My dad and I made the trip to Happy Valley on Saturday. After what I had read here on 11W, I was a bit trepidatious. I had read many horror stories about poor treatment of our fans by theirs. So I wasn't sure what to expect. I was worried enough that I roleplayed how to deal with belligerent fans with my dad during the long car ride there.
So we got there. We drove through a sea of folks in white. A few times we had to stop people to ask directions. Even though we were in our OSU reds (and even though my silver car is covered in buckeye leaf stickers), everyone who we stopped to ask for directions was helpful. Then we parked, got out of the car, and joined the throng headed toward the stadium. One female fan looked at my Ohio State garb and said, "Boo!" I just pretended she was getting into the Halloween spirit. :-)
We made our way into the stadium and found our seats. Our seats were close to field in the north endzone. We were right in the front row, but that meant that a lot of people had to walk in front of us to get to their seats. A number of people who walked by shook our hands and wished us good luck. At one point during the game, the guy in the creepy Nittany Lion mascot outfit came by. I wondered what kind of ribbing he'd give us when he saw us. He noticed us as he was walking by. He stopped and held out his hand for us to give him five. (BTW, if you were wondering, yes, that Nittany Lion outfit is STINKY!)
After the game, we had to walk back to where we parked the car mostly in the dark. I figured that we would surely be accosted by some bitter, drunken fan. When we were about halfway to our car, a guy leaning against a white pickup truck, finally yelled out to us with slurred speech. "Here it comes," I thought. Despite my initial expectations, what he actually said to us was, "Hey, guys. Good game. Thanks for coming to State College." I shook his hand and wished his team the best for the remainder of the season.
The following day, we were waiting outside a McDonalds in Phillipsburg (close to State College) waiting to meet up with some family. While we were there, at least 4 different people came up to us and congratulated us on the Buckeye victory. One lady who spoke to us told us that she worked on campus and she had heard about a concerted effort from Penn State fans to make opposing fans feel welcome (kind of like what we tried to organize for visiting Cornhusker fans). All I can say is: Mission Accomplished.
In short, during my 2 day stay in central PA I literally heard only a single negative word uttered in reference to my OSU fandom: "Boo!" And that came from a college-aged girl. Everyone else we interacted with was more than friendly to us. In fact, my dad commented that we actually had a worse time with Indiana fans than with Penn State fans! (At the Indiana game, we were accosted by one angry fan in the 4th quarter.) So, if you have read all the bad stuff that I have about Penn State fans here on 11W and are reluctant to make the trip out to State College, don't be! They have apparently decided to turn over a new leaf. It is officially safe to return to State College!
P.S. If any of you had a different experience on Saturday (or a similar one), feel free to let us all know in the comments.