Game week is finally here.
All of the months you have spent visiting this site, reading up on Urban Meyer and the new staff, seeking out how the players were developing over the off-season, and more, finally has meaning. The Ohio State Buckeyes will play real live football this coming Saturday at noon in the Horseshoe against the Miami Red Hawks, and you can feel the excitement in the air.
While game day is enjoyed far and wide amongst college football fans every Saturday, each fan's game day experience tends to be different based on the preferences of each individual.
I am someone who loves the game day atmosphere on a college campus and taking in the game at the stadium. Whether it be on home turf at Ohio Stadium or taking a road trip to some of the best venues in America, there is nothing better to me than the feeling of hitting up local hot spots, tailgating, and seeing fans support their school in the mass on beautiful university grounds.
Not all people are like me though, and some prefer weekly rituals that include watching the game from their home couch or even heading to a friend's house on a weekly basis to take in the big game. There is something to be said about getting together with your buddies, being able to crack open a few ice cold beers, ordering some pizzas, and taking in the match-up to the soothing sounds of Brent Musburger, or whoever the announcers are for that given day.
Finally, some people like to head to a bar to watch the game. Some prefer the local, more quiet bar, while others prefer designated alumni spots to take in the game, but either way drinking, football, and good food definitely have a way of going together.
Today we take you inside each of these three game day experiences and hope you share with us in the comments below how you prefer to enjoy Buckeye football each weekend in the fall.
Taking in a college football game on the grounds of a big time university is special. It's even more special at a place like Ohio State.
The excitement for many starts before you even enter the stadium. Pre-game festivities are half the battle and depending on your game day style, there are many options for what you'll partake in prior to kick-off.
The one "must-do" if you have never been to a game in Columbus is head to the Skull Session. Skull Session is a concert/pep rally lead by The Ohio State Marching Band that takes place two hours before every game in St. John Arena, just across the street from the Horseshoe. The team walks through the event on their way to the stadium and stops to give the fans some final words of encouragement before heading to the locker rooms to suit up for battle.
Skull Session is something every Ohio State fan must experience at least once in their life, as it is part of the great tradition that make the Buckeyes one of the storied programs in college football history. I would recommend getting there early if you are going to go, because the 10,000 seat venue fills up quickly.
If you're like me and have already taken in a Skully once or twice, tailgating is the name of the game.
If you're a student, you're likely to be seen partying it up at your apartment, resident neighborhood home, or fraternity house just off campus. If you're not, or want the change of pace, head down to a bar on High Street, or even better on Lane Avenue, to take in some good fun with the sea of scarlet that floods the campus streets on game day.
The hot spot is Varsity Club on Lane and Neil, located about 500 yards from the stadium. Filled with fans both new and old, this bar has been around forever and is the biggest home for Ohio State faithful to flock before the game starts.
Other good spots to hit up include Little Bar on Lane and High (just past Buffalo Wild Wings), Out-R-Inn on Frambes and High, Eddie George's 27 Grille on Chittenden and High, or various other public parties and venues along the way on both High Street and Lane Avenue. Of course, if you know someone with a parking lot tailgate set up, that is a great place to be as well.
Finally, when you actually walk into the stadium, chills are sure to run up and down your body. Between watching "The Best Damn Band in the Land" perform Script Ohio, hearing the crowd do the O-H-I-O chant, hearing new traditions like the student sections rocking to "Buckeye Bounce" or now performing "Quick Cals", and hearing old traditions like Hang on Sloopy after the third quarter or singing Carmen Ohio after the game, nothing beats a Saturday in the Horseshoe.
Of course, not everyone can be at the stadium on game day, and many feel that if they can't be there that they prefer taking in the game from the couch.
There are many "pros" to this experience including your wallet staying a little bit thicker, shorter lines for the bathroom, the ability to pause the game if need be or rewind to see a play, hearing the insight from the announcers, and more.
In my opinion, the most important thing about watching the game from the couch (either your own or a friend's) is the execution, and it really separates a good experience from a great experience..
I have indulged in watching the big one from the couch many times, but have had different ways of going about it. There have been times where friends and I gather, get a case of beers and bring in some pizzas or food from a local place, but my preference for the ultimate game watching experience from home is the pot luck.
If you're not familiar with the concept, a pot luck is basically when everyone who is coming over to your house to watch the game either makes or brings something to contribute to the group fun.
Whether you are in charge of getting the booze, buying the six-foot hero, making the buffalo chicken dip, or other tasks, the key is getting a good list together of everything you'll need and making sure each person coming to the party is doing his or her job. As stated before, execution is important, so you will need someone running point on the pot luck in order to make sure everyone is living up to their end of the bargain.
Obviously for this method to work you need a decent sized crowd watching with you, but if you're just taking things in with one or two other friends, then maybe the good old beer and pizza strategy is the way to go.
Finally, if you are not in the stadium or on your couch, you're likely taking in the game from a bar.
As alluded to above, there are really two options if this is your go-to on game day. The first being a more quiet, low-key bar and the second being an alumni affiliated bar, or "Buckeye Bar".
The low-key bar is certainly a nice way to go. You're likely to get a high level of service, be able to scream and yell at the TV like you would at home, and don't have to deal with some of the Ohio State bars that have a little too much "BRO" in them for your liking.
On the other hand, there is something to be said about the camaraderie and feeling of togetherness experienced at a local alumni game watch. Each Saturday hundreds or thousands (depending on the city) of Buckeye fans get together at the same spot to watch their team while eating and drinking as well, even if the service isn't as speedy as the low-key joint.
At many of these bars they will play Buckeye Battle Cry, Across the Field, Hang On Sloopy, Carmen Ohio, I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State, and many other Buckeye tunes that make you feel right at home. The celebrations with random people next you when the Bucks get on the board or make a big stop feels just the same as if you were in the 'Shoe, and is an experience everyone who is out of town should try at least once.
Whatever your preference is, a bar certainly doesn't appeal to everyone, but is a perfectly fun and serviceable location to take in the game each week during the fall if you can't make it out to Columbus.