The Friday Night Lights shined over College Park, Maryland, as the Terps (2-1) and the No. 12-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0) kicked off on Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, in what was the schools’ first conference game of the season.
As a Friday night college game is a delicious rarity, it was sold out. Classes were even canceled for the day. And because the opponent was from the neighboring state of (checks notes) Pennsylvania, much of that sold-out crowd were clad in (checks again) blue and white.
It presented an uncommon opportunity to tailgate while the rest of the D.C. area was stuck at work. Fans set up their grills, cracked open a cold one and represented that alma mater, early Friday afternoon.
“I feel like, they play like they did the first two games, then they got a shot,” said one of the early Terp fans, John Hatmaker. He and his family set for the afternoon and evening.
And then there was Brian Souders, of Damascus, who brought a trailer that raised the bar for pregaming.
“We got satellite TV. We can watch the game. … We have more tents if we need them. We have a full kitchen, with all of our food and all of our kitchen appliances.” (See below. It’s something.)
Pat Byrne of Columbia said his crew plans months in advance for their tailgate. “We have board meetings. We get organized — invites, security patrol, lights, as you can see. Music, TVs, food — you name it, we got it.”
Another group of longtime friends aimed for an Octoberfest theme, complete with sauerbraten, pretzels and (obviously) beer.
“The biggest thing for us is to win the tailgate,” said Morris Zwick of Germantown. “Because when you are a Maryland football fan, it’s not necessarily about winning the football game.”
“Disaster, destruction and humiliation” for the Terps is how WTOP sports reporter Jonathan Warner described the 59-0 game. Yikes. Warner had other words, but the score speaks for itself.
Zwick was well aware that the Terps are up against a ranked opponent: He was clad in a shirt reading “We’re doomed” because “I don’t want to keep my hopes too far up,” he said. And, he was quite right.
“On the other hand, you know, Maryland could win this game, so who knows?” Zwick said. But they did not.
Zwick and his crew are alums of the Maryland band. So as a consolation for what Warner called a “demolition,” enjoy the group’s musical take on the festivities, which you absolutely have to check out above if you haven’t already.
WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.