What you need to know: The Blue-White Game

UNIVERSITY PARK — Leading up to each game in the 2018 season, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions on Saturday.

First up: The annual Blue-White game, the perfect opportunity for you to fire up the tailgate, gather with your friends, and enjoy a weekend in Happy Valley.

Game details: 3 p.m. kickoff, broadcast live on BTN, Penn State Sports Network, and GoPSUsports.com.

Ticket/parking info: Admission is free, and season ticket and season parking permit holders from the 2017 season received a white 2018 Blue-White Game parking permit with their 2017 ticket booklet last summer, per GoPSUsports. Parking permits for the 2018 Blue-White game are valid for the white and yellow lots. Fans not having this permit will be charged for parking (cash only), and more information is available online.

Venue: Beaver Stadium, where Penn State averaged 106,707 fans last season, ranking third in the NCAA in attendance.

Team arrival: The team blue bus will arrive at the corner of Curtin Road and Porter Road at 11:45 a.m.

Weather forecast (via AccuWeather): High of 54 degrees and partly sunny. Temperatures should peak near kickoff, and it’ll feel just a few degrees warmer. Chance of precipitation is low (14 percent), and we have a feeling the somewhat cool temps won’t keep fans away. After a long winter (at least it felt that way), Saturday should provide just enough warmth and sunshine to make Blue-White feel like a fall football weekend at Penn State.

Count on: Spending your entire day on campus, with plenty of activities planned, starting early. There’s lots to do, and here’s the rundown, courtesy of GoPSUsports:

The popular autograph session with the Nittany Lions will be held from 12:15 p.m.-1:05 p.m. Members of the Penn State football team will be assigned to gates A, B, C, E and F of Beaver Stadium. The players will be permitted to sign one item per person to give as many fans as possible an opportunity to meet the squad.

Fan Fest, the official Penn State football game day fan festival, includes numerous displays, vendors and interactive events for kids, and will run from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Fan Fest will be located on Curtin Road near Beaver Stadium, as it is during the season.

The Blue-White Family Fun Zone will be held from 9 a.m-11 a.m. in Holuba Hall and the Pegula Ice Arena parking lot off of University Drive. The Fun Zone is free and open to the public. The Family Fun Zone features game stations run by Penn State athletics teams, live entertainment, interactive games, inflatables, novelty stations, giveaways and fun for the entire family.

Penn State letterman, LaVar Arrington, is bringing his elite eighth-grade all-star game to Happy Valley. The invitees will practice on campus the week leading up to the Blue-White Game and culminates in the A11 Stars Bowl in Beaver Stadium beginning at 10 a.m. The A11 Stars Bowl will be open to the public without charge.

Keep an eye on (offense): The offensive line, which will be a key focus for the Nittany Lions this season. Quarterback hits won’t be allowed Saturday, though it’ll be telling to see how much time they have in the pocket before they no longer feel comfortable. For a group that’s been analyzed so much the last four or five seasons, defensive end Ryan Buchholz sees the progress that’s been made after going against the group in the spring.

"They are older and they are a mature group," Buchholz said last week, speaking after practice. "Even though they did switch around last year, they are definitely good this year. They stepped up a lot.”

Also worth noting is the buzz that wide receiver KJ Hamler has ignited this spring, with James Franklin saying this at the beginning of spring practice:

"He's just so quick and so fast," the head coach said. “Usually, you get a guy that's really fast or really quick and he's both. He's still not as efficient with his movement as he needs to be, but he's an exciting prospect.”

Buchholz also called Hamler the breakout player of spring practice.

Keep an eye on (defense): Gone are defensive leaders Marcus Allen, Jason Cabinda, and Grant Haley.

Returning is cornerback John Reid, who missed all of last season with an injury. Reid still traveled with the team, with Franklin crediting Reid’s maturity and intelligence as two reasons why it was valuable for him to travel, especially considering that teams are limited with players who can make the trip.

"We felt as coaches, him traveling and being around the guys, and his intelligence and his knowledge and experience, that was valuable," Franklin said. "The players wanted that and the coaches wanted that. I think it also helped keep him engaged, because as much as you tell guys to stay locked in, when you're not traveling and you're not on the sideline, it's difficult.”

After practice on April 4, Franklin said that if the team had a game that Saturday, that Reid would play. So if you're looking for a key takeaway during Blue-White, track how many snaps Reid will play, and how comfortable he’ll look while pivoting, stopping, and turning.

Trivia tidbit: The Blue-White game has attracted at least 50,000 fans in seven of the last nine years, including an estimated crowd of 68,000 last season.

Prediction: A great weekend for the Penn State faithful. The annual spring scrimmage serves as the unofficial start to spring in Happy Valley, and we’re glad it’s finally here. We encourage you to spend the entire weekend at Penn State, arrive early at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, and enjoy the tailgates, camaraderie, and football.

And remember this: After Blue-White, we’re only fourth and a half months away from the season opener Sept. 1 against Appalachian State. We’re just as eager for the season to start as you are, and we hope you follow along all season for complete coverage.

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