CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Penn State fans are putting on a tailgating clinic here.
As Virginia's players and coaches were making their way through the main gate of Scott Stadium this morning, the "We Are! Penn State!" chant echoed throughout the parking lot.
Considering it's Penn State's first road game under first-year coach Bill O'Brien, I was at Bodo's Bagels by 7:30 a.m. and at the stadium by 8 a.m. to check out the scene. Turns out I was waaaaay too early. This is a sleepy town for noon kicks. The parking lots were mostly empty, save for a handful of UVa fans and more Penn State fans. Even the bagel shop, which usually has a line out the door, was quiet. There are a lot of Penn State fans here, and a lot of families with mixed allegiances. It's hardly looking like the "hostile environment" O'Brien talked about this week at his news conference.
Virginia fans are behaving, as expected. Some Penn State beat writers were roaming around looking for any signs that might be derrogatory towards the Nits in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but I had to explain that this is a rather preppy campus, where ties, khakis and dresses outnumber jeans and T-shirts. Still. Penn State's busses with players and coaches quietly rolled into an underground parking lot, hardly noticed.
As far as weather is concerned, it could be a factor late in the game. There's a 60 percent chance of rain, and it could come around the fourth quarter. It might be an advantage for the team that is leading at that point. On the field, Penn State running back Bill Belton is out with an injured foot, and Derek Day will start in his place. The Penn State running backs are young, and UVa should have the edge at that position. Both teams are young in the secondary, and Penn State is looking to play better up front on the defensive line than it did in last week's loss to Ohio.
This is Penn State's first road game under O'Brien, and so far, it's looking like a typical day at the office in Charlottesville.