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Penn State Football: Is #107k Possible for the Blue-White Game?

by on February 23, 2017 10:00 PM

Hey, maybe James Franklin is right.

Maybe Penn State really can draw #107kStrong to the 2017 Blue-White Game.

Now's as good a time as any to look at the gauntlet laid down by Franklin the day after the Rose Bowl.

Today is almost the midpoint between Penn State's last game (53 days since the Rose Bowl against USC) and the next game (57 days until the Blue-White Game against PSU).

And, as we look at things, the idea of a packed Beaver Stadium at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, 2017, may not be that far-fetched.

If so, even an even 100k can't be out the question.

After all, Ohio State did it last spring, when it charged $5 per person to attend the Buckeyes' spring game in Ohio Stadium. Still, Ohio State students were free, as were kids 6 and under. (Zero jokes here about those last two being one and the same.)

The Buckeyes drew a national-record 100,189 fans to that game, bettering its mark of 99,391, set in 2015. While Ohio State charges admission to its annual spring scrimmage, parking is free.

That's not the case, in some cases, when for the first time at Beaver Stadium some parking at the 2017 Blue-White Game will cost cash money. (This is the point where Penn State brass will be happy to remind you that putting on the BW Game costs a cool half-million, so parking is a mere pittance. A good marketing investment by the PSU folks in BJC, I say.)

Nittany Lion season ticket-holders will still park for free for the 2017 spring game, but Penn State says that "fans arriving on game day for the 2017 Blue-White Game who did not have a 2016 season car or RV parking permit" will be charged $20.

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That may keep a few non-regular-season-ticket buying PSU fans away, but on Jan. 3 -- exactly one day after his team fell 52-49 to USC in Pasadena -- Franklin was thinking of a packed Beaver Stadium come spring. Speaking of Rose-colored glasses...

And, you know, maybe CJF is right.

The Nittany Lions are coming off a surprising and superlative 11-3 season and a Big Ten championship. They have a strong Heisman Trophy candidate back in the charismatic Saquon Barley, an offense that averaged 41 Moorpoints over the final 10 games in 2016 and strong 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes that are sure to prime the pump for some Blue-White Game hopefuls.

So, how far-fetched is #107k for the 2017 Blue-White Game?

Over the past two seasons, Penn State has had four regular season games in Beaver Stadium with an announced attendance of over 106,000. In 2016, Ohio State drew 107,280 into Beaver Stadium and Iowa brought in 106,194. In 2015, there was an announced attendance of 107,418 for the Michigan game and 107,387 for Army (tickets sold and donated, but hardly the number in the stadium).

Still, #107k happened.

Just not in the spring.

Under Franklin's direction, the Blue-White Game drew 65,000 in 2016, 68,000 in 2015 and 72,000 in 2014. The all-time attendance record for a Blue-White Game is 76,500 in 2009. A crowd of 107,000 would represent a 39.86% increase in the all-time high. Then again, Penn State's jump in wins from 7 in 2015 to 11 in 2016 represented an increase of 57.14%. So, there's that.

Preliminary weather reports, courtesy of AccuWeather, look promising. AccuWeather is predicting a high of 67 degrees on April 22, with a RealFeel of 69, under mostly sunny skies, and only a 16% chance of precipitation. Historically, April 22 in State College has a high of 67 and a low of 63. The record for that day in Happy Valley is 89 degrees, set in 1985, while April 22, 2016, featured a high of 72 degrees.

Look, you may think the idea of 100,000 of a Blue-White Game is nuts -- let alone, 107,000. And you're right.

But so was a nine-game winning streak by the Nittany Lions after getting trounced 49-10 at The Big House, sans a fleet of starting linebackers and a road to No. 7 that was littered with injured offensive linemen. But then Penn State didn't lose again for 100 days. (Yes, an even 100. I can't make this stuff up.) 

So, maybe, James-Not-Jim ain't nuts, after all.

If you remember, back in the day Penn State averaged over 107,000 fans for four straight regular seasons -- 107,567, 108,917, 108,254 and 107,008, from 2006 to 2009. And they all weren't coming to see Anthony Morelli, either.

Maybe not so coincidentally, during that same run the Nittany Lions drew over 70,000 fans for each of the last three Blue-White Games in that same time period -- 71,000 in 2007, 73,000 in 2008 and that record 76,500 in 2009.

Those numbers are eminently achievable in 2017. More than that? Idk, though CJF says he does.

But if and when Franklin starts tweeting, “BlueWhite, BlueWhite, BlueWhite,” watch out. After the 2016 season, that hokey mantra just might work again.

These days, hope does spring (game) eternal.



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football for StateCollege.com since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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