Before the 98th meeting between rival schools Eastern Illinois University and Illinois State University, 10,013 fans outside of O'Brien Field in Charleston meshed together into a sea of blue getting ready for Thursday's football season opener.
Most of the blue sea consisted of, "Panther Nation," a group of students similar to what the University of Illinois calls "Orange Crush."
Tony Romo jerseys, blue wigs, foam hands, beads and pom-poms were all mainstays among Panthers' fans.
Members of Panther Nation were given amenities like free bbq sandwiches from "What's Cookin," a local Charleston restaurant, a tent to play Nintendo Wii and XBOX 360, a beer tent and bounce houses for the younger crowd.
The sandwiches are fantastic and are highly recommended. Strolling in to the tent with the Wii and 360, professor Jon Oliver was enjoying the pregame festivities and looking to play a game of NCAA 10 on the XBOX 360. It would have been nice to take the professor on but time was of the essence and many other freebies needed to be seen.
While all the free amenities drew a large crowd, one crew was supporting a great cause.
Hopefully, everyone got a chance to go to the dunk tank which was set up for the Liz Halbert Scholarship fund.
Halbert brought a campaign against racism to EIU called the "Not in our Town," campaign.
It cost three dollars to throw five balls at a target in an attempt to knock Darius White, vice-president of the Black Student Union at EIU, off of his perch.
After an unsuccessful attempt to knock White to the water, Health Services passed out free hand sanitizer allowing a cleansing of the hands which produced such putrid shots.
With squeaky clean hands, the beer tent appeared to be a fun destination. Fans were served their choice of New Castle Brown Ale and Miller Lite with songs like Kid Rock's "All Summer Long," blasting.
After the beer tent, it was game time.
With three first-quarter turnovers, the game seemed sloppy, but EIU lit up its brand new scoreboard first in the second quarter on a Mon Williams 6-yard touchdown run. Panther Nation went insane as Jake Christensen hit Jimmy Potempa to extend its lead to 14-0.
A third-quarter touchdown sent Panther Nation into a roar and gave EIU, what ended up being, an insurmountable lead.
The team, Panther Nation and all who were a part should be proud of their work as EIU defeated ISU 31-6 for its 39th win against ISU.