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Why Penn State’s ‘White Out’ tradition vs. Ohio State got wiped out by COVID-19 in 2020

Why Penn State's 'White Out' tradition vs. Ohio State got wiped out by COVID-19 in 2020

College football will be without one of its greatest spectacles this week — Penn State’s vaunted “White Out” — when the 18th-ranked Nittany Lions host No. 3 Ohio State in Beaver Stadium.

This game has been reserved as the school’s “White Out” game every time the Buckeyes have come to visit: every even year dating back to 2012. But several factors, all stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, have made it impossible to replicate the size, scope or pageantry of the event.

That will make Penn State’s upset bid against Ohio State that much tougher, but the school does plan to implement some tools to recreate one of the best atmospheres in the sport.

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s “White Out” — or lack thereof:

MORE: Ohio State vs. Penn State odds, prediction, betting trends

Why is there no ‘White Out’ for Penn State vs. Ohio State?

Put simply, there will be no “White Out” for the Penn State-Ohio State game on Saturday because there won’t be enough fans at Beaver Stadium.

Sandy Barbour, Penn State’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics, relayed the decision to limit fan attendance at Big Ten stadiums during a Sept. 16 conference call with commissioner Kevin Warren. The decision, which prohibits the sale of tickets to the general public, was made with the intent of limiting the potential spread of COVID-19.

“From the standpoint of what the resolution that the (Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors)approved, we are not going to permit fans in general — sale of tickets. We are looking to see what we can do on a campus-by-campus basis, to accommodate the families of our student-athletes, both home and away, as well as the families of staffs. But as a conference, we’ve made a decision: no public sale of tickets.

Before the Big Ten voted on Aug. 11 to postpone its season, Penn State planned to allow 23,275 football fans in Beaver Stadium — roughly 22 percent capacity — with distancing pods and forced spacing. The plan also intended to utilize touchless credit card machines and 1,000 extra hand-sanitizer stations as well as new parking zones.

Even after the state of Pennsylvania loosened its restrictions on outdoor gatherings — from a maximum of 250 people to 15 percent capacity for venues of 10,000 seats or more — Penn State will not be allowed to have more than the family members of players and staff per the Big Ten’s September mandate.

What will Penn State vs. Ohio State look like?

Each of Penn State’s last three “White Outs” have had more than 110,000 fans in attendance; that number will be vastly reduced on Saturday, with only a few hundred fans (at most) in attendance.

That said, the Nittany Lions will try to replicate as close to a regular game day experience as possible. Per a Thursday report from Sports Illustrated, Beaver Stadium will include:

  • Penn State Blue Band virtual pregame show
  • Zombie Nation (played during team’s entrance)
  • Playlist of crowd reactions, favorite game songs

Penn State ‘White Out’ record vs. Ohio State

The Nittany Lions have a losing record against the Buckeyes on Ohio State, but the scores clearly indicate the large crowd has had a significant effect on the visiting team.

Penn State is 2-3 in “White Out” games vs. Ohio State, but have lost those three matches by an average of 6.7 points per game. That includes a 31-24 double-overtime loss in 2014 and a 12-point fourth-quarter comeback by Ohio State in 2018. Below is the full “White Out” record for Penn State-Ohio State:

Year Matchup Result
2005 No. 16 Penn State vs. No. 6 Ohio State Penn State 17, Ohio State 10
2012 Penn State vs. No. 9 Ohio State Ohio State 35, Penn State 23
2014 Penn State vs. No. 13 Ohio State Ohio State 31, Penn State 24
2016 Penn State vs. No. 2 Ohio State Penn State 24, Ohio State 21
2018 No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 4 Ohio State Ohio State 27, Penn State 26

Penn State’s overall record in “White Out” games is 8-8.

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Evan Lewis

With a knack for storytelling, Evan started News Brig about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports,, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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