History of the White Out

Story posted September 26, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by David Saggio

For Penn State football there is no bigger tradition than the annual whiteout game. One time every season Beaver Stadium is filled to the brim with every fan wearing white. The ensuing sea of white energizes the Nittany Lions while the unfortunate opponent is left with the daunting task of playing in one of the most hostile environments in college football.

The White Out is a well-known event across the college football world, but few know the true history behind it. Originating in the 2004 season, Penn State football was in shambles, enduring losing season after losing season throughout the early 2000’s, a period known as the Dark Years. In 2004, with a 2-3 record on the year, and a matchup with red-hot tenth ranked Purdue, the students sprang into action, declaring a whiteout in anticipation for the Boilermakers. Penn State lost 20-13, and finished the season 4-7, with no chance to go bowling.

Fast forward to October 8, 2005, the Nittany Lions were 5-0 on the year and had a matchup with the sixth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in Beaver stadium. The Buckeyes were led by a fearsome offense that included future Heisman trophy winner Troy Smith along with star receivers Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn Jr. Meanwhile Penn State touted one of its most talented defenses in history, featuring the likes of linebacker Paul Posluszny, cornerback Alan Zemaitis and defensive end Tamba Hali. The ensuing game was one of legend as the Nittany Lions' defense held the vaunted Ohio State offense to only 10 points in a 17-10 win. With all the noise and energy coming from the crowd it was nearly impossible for the Buckeyes to cohesively coordinate their offense. ESPN host Kirk Herbstreit went as far as declaring the Penn State student section “the best in the nation.”

After 2005 the whiteout game continued uninterrupted with the Nittany Lions going 7-7 in whiteout games throughout their history. Whether it be Allen Robinson's insane leaping grab over the Michigan Wolverines, Marcus Allen’s clutch blocked kick to bring down the Buckeyes or Saquon Barkley's electrifying runs, the whiteout will always have a special place in the hearts, minds and memories of all those who call themselves Penn Staters.


David Saggio is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email davesag12@gmail.com.