It’s a special day today, because the Nebraska Cornhuskers visit Ohio Stadium for the first time since the Big Red became members of the Big Ten.
What will make the game extra special is that it is under the lights at the Old Horseshoe. Ohio Stadium is a classic, storied college football venue — you can’t walk into the Stadium without feeling the history sunk deep into the turf, the concrete rows and ramps up to B and C decks, and the pillars with their Block O capstones — but it becomes an especially spectacular place for a football game under the lights. The Stadium itself is brightly lit, and the crowd is lit, too.
The tailgaters will have been out for hours, guzzling beers, spanking down tailgate food, and getting pumped for the game. That additional tailgating time, and fact that the night games usually are big games against ranked teams, means that the Ohio Stadium crowd is much more raucous when darkness falls. It’s a lot easier to scream your brains out when you’ve lubricated those vocal cords with a six-pack or a few warming toddies. I’m hoping that tonight’s crowd is in full-throated frenzy and geared up to give Nebraska an especially loud and proud Ohio Stadium welcome to the Big Ten.
It should be an interesting match-up on the field, too. Last year, Ohio State jumped out to a surprisingly large lead in Lincoln, then Nebraska shredded the Buckeye defense in the second half and pulled off an historic comeback. It was an embarrassing performance by the Ohio State defense. I’m hoping that the D uses last year’s game as motivation and comes out ready to play, because Nebraska has a powerful offense led by the arm and feet of quarterback Taylor Martinez. If Ohio State is going to win this game, its defense needs to control the line of scrimmage and control Martinez’s scrambling. Of course, the Buckeye defense has been used to facing Braxton Miller in practice, so they presumably should be well drilled in containment.
When I came back to Columbus yesterday, I saw a Nebraska fan in full regalia at Port Columbus. I said hello, welcomed him to the Big Ten, wished him a fun time during his visit to Columbus, and then said I hoped the Buckeyes stomped the Cornhuskers tonight. I meant every word.