You’re lucky, you know.
There are universities that would sell their anthropology departments for the right to have a stadium like The Shoe.
That’s what makes weekends like this one so damn special.
Saturday is about the Buckeyes. It’s about the Boilermakers. It’s about Ohio and Indiana. It’s about revenge and redemption. It’s about Braxton Miller’s budding Heisman candidacy. It’s about Carlos Hyde’s power. It’s about Devin Smith’s hands. It’s about the Buckeyes’ defense making a statement against a decent offense. In all of those respects, it’s about the molding, shining future of the Ohio State football program.
But ultimately, The Shoe seems more important than most of those things.
Ohio Stadium has seen many things over the years. Two of its proudest moments have come in the past 365 days.
A year ago, in the midst of a spiraling 2011 campaign, the Buckeyes knocked off a ranked Wisconsin team and breathed new hope into the rapidly declining program. But, if you were in the stadium for that watershed moment, it was impossible to escape the feeling that the magic of that night was in part attributable to Ohio Stadium. Wisconsin seemed just as responsive to the ebb and flow of the crowd as they did to the Ohio State players themselves. Eventually, the Badgers succumbed. The students rushed the field and marched off singing “We Don’t Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan.” It felt like a rebirth.
Two weeks ago against Nebraska, everything was different for the Buckeyes. But nothing had changed in The Shoe. The crowd was just as hungry as they were a year ago, albeit with less desperation and more classic Buckeye arrogance confidence. But the Buckeyes needed the help just the same. After a lackluster first quarter, the Cornhuskers finally seemed to accept that they were outclassed. If Wisconsin was a rebirth, this was a confirmation.
It would be a mistake, though, to assume that the magical qualities of The Shoe are somehow reserved for night games. Or even game where the future of the program seems to be playing out on the field. Sure, there are nights when the crowd will be wilder than others. But fundamentals like Quick Cals (I guess), Script Ohio, O-H-I-O, and Carmen Ohio never change. Nor does the fact that over 100,000 fans come together to watch their team play.
It’s there in September too, when non-conference opponents come to town for a sound beating. The weather is warmer and, yes, the crowd is a little more subdued (though the switch to semesters may alleviate some of that problem).
It’s there during B1G play as well. So when the Buckeyes return to Ohio Stadium on Saturday for a matchup against Purdue, you know the place of battle will matter almost as much as the players themselves. Ohio Stadium is a place our conference has come to fear over the decades.
Finally, The Shoe may be at its most potent when That Team Up North comes to town. Michigan Stadium and Ohio Stadium are both standing tributes to the importance of football not only in the two states they represent, but also in America as a whole. It’s impossible to tell the story of the rivalry between the two teams and states without making reference to and heeding the importance of the places where that rivalry has played out.
Days like Saturday are why they build football stadiums. So are days like November 24th. With The Shoe’s help, the Buckeyes will be victorious on both.