The Game Day Experience

By Alex on August 27, 2012 at 6:00p
The Shoe gets a-rockinThere's nothing better than a game at Ohio Stadium

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.

The Stadium

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.

Lane Ave is the place to beThe Varsity Club is always a win-win situation

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.

The Couch

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.

Looks about rightA potluck is the way to go if watching from home

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.

The Bar

Finally, if you are not in the stadium or on your couch, you're likely taking in the game from a bar.

Buckeye Bar Chicago FTW"Buckeye Bars" could be a fun alternative to watch

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.


Comments Show All Comments

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Since I now live in Arizona, the routine lands us in The American Junkie, an alumni bar in Old Town Scottsdale.  It is packed with OSU fans and all TVs are tuned to the game.  There is a DJ, great food, great drinks, and tasty food including sliders, Sky Line Dogs, and Buckeyes for desert.  Each time the Buckeyes score a TD, there are hundreds of jellow shots thown out!  I have a feeling this year will entail a ton of jelly shots!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Alex's picture

just curious, you ever go into the Italian Grotto?

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Alex - I know exactly where it is because I've been by it about a million times but have never stopped in for food or drinks!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Alex's picture

The owner is a character

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I will make it a point to visit when I get back from Columbus!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Hoody Wayes's picture

I lived in Chandler. Used to go to Greasy Tony's, in Tempe (now defunct?) and get one of their giant-ass New Jersey-style pizzas and watch the Bucks on t.v. at home.
Or, I'd go here for my game-day grub:

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

HA - you can never go wrong hanging out in a place called greasy Tony's!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Rapping Bum's picture

Adriatico's Buckeye Pizza if watching at home, at least while I lived in Columbus.

Help is on the way.

dbit's picture

Question for fellow Buckeyes:
I'm getting tickets for the UAB game, and it's essentially between nosebleeds in C-deck or the last couple rows in the B-deck.  I know you have to watch out for the pillars in B-deck, but can you see the screen from the back of B-deck?
Which would you suggest?

Tim's picture

I was in the 12B row 6 my freshman year, and we had a pillar blocking a fair portion on the north side of the field.  If you're in the last few rows, you probably wouldn't be able to see the scoreboard because of the overhang.  I think you'd be better off with C-Deck, even if it is the last few rows.

omahabeef1337's picture

Where in C deck? And define "nosebleeds." I think most seats in C deck are fine. You may be high up, but you can see the whole field.
The only seats I've had that I really didn't like were in 32B -- The top corner of the south stands. It felt like I was barely in the stadium. The south side of the horseshoe part of the stadium filled up a large portion of what I could see. We could see the field etc, but barely felt like we were part of the atmosphere of the game.

Alex's picture

I would go C Deck...even have some tickets available if you want to email me...even if not, much better than B on the sidelines/closed end....B in the south stands isn't bad

faux_maestro's picture

I like anywhere in C-deck better than just about any other seats. Though my favorite seats were in the old temporary bleachers they used to use in the south endzone, that may have been because I was with a group of friends that would "go really REALLY hard" in "pregame preparation" and it was 1998.....

Your mom told me she wants a Dicken Cidar.

dbit's picture

Thank you, thank you!  And Alex, I sent you an email.

Menexenus's picture

No, you cannot see the screen from the back of B deck.  However, they do have TVs mounted on the pillars that run on a 3 second delay.  So you can see the televised plays (even if you don't get to see the other hijinks that happen on the big board).

Real fans stay for Carmen.

schooey's picture

The "soothing sounds of Brent Musburger" is gross. He is my least favorite part of the experience (period). I miss Keith Jackson. Even with his West coast bias, I would prefer to hear him than Musburger. Sometimes I wonder if Musberger is all there mentally etc. etc. 

RedStorm45's picture

B-deck if it rains.  The end.
No seriously, I think you've got the old, old TVs up there and possibly a horizontal scoreboard depending on where you are.  I remember as a kid watching from way up in B-deck and not being able to see kicks, punts, etc.  Throw in the pillars depending on your seats and it's not great.

741's picture

I did hear something about new, flat screen HD televisions replacing the old TV's up in B-deck this year. (Not that this has anything to do with the earlier poster's question - which the clear answer in my opinion is anywhere in C-deck is actually pretty good.)

BuckeyeVet's picture

I'd take C-deck since it's early in the year.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

"The recipient of Oyster's ONLY down vote".

zjhousley's picture

Nothing beats watching the game inside The Shoe, but I also enjoy watching most games at home with fellow Buckeye fans!!!  Can't wait to enjoy 4 home games from 27AA this year!!!

