Fans pack PNC Arena for first visit by 'College GameDay'

csmith@newsobserver.comJanuary 27, 2013 

— Despite icy roads and below freezing temperatures, fans flocked to PNC Arena Saturday morning to be a part of the first ever ESPN College GameDay held in Raleigh.

Though the show started at 10 a.m., N.C. State fans, along with a handful of North Carolina fans, were waiting hours beforehand.

For Wolfpack senior Ryan Abernathy, the wait to get into the arena started at 4:30 a.m. after being denied a chance at sleeping out on the ice on Friday night.

“We’re ready to beat Carolina,” Abernathy said. “We came out here at 9 p.m. with a tent and sleeping bags and were going to camp out, but security told us to go home. College GameDay’s here, so we had to be here.”

Fans who arrived early were treated to a speech from new football coach Dave Doeren along with performances by the dance team and cheerleading squad.

American Idol winner and N.C. State student Scotty McCreery took a break from recording in Nashville, Tenn., to attend the game and be a part of the event. The Garner native performed “Wagon Wheel,” by Old Crow Medicine Show with Doeren and fullback Logan Winkles on the court.

Here's a video of Doeren and McCreery playing "Folsom Prison Blues" courtesy of NC State Athletics (story follows below):

“I was supposed to be in Nashville today, but this is huge,” McCreery said. “I thought, we can pack everything into two days instead of three and make it work. With this being the first time GameDay has ever been to N.C. State, I’m just happy to be a part of it.

McCreery also had a prediction for the game.

“I really think the Pack’s got the edge tonight,” he said. “We’re in a slump right now, but I think a big game like this will help us turn it around and get the fire back. If they play with passion, they’ll get the W.”

N.C. State freshmen Elizabeth Collins and Chris Reed held a sign featuring Chubbs Peterson, Carl Weathers’ character from Happy Gilmore, for hours prior to the show beginning.

The two woke up and said they braved the icy roads even after seeing several cars sliding off the roads for Collins’ first basketball game as a student.

“I’m so stoked,” Collins said. “This is my first ever basketball game as a State student. I’ve rooted against UNC all my life and was heartbroken when we lost to them in football, so this is our revenge.”

Senior Tim Romer, a member of Abernathy’s group, was less than excited to hear about Collins’ getting the chance to see State playing Carolina for her first game. Romer said, “That kind of makes me sick.”

The Albany, N.Y., native said he has been through a lot leading up to this moment.

“We couldn’t miss this opportunity,” Romer said. “Just the fact that State is relevant enough to have College Gameday here is what brought us out. We’re all seniors, so we’ve been through the ups and downs. We had to come out and support this team.”

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