Tailgating in College Park, MD: Friday, September 27, 2019
Harold Ramis could have not written the script any better. Ramis, who wrote and produced the acclaimed movie “Groundhog Day” would have the theme of the #BlackOut football game between Penn State and the University of Maryland well before kickoff. Its premise would be the same. A lopsided defeat by an apparent superior team from Pennsylvania. Something must change.
For us Terp fans in the parking lots and stands on last Friday evening it was deja vu all over again.
No matter how we all try to change the script it always turns out the same. This border state match heavily favors Penn State as they have won 43 of the last 46 games between the two teams. This time loop continues.
The hype for this game started building prior to the beginning of the season. The B1G Ten had designated, the Penn State – Maryland matchup to be played as their Friday night game of the week. The date, September 27, 2019, will be repeated long in the lore that follows these two teams. Never mind that Penn State has flatly refused the B1G Ten’s requests to home host a Friday night game but will gladly play anywhere but in Pennsylvania on a Friday night. Thus the script is written. Friday night football in Pennsylvania is saved for high schools only.
The national broadcast on FS1 (Fox) had to be a snooze. What could they (B1G & Fox) have done better? Show “Groundhog Day”?
Prior to kickoff the University of Maryland bit hard on the hype up for this #BlackOut game. Student ticket accommodations surpassed the 10,000 mark to the point that additional stands were added to the stadium.
Sell out fever struck based on Maryland’s early-season success against Howard and Syracuse. The Temple game two weeks prior was but an early season aberration. A big-money payday lit up in the eyes of Maryland’s administration.
Friday afternoon classes were cancelled early or not scheduled at all. Room in the parking lots would be by 3 p.m. game day designated for paying ticket holders and season ticket holders. We’ve got to make room for 53,228 fans. Traffic control helicopter and state police would monitor crowd control. Madness.
The DMV holds a unique biographic metric unlike anywhere else in the B1G, sans maybe Chicago, IL. Ask any local high school counselor or guidance officer charged with processing college applications what they think of both these schools.
They will tell you that in state (Maryland) Penn State runs 2nd or 3rd to Maryland in the amount of wishful senior applicants for college admissions. Many chose PSU over the UMD where the entrance competition is tough.
In other words, friends and neighbors across the DMV share allegiance to either of these schools. Add in the attraction of a professional working environment of the DC area and you have many alumni that shun working in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia to live, work and play here.
So the scene is set for our groundhog day story.
Full parking lots with tailgating alumni and students, food, drink all in a friendly atmosphere within close walking distance to the stadium.
I read somewhere a quote from a Penn State fan who asked “where is the other half of the stadium”? You see Beaver Stadium holds 106,572 on sell outs. Oops, not a good first sign. There would be others – that would spell out the cinematic day.
For the most part the tailgates were of mixed patronage of friends, neighbors and students. But then you drift down to the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center tailgate area adjacent to Capital One Stadium only to find that the PSU Alumni had rented out its complete interior. Maryland alumni were given the nearby garden walk area. Opps, not a good sign. Why not allow the PSU Alumni tailgate to only rent the dining hall near Knox Road?
Heading down to my reserved seats in Section 23, I notice that white clad PSU fans had all 19 season ticket seats previously held by a few Maryland alumni. You see, those seats/tickets laid vacant for most of the last two years when the alumni who held the seats refused to pay Maryland’s revised Terrapin Club dues structure to hold those seats. Oops, not a good sign, but an expected one.
The #BlackOut’ed student endzone is filled to the brim with 13,000 who in unison taunted the PSU team practicing before them. Maybe it is not the smartest thing to do. Why not just ignore them – maybe they will find no inspiration to run the ball into that endzone.
Game starts, Maryland receives but coughs up the ball on an interception and two plays later PSU scores in front of the student filled endzone. It’s 7-0 by the second minute and PSU will score again at the 9:36 mark after a 58 yard PSU pass it’s now 14-0. Oops, this now feels like deja vu. By the start of the 2nd quarter I decided to head down to the field to document the pumped up atmosphere before it changed.
Students and fan sections on both sides were full. Maryland recruits with their parents and/or coaches occupy Section 28 nearest the end of the horseshoe stadium. I suspect that many were from local school systems that did not play under the #FridayNightLights unlike Montgomery County does. One could only wonder what they thought of the game.
By halftime when I returned to my Section 23 seats it was 38-0 PSU. Oops not a good sign.
The white-clad PSU fans stood out as the game progressed as the student section abandoned the stadium to find other Friday night entertainment. A Harold Ramis movie perhaps?
There was no traffic helicopter overhead, nor legions of state and county police to control the parking lot or road traffic for those that exited during what remained of this game.
Lights out, #BlackOut, PSU 59 UMD 0.
It was a groundhog day deja vu time loop, again.
Photos to follow.
All photographs copyrighted 2019 © Phil Fabrizio | PhotoLoaf® for MCM,