My apologies for being on hiatus last week, but I figured it would be no biggie since it’s off-season and people were traveling for Thanksgiving. It was also Beat Michigan Week here in Columbus and I thought I might share some of the traditions for those not familiar with “The Game.” First things first, OSU/Michigan is the greatest rivalry in sports. Fact. If you’re unaware of the history between these teams, get up to speed by reading this.
As for my background, “I’m a Buckeye born and bred, I’ll be a Buckeye ’til I’m dead” (and in my awesome OSU/Yankee themed after life). My dad, three of my uncles, two of my cousins, and both me and my two sisters went to OSU. Safe to say so will my kids… if they want me to pay for their education ;). True story- one of my first words was football and I didn’t know Ohio had more than one college in the state for at least half my life (pretty sure Ohio has the most colleges/square mile in the country). I’m obsessed and biased and I HATE Michigan. Seriously it’s gross and bleep, bleep, bleep. I also like to joke that this is why Derek Jeter (Michigan fan) and I can never be together… haha!
Urban Meyer’s first season as Ohio State’s head coach went by really quickly! The team amassed an impressive 11 victories against truth be told not the greatest teams. But if you saw last year’s team and factored in that these kids had no real motivation (bowl ban), this is quite the feat! Still, with a loss to that team up north (TTUN), all of this would mean absolutely nothing. NOTHING! (please read that dramatically!)
So here goes a brief summary of the highlights of Beat Michigan Week and my thoughts on the game/post-game festivities:
Directly after Ohio State beat Wisconsin on 11/17: Friends, family, and Buckeye fans across the country breath a sigh of relief and immediately start declaring the commencement of Beat Michigan Week via word of mouth and on social media. Well deserved trashing of TTUN holds steady all week.
Monday: Ohio State has their annual Beat Michigan Pep Rally at the Union. I went when I was a freshman and it was a good time. The team captains are there with the band and Brutus and the cheerleaders. This year they debuted the new Nike Pro Combat uniforms the Buckeyes would wear for The Game.
Tuesday: This is the best Michigan week tradition of all- Mirror Lake jump. Ever since they moved The Game to Thanksgiving week, the jump has been on Tuesday instead of Thursday night, but that (and the cold) doesn’t deter thousands from showing up and jumping in. I jumped in last year with one of my friends, Ashley, since she’d never done it. We said we’d do it for life, but then she got pregnant, so we decided this year wouldn’t be a good idea. There’s nothing like jumping in this disgusting little lake and if you’re ever in town on this day, you should consider joining in or at least heading to campus around midnight to watch!
Wednesday/Thursday: Not too much excitement on these days since most fans are traveling home for the holidays. Turkey Day with my family was one of my favorites. Good food and company- minus my cousin’s Michigan grad fiancé… just kidding! He’s great, even my dad likes him which is impressive because my dad really hates Michigan.
Friday: Former OSU head coach Earle Bruce has a tailgate which the team attends. Urban Meyer made headlines saying, “let’s beat the sh*t out of Michigan.” After years of a tight-lipped and well-composed Jim Tressel, this was a refreshing change of pace. From working in the media, I can say I like that Meyer gives us plenty to talk about!
Saturday: Day of The Game- if you’re not pumped, you have no soul! Noon kick.
My friend Nick, my sister Jezzie, and I walked over to campus to tailgate and whatnot around nine which is actually pretty late for most fans. I had friends on campus before 5 am! Nick and I headed to St. Johns to catch the skull session, a game day tradition that I will admit was way more exciting when I was little. I wanted to stop in to say goodbye to St. Johns Arena since they’ll be tearing it down. I know it’s old, but wow what a place to catch a basketball game in! I hate basketball, but I went to one game a few years ago when OSU played Cal in the NIT Tournament and loved it. The team normally plays at the Schott, but they had to play at St. Johns for scheduling reasons and the atmosphere was far better anyways! The place is cramped and even the steep upper level feels like it’s right on top of the court. It’s loud and brimming with tradition, so I’m sad to see it go.
But back to my day… we stayed for the fight song and some other OSU jams before heading across the street to Ohio Stadium or the ‘shoe. The stadium used to be horseshoe shaped with bleachers in the south end zone. They’ve since updated it to a permanent concrete structure with a mammoth scoreboard. Nick’s dad is one of the ushers, so we stopped by his section to say hi before heading over to our seats in the south stands. We bought our tickets the day after OSU beat Nebraska on Ticketmaster for $120 ($100 + a bunch of bs processing fees). There are plenty of options for getting tickets (lottery, OSU ticket exchange through Ticketmaster, scalping, etc.), but waiting until the week of is a crap shoot, so try and avoid it! We watched the teams warm up and jaw at each other a bit before the Buckeyes came to the south end zone to do their “Quick Cals.” It’s a new tradition Meyer started with the team and student section, “Block O.”
