Penn State spring predictions: No. 4

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The countdown of Penn State spring practice predictions continues. And, between new contributors and a new coaching staff, there will be plenty to watch in Happy Valley this spring. So this prediction really shouldn’t come as a surprise ...

Blue-White attendance more than doubles from 2013

A lot was working against Penn State’s annual spring game last season. Rain canceled the carnival and activities the night before, the popular autograph session was discontinued, and kickoff began two hours earlier than usual (at noon as opposed to 2 p.m.). Only an estimated 28,000 fans showed up.

This season? James Franklin and the university are taking control of everything they can to boost that attendance. The autograph session is back, Bill O’Brien’s odd scoring system is out, and kickoff is now at 1:30 p.m. on April 12. As a result, this could draw the best crowd in four or five years.

Sanctions or not, there’s an air of excitement surrounding this team -- and Franklin has fanned those flames with talk of dominating the state and returning Penn State to national prominence. As long as Happy Valley isn’t covered in rain clouds, those excited fans should again flock to the annual Blue-White Game.

There was a time not too long ago when the attendance at Beaver Stadium for the spring game outnumbered the best regular-season crowds at Pitt. (In 2009, for example, 76,500 fans watched the Blue-White Game. Pitt’s Heinz Field holds just 65,500.)

But, for one reason or another, the crowds at Penn State have since dropped. There were respectable crowds that numbered between 55,000 and 60,000 in 2010 and 2012. But rain and miserable weather put a damper on the 2011 and 2013 games. As a result, it’s not a stretch to think that 2014’s attendance should reach 56,000 at the very least.

And, if the weather cooperates, there could be another 10,000. Maybe more.

More spring predictions:

No. 5: A more public, eager-to-please coach