Game Day Observations: Ohio State
The environment in Columbus for No. 1 Ohio State’s 28-point win over Penn State was, in a word, astounding. I was fortunate enough to travel to the game and watch in person, and here are some non-football things that stood out.
- I was told to expect a welcoming crowd, but I was still surprised. Other than one group of students that yelled standard obscene remarks at the group I was with, no one treated us poorly even though we were blatantly Penn State fans. There was no talk of the scandal, and we were invited to most tailgates we walked by. Naturally, we accepted a lot of the invitations, and made a bunch of friends ranging from current students to alumni from decades ago. One of our theories for the welcoming environment is that every fan had a “We’re going to kill you on the field, so this is the least we can do” mindset, but even then they admitted they had exceptions — we were told at almost every tailgate that if we were Michigan fans, we’d receive no such hospitality.
- “The Best Damn Band in the Land” has every right to call itself that. Obviously, no disrespect is intended towards the Blue Band, but Ohio State’s band left every Penn Stater I’ve talked to speechless. During its pregame show, it made the Blue Band’s signature “PSU” while playing Penn State’s fight songs, and at halftime it put on a British Invasion show. Check it out below if you haven’t seen it yet.
- The Horseshoe was a lot bigger than it looked, and its modern amenities were refreshing. Having never been to Ohio State before (Hell, I was never west of Pittsburgh before this weekend), I didn’t know what to expect from the stadium other than it’s big and houses the National Champions. It ended up holding 108,000 people for the game, the second largest crowd in Ohio State history, and the stadium was 4,000 seats over capacity. In addition to the staggering number of people (and their deafening cheers), the way that the stadium staff presented itself was like an NFL team, as opposed to the other end of the spectrum, which would probably be Beaver Stadium. Traditional fans rave about the minimalism of Penn State’s pregame festivities, and I totally understand that. Rather than show off how much it can spend, it lets its play do the talking. Still, when Ohio State sprints out of the tunnel to loud music and fireworks (probably four times as flashy as Penn State’s fireworks, which were just implemented this year), and when it flashes the “¯\_(ツ)_/¯” emoticon on the big screen after a sack, it seems like Ohio State is just having so much fun, regardless of how silly it might look to some fans.
- Penn State fans traveled well, but were still a vast minority. It was more obvious before the game than during it, but there was a solid contingent of Nittany Lion fans in Columbus for the game. There were clear “We Are” chants from around corners and from a few tailgates over at most given moments. Ohio State did its best impression of the visiting team’s most popular promotion with its “Black Out,” which most fans bought in to, and an unintended effect was that it hid the Penn State fans. It’s hard to pick Nittany Lion Blue out from a crowd in all black, and white jerseys could be supporters of either team. Still, there were obvious cheers on big plays for the away team, so even if it was hard to spot where they were coming from, the team should have felt support from the stadium.
- The Internet is a scary place. At one tailgate, in the middle of a great conversation about the band (did you know a few years ago an anonymous donor paid enough so that it can travel every member to every away game?), we noticed a happy couple where the man was wearing a Penn State jersey and the woman wore an Ohio State jersey. Upon further investigation, we learned that they got engaged earlier in the day, despite their differing allegiances in college football. We sent out this congratulatory tweet (and this Facebook post) and some of the responses were just brutal. If you just read the responses and comments, you’d think that college football was more important than a happy, newly engaged couple. Yikes.
- One fan said that he “loved me in ‘Theory of Everything.'” I haven’t seen the movie yet so I don’t get the joke, bu-
Oh. Well done Ohio State. Even your heckles are the best in the nation. Thanks for the hospitality, and we can’t wait to see you next time.