Prior to kick-off, Ohio State’s band does its ramp entrance and of course the incomparable Script Ohio. It’s one of the best traditions in college sports and I’m pretty sure it’s the only reason we learned cursive in elementary school! We did have to suffer through Michigan’s band a little, which made the 100 scUM fans present happy. I was surprised by how few fans showed up in support- I’ve seen more Michigan fans walking around Columbus during normal days! Well former OSU players were in attendance and formed the Tunnel of Pride (a little differently this year) for the team to run through and the seniors were announced. My heart broke to see John Simon not suited up and only able to walk through when his name was announced. He battled through injuries all season and in case you missed it was in beast mode during the Wisconsin game only the week before. I’ll admit I was pretty nervous about him not playing since the defense had been shaky all season.
During the game, I was on a roller coaster ride of emotions- went through them all. The first half I was up- hell yeah Carlos Hyde punching it in on our first possession, way to go Corey Brown making it to the end zone, Drew Basil 52 yarder- you’re a dude. and I was down- hey Braxton, what the hell are you doing?, how is Denard this good?, refs are you frickin’ blind? I think the best expression of what a fan goes through watching their favorite team in a big game is this YouTube video of a Bama fan watching them lose to Texas A&M while playing Call of Duty. A warning the link includes mature content (heavy swearing). He cracks me up because I can totally relate. My favorite part is when he throws out a compliment to the opposing team’s QB, Johnny Manziel. Only in the south are they that polite! The 2002 National Championship team was also honored during one of the timeouts and it was great to see Tress and the team again. Some of the former players lifted him up on their shoulders and the stadium just erupted! NCAA you can take away our coach, but you’ll never take our love (my best Braveheart).
We got a break from standing during the halftime show. The south stands are mainly student sections, so they stand the whole game. In my humble opinion, if you want to sit the entire game and not cheer, stay at home. Atmosphere and crowd noise are part of this little thing called home field advantage. There are a bunch of sections that don’t get up even for third downs. It’s weak. But anyways, the halftime show- Michigan’s band was again terrible and Ohio State’s Fantasia theme was ok. They had some neat formations, but it was nothing like the video game show they did for the Nebraska game. That. Was. Amazing.
The second half literally flew by. Michigan showed some life early, but Ohio State’s defense didn’t just shut them down, they made Denard and Gardner look incompetent (a 180 from the first half). Unfortunately, Ohio State’s offense didn’t get the memo and continued to piss away the defensive gifts, settling for two field goals, allowing Michigan to stay in the game until the final three minutes. Carlos Hyde carried Ohio State to their final first down and Urban Meyer’s reaction was priceless. He really stands out on the sidelines in his white jacket and emotional displays. Earlier this season I was annoyed by how uncollected he acted, but I have grown to love his outbursts and displays of emotion. You don’t see them too much when watching on TV, but live it’s almost as entertaining as the game itself. Maybe they should have an Urban cam in the corner of the broadcast- that would be fun!
Nick and I made our way down to the field, though it took a long time since everyone else had the same idea. By the time we got down there, most of the team was gone, but it was still exciting to take part in the post-game celebrations. We ran into my sisters and dad too. My dad and Jezzie sat in C deck but managed to get down on the field and hang out with Urban Meyer at the 50-yard line. I don’t know how my dad does it, but he always gets down on the field next to the coaches and players all the time. A few years ago he sang Carmen Ohio with one arm around Tressel and one around Cam Heyward after an OT win against Iowa. The man just loves Ohio State and has the best stories, though that A&M fan who crashed Bama’s sidelines has him beat!
This game ranked pretty high in my OSU experiences- I’m now 4-0 against Michigan in the ‘shoe! I’m proud of this team and thank them for an exciting season. 12-0 should guarantee OSU a top five pre-season ranking next season- a good place to start their title hunt from!
When I started writing this I intended for it to be short and sweet, but I should have known better! I will be back to posting about baseball later this week, but I hope you enjoyed reading a little about Ohio State’s traditions and my off-season antics. Go Bucks!