Buckeyes must show patience at Happy Valley

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins will never forget his first White Out.

Besides, it may help him get ready for his second one, coming up Saturday night at Penn State.

The memory is still vivid from two years later: around 21,000 fans in the Nittany Lions student section wearing blindingly white shirts, stomping their feet, roaring until they were hoarse.

Even before the sixth-ranked Buckeyes could warm up for No. 16 Penn State, the Buckeyes knew they were in for a long night.

“The craziest thing was that they had fans lined up from our locker room to the field,” Jenkins said yesterday, shaking his head at the recollection. “That’s probably the first time – the only time – that’s ever happened. …People cursing you and spitting at you, and things like that.”

One fan singled out Jenkins and reminded him of a punt he’d fumbled several weeks before. Others screamed at the Buckeyes, while others seemed far more threatening.

Tyler Whaley, a backup fullback for the current top-ranked Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten), said it was like running a gauntlet. He said he expects more of the same when Ohio State plays the 24th-ranked Nittany Lions (6-2, 3-2) on Saturday night.

“They’re going to be right in your face and they’re going to be tempting you,” Whaley said of the Nittany Lions’ feverish fans. “You might get a smack on the helmet or on the back. You have to keep your cool right then and there. You don’t ever want to give your focus up to somebody by the concession stand as you go out to prepare for such a big game.”

Still, getting to the field was the easy part in 2005. Then Ohio State had to play the Nittany Lions and ended up with a 17-10 loss.

This weekend’s game will be the Buckeyes’ fourth night game of the season. Coach Jim Tressel said there are several reasons why fans seem to be more volatile, louder and more jacked up for the football version of Saturday night live.

“I think they make a day of it. They begin their enthusiasm and it just grows,” he said, a smile playing on his lips as he hinted that some fans might be drinking something stronger than root beer to get up for the game. “By 8 o’clock, their enthusiasm is overflowing. Perhaps they sit in the tailgate lots and watch the games and get excited about the competition on TV and all that stuff.”