Rutgers fans are waiting for the day when a SHI sell-off means no tickets for Penn State fans

There was a Penn State game at SHI Stadium on Saturday. At least that’s how many fans felt at Rutgers’ home game on Saturday — before, during and after a 55-10 loss to the No. 11 Nittany Lions.

That was certainly the mindset that brought Mary Ann Ronckovitz, a Penn State graduate student from Point Pleasant, to Piscataway.

“We have a feeling we’re going to make this a home game,” she said. “It’s going to be home field advantage for Penn State today.”

As conference play rages on, Rutgers Football’s home stadium is almost overrun with visiting fans and there was no shortage of navy blue and whites in the announced attendance of 55,676, a record at SHI Stadium. Just two weeks earlier, the 52-17 loss to Michigan, now ranked third in the nation, was set against a backdrop of corn and blue. It was easy to forget that these were home games for Rutgers as the crowd erupted when the opposition scored.


“Here’s what I expect from the band,” said Robert Deitz of Belmar, “Every time [opposing fans] Start cheering, we need the band to help us get through this.

Given the Garden State’s alumni base, a major exhibition from Penn State was expected. According to Paul Clifford, CEO of the Penn State Alumni Association, there are 34,757 Penn State alumni in New Jersey, the university’s largest alumni population outside of Pennsylvania.

What does it mean Saturday when about half the crowd fired for Penn State?

“It tells you that your program needs to get better,” Deitz said. “That’s all. One-day tickets are becoming more difficult and expensive, and fans will want to leave. New Jersey doesn’t support New Jersey, which is a shame. That’s the reality. A lot of people from New Jersey go to Penn State and why do they want to overpay their tuition and go to a school that is worse than Rutgers? I do not understand. I’m the only one saying that.”

Milltown’s Joe Anselmo also thinks a winning record would help.

“If you go back in time to the first Schiano era, there was a time when you couldn’t get Rutgers tickets,” he said. “That’s where we need to go, and W’s are taking us there.”

For now, Piscataway comes in handy for Big Ten school grads. The area is home to tens of thousands of Big Ten alumni. Tickets are available and Rutgers fans are welcoming.

“I love that Rutgers joined the Big Ten and just had this East Coast stop,” said Connor Loder, a PSU grad from Middletown. “The Big Ten is great because it’s very community and everyone is very proud of the Big Ten, so it’s always great to tour no matter what school you’re in.”

Rutgers announced Thursday that it has distributed all available tickets for Saturday’s game. And many of those ticket holders proudly donned their PSU gear and likely found the confidence to be 19-point favorites — and win 30 of the last 31 meetings.

“We’ve been to this game many times and it’s weird to wear [Penn State gear], but I don’t feel like I’m being bothered,” said Samantha Mulkay of Bergen County. “The mood is so good for both schools. Everyone supports their team, but they don’t argue.”

The sea of ​​Nittany Lions doesn’t bother all Rutgers fans.

“The more the merrier,” said Audrey Krajicek, a junior at Rutgers. “I have a lot of friends at Penn State, and I don’t care if you want to come and meet. It’s just for fun.”

Many Penn State students were hanging out with their Rutgers friends — which was evident about seven minutes into the first quarter when the Nittany Lions’ first touchdown was accompanied by celebrations throughout the Rutgers fraternity.

Ava Gall, a junior at Rutgers of Cranford, NJ, attributed much of it to this game, which took place on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

“I’m sure they just want to go to a football game like us,” she said.

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So how can Rutgers fans ensure the rest of the stadium isn’t overrun with opponents?

“If you have season tickets, don’t sell your tickets,” said Jason Henning. “Go to the game.”

The last time Rutgers defeated Penn State was at State College in 1988, where he enjoyed a 15-year winning streak. Rutgers fans knew the Scarlet Knights were heavy underdogs and might have even dreamed of an upset when Rutgers took a 10-7 lead in the first quarter. But in the end, the Rutgers fans who showed up believed it said a lot about their commitment to the program.

“It’s Seniors Day out here,” said Scarlet Knights supporter Brian Urbanovich. “Maybe there are more Penn State fans, but the real Rutgers fans are here and we appreciate what they did.”


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Bridget Hyland can be reached at [email protected].