STATE COLLEGE – For the first time in nearly two years, fans will pour inside of Beaver Stadium for No. 11 Penn State’s home opener against Ball State from the Mid-American Conference.
Earlier this summer, Penn State (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) officials announced a return to full-capacity crowds at athletic events.
On Tuesday, Penn State Deputy director of athletics Scott Sidwell said only four thousand tickets remained available for Saturday’s home opener, and they were going quickly.
“It’s huge to me being that it’s my senior year,” Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson said on Wednesday of the return of fans to Beaver Stadium. “One of the best fan bases in the country. It’s a major opportunity for me, for my teammates who haven’t experienced that. I can’t wait.”
While Dotson and Penn State’s other older players have competed in front of fans inside of the 107,000-seat Beaver Stadium, the experience will be a first for Penn State freshmen, redshirt freshmen and transfers.
Penn State during fall camp had a couple of scrimmages inside of Beaver Stadium with the hopes of giving players a feel of the experience.
Last week’s season-opener at Wisconsin gave new players a taste of what to expect from a game-day experience, but eighth-year Penn State coach James Franklin said playing at home brings some challenges.
He mentioned ticket requests from friends and family and lodging recommendations as to things players and coaches are presented with during home weekends.
“When you’re at home, there are just more of those things on their plate,” Franklin said this week. “We have a higher percentage of friends and families in town, and if you’re not careful as a young player, those things can be a distraction.”
In highlighting just how new the experience will be for Penn State’s younger players and transfers, Franklin on Wednesday shared part of a conversation he recently had with a Nittany Lions player.
“One of the guys was just asking me about the pregame music, and I’m like, ‘That’s not on my responsibilities,” Franklin said with a laugh.
Somewhat lost in this week’s pregame buildup is that Saturday’s Ball State (1-0) matchup will also mark the first time five Penn State assistants will coach before a full-capacity home crowd.
Since January 2020, the Nittany Lions have added Phil Trautwein (offensive line), Taylor Stubblefield (wide receivers), John Scott Jr. (defensive line), Anthony Poindexter (safeties, co-defensive coordinator) and Mike Yurcich (offensive coordinator to the staff.
Penn State’s new players aren’t the only Nittany Lions looking forward to Saturday.
“I’m like the rookies, I have no idea what to expect how it works out, getting off the bus and walking through the tunnel and all that kind of stuff,” Scott said. “I’m excited. When I took this job, that’s all people talked about, ‘Man, you’re going to feel the game-day environment. You’re going to feel the crowd. You’re going to feel State College.”
Penn State has dubbed this Saturday’s game as its 107K Family Reunion, a nod to the much-anticipated gathering, but the reunion isn’t only for the fans
Penn State players will finally experience the full magnitude of Beaver Stadium after a nearly two-year hiatus.
“I’ve been waiting all year for our fans to get back out there,” Dotson said.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1).
Ball State at No. 11 Penn State
When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Beaver Stadium
Last meeting/series history: This is the first meeting between the programs
TV/radio/: FOX SPORTS 1; WKOK 1070AM
No. 11 PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Penn State will not release depth charts this season.
BALL STATE (1-0, 0-0 Mid-American Conference)
Ball State has not released a depth chart this week.