Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Penn State game

One of the highlights of my recently completed vacation was a trip to State College, PA to see my Huskers play the Penn State Nittany Lions.  I've always wanted to go to a game in State College, but it is incredibly hard to do.  State College is in the middle of nowhere.  Actually, it is about two hours away from the middle of nowhere.  It's a four hour drive from DC and after hanging out with some of Sara's friends, we didn't leave DC until after 10.  We pulled into town and found the house where we were renting an apartment and were immediately greeted by this.  Clearly, we were in enemy territory.

The next morning, we went out to eat breakfast at a popular place called, "The Original Waffle Shop."  Once again, practically everything and everyone was covered in navy blue and white.  I've been to a number of Nebraska away games and I have never seen so little red.  All of the Penn State fans were beyond friendly and courteous.  After brunch, we walked down to the tailgating area and sought out friendly faces.
We wandered around and found a few Husker tailgates, but the highlight of tailgating (and perhaps the highlight of the whole damn trip) was witnessing my very first game of "Stump."  Stump is a ridiculous and ridiculously awesome game.  All the players stand around a sawed off tree stump, passing around a hammer.  On his turn, the player tosses the hammer in the air, catches it, and attempts to hammer one of his opponents nails.  More tosses are awarded if the player tosses the hammer under his leg (2) or behind his back (3).  A player loses when his nail is hammered all the way into the stump.  Mysteriously, there are no drinking penalties involved.  It's not a drinking game.  What astounds me about this non-drinking game is how much preparation it requires.  Most drinking games involve some solo cups, a table, a deck of cards or perhaps some ping pong balls.  This game requires (a) a tree stump, (b) a hammer, and (c) numerous nails.  Seriously, this is why I love America.  (Also, the guy tossing the hammer in the picture was wearing a Penn State honors college sweatshirt.)  I miss college.

The game was freezing cold.  We never warmed up the entire game.  It snowed off and on.  The game itself was a back and forth affair, with Nebraska prevailing in overtime.  My favorite part of the game came in the third quarter.  Penn State scored a TD following a Nebraska fumble to take the lead.  As the television broadcast went into commercial, the snow picked up and began to swirl around the stadium.  They began to play Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" and the raucous crowd sang along and shook the stadium.  The snow continued to swirl, the crowd chanted the final, "Bah, bah, bah" and Penn State kicked off to Kenny Bell standing on the 1- yard line.  Kenny Bell, Sara and my favorite player, then proceeded to run the kick off back 99 yards, hurdling the kicker and silencing the crowd.  The snow stopped.  The magic was over.  But those were a fun three minutes.

After the game, we walked downtown to do a bit of bar hopping.  I, however, was still a bit jet lagged and kept nodding off into my beer.  Sadly, I had no second wind, no rally within me.  We called it an early night and took a cab back (best $6 I've ever spent to not walk back in that cold).  The next day, we woke up late and went for lunch downtown, before driving out of the middle of nowhere and back into civilization.

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