econolodge there for pretty much any reason — but we had an awesome breakfast at Tom and Joe’s Diner, a place Kelly found, before heading home.

It was a short trip, and a very long day — we were up at 4 and didn’t get to bed until late — and I wouldn’t change a thing. Kelly and John were great hosts, and I hope they don’t mind if I thank them one more time for a fantastic day. I hope we can return the favor in Columbus next season.

And. State College, you do it right. I hope we’ll be back soon.

I originally referred to the bus as one that took members of Penn State’s marching band to the stadium; Lauren pointed out that the bus was actually used to transport team members to Beaver Stadium. Sorry ’bout that.

 

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2014 schedule

Aug. 30: vs. Navy at Baltimore, noon
Sept. 6: Virginia Tech, 8 p.m.
Sept. 13: Kent State, noon
Sept. 27: Cincinnati, 6 p.m.
Oct. 4: at Maryland
Oct. 18: Rutgers, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: at Penn State, 8 p.m.
Nov. 1: Illinois, 8 p.m.
Nov. 8: at Michigan State, 8 p.m.
Nov. 15: at Minnesota
Nov. 22: Indiana
Nov. 29: Team Up North
Dec. 6: Big Ten Championship

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