Sports

Penn State vs. Ohio State: Don't Sleep on the Importance of this Game

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This is the week that Bill O’Brien has been talking about for 10 months.

How many times since O’Brien took the job have we heard him say that home games at Penn State are bigger than bowl games?

There are 1,500 students sleeping out – for FIVE DAYS – to get the best seats in the student section for Saturday night’s showdown with undefeated Ohio State.

Were you more excited for the Ticket City Bowl than you are for Saturday night?

Of course not.

There have been a lot of big games at Penn State over the years and this week feels as big as all of them.

Mark Emmert – and many across the country – wanted this program decimated. They thought there would be never be a game like this in Happy Valley again – or at least any time soon. Emmert and everybody else were all wrong.

A lot of coaches tell recruits a lot of things. There will be a ton of recruits at Beaver Stadium Saturday night. They will see the atmosphere for themselves. It will be nuts.

O’Brien’s told them all that playing games in Beaver Stadium is better than playing in a half empty stadium somewhere in Florida or Texas. It will be hard to argue with that after taking in the scene Saturday night.

Let’s not forget that all of these current Penn State players will also be subjected to more Tim Beckman and more recruiting as soon as the season is over.

You think Saturday night will go a ways in helping them all solidify their decision to stay?

Absolutely.

“This is without a doubt the best college football environment in the country,” O’Brien reiterated Tuesday in his weekly press conference. “There’s absolutely no doubt about it. I’m very biased. But having been here now for a certain amount of home games and watching that student body and listening to our fans and knowing there’s 108,000 people going to be here Saturday night, I mean, this place is going to be loud. And everybody’s going to be wearing white.

“And our team just wants them to show up early, be in there for warm-ups. It really gets our guys jazzed up when they’re in there for warm-ups. Our guys, they love that.

“I would definitely say these guys have earned the right to play in this type of game. They’ve put the time in. They’ve been through a lot. They’ve done it. Everything we’ve asked them to do, they’ve done.

“Be on time. Practice hard. Lift hard. Run hard. Compete. They’ve done it. And so they’ve definitely earned the right to play in this type of game in front of 108,000 fans. And I think our fans will be very, very supportive of our team Saturday night.”

They most definitely will.

These fans – this student body – love this football team. They love this group of players for staying and for loving Penn State.

They have been trying to show that to this team and to the country since July. From thousands showing up at 6 a.m. for a summer workout to this Saturday night, this fan base wants this team and the country to know that they have always loved Penn State and still love Penn State.

Ohio State. ESPN. White out. Night game.

Bill O’Brien was correct. That’s way better than an average bowl game.

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