Bucksfan's picture

Honestly, I used to go watch the games at an alumni bar.  Then that became far too expensive to manage every week (7 dollar beers, plus the games are at 9AM and that's f'ing early), so I now watch them in the privacy of my own home...and only meet up with some friends a few times a year.  This way, I can straight up yell at my TV and only my wife is there to offend.  Last year was a lot of fun bantering back and forth about the playcalling on the live blog.
Anyway, it's getting tamer and tamer the older I get.  Sort of depressing.  But that's why there's beer (drinking and live blogging on 11W counts as not drinking alone, right?!  I mean, you HAVE to take a drink every time the off-tackle ISO is called, even if it's 9AM.  DAVE!).  GO BUCKS!

buckeye76BHop's picture

Love it Alex...I'm excited for Saturday.  I've had the same seats for 6 years...29A.  This is always my route too, park at a First Church of Nazarene off King (they take "donations" so you can give a Buck...if you're cheap).  After that, Eddie's, then Varsity Club, sometimes Tommy's and then you know where.  I'm usually about 12 or more in before arriving (not to mention flask full of Crown for inside).  When my wife got different tickets for the Iowa game in 2009 for my bday (5AA), she was surprised that I can drink so much in such little time ;-)

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

ARMYBUCK's picture

I know Im in the minority but I prefer to watch the game at home by myself if I cant make it to the shoe.  I cant really explain how intense I get on game days and its better that I do it alone.  I also struggle with trying to watch with friends or aquaintances that are less than knowledgeable about the game and spew idiotic remarks constantly.  I may have a problem. But its MY problem!  GO BUCKS!

Buckeyejason's picture

^^im the same way, don't feel bad.


SLVRBLLTS's picture

Exactly! I learned this about myself when I almost lost my voice at a Bdubs after Hamby dropped that loaf against Texas. The epiphanic moment was when I got asked by someone dressed head to toe in buckeye gear why I was mad..................

"Because we couldn't go for three"

cplunk's picture

Same here! That's why I bought a 68 inch plasma! 

btalbert25's picture

I've come pretty accustomed to tuning out the bullshit from others, but primetime games I don't typically go out to watch.  I prefer to be in my own living room watching it.  Noon kick offs I head to a bar down the road and have a few beers order some food from a killer pizza place next door and watch with the bartender as we're about the only 2 there.  Sometimes a couple friends come by, it's usually a good time.  
I don't like going to another person's house though.  I HATE HATE HATE when people flip channels during commercials and don't turn back to the game in time and stuff like that.  What can you do though?  I choose to stay home! 
Anyway, long winded way of me saying most of the time I stay home and watch the game.

cbusbuckeye's picture

^This. Always be careful when going to someone elses house...I also hate when people flip channels, especially when they give the excuse that "we'll only miss a couple of plays"...drives me crazy!

Defiance J's picture

I enjoy pounding tallboys at River Watch on game day.

SLVRBLLTS's picture

I watch the big games at home so I don't embarrass myself by either screaming like a little kid when they score or crying like a little kid when they get scored on.
Most importantly, though, a modern pot luck isn't complete without buffalo chicken dip. Good call. 

"Because we couldn't go for three"

Ashtabula's picture

Am I the only one that prefers watching the game alone at home?  I find watching with a group I miss too much of the game.  Plus, then I can remain like a statue in my chair when things are going good for fear I would hurt the team if I readjusted.  Of course, being at the Shoe trumps all!!!

headina's picture

Can't wait for the season. So happy to have tickets for THE GAME this year! As well as @IU and UAB


BuckeyeVet's picture

Anyone know a place in Washington state that has a good alumni crowd? Asking for my brother who lives SE of Seattle around Auburn & Enumclaw.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

"The recipient of Oyster's ONLY down vote".

BuckeyeGrl5's picture

Sport Restaurant and Bar is the official Buckeye alumni bar in Washington.  Its in downtown Seattle across the street from the Space Needle.  I know its kinda far from the Auburn area, but its worth it to hang out with a bunch of Buckeyes. 
I will be out of town in Minneapolis.  Anyone know of a good bar around St Paul area that has BTN?

"I love football.  I think its the most wonderful game in the world and I despise to lose" - Woody Hayes

USMCBUCKEYE82's picture

Yes I use to live on the Sammamish Plateau, part of Issaquah. I was and still am not an Alumni NOT YET. But I woud get invited to Sport Restaurant & Bar with Buckeye Alumni to watch the games. They have a huge turnout. It is across from the Needle, you will want to park in Fisher Plaza. You can email a great man named Steven Hastings. Tell him A. J. White gave you the email address. He may remember me, he may not. Email me at and I will give you his email adress. It is his work email so I really do not want to publish it in public.
Another place is the Munchbar in Bellevue, WA. It is in Bellevue Square. I can get you info on how to get into contact with these guys as well. I miss watching games out there with those guys.

CowCat's picture

The Sport is a good scene, especially for prime time games.  If it's a morning game you have to get there early to get a seat.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

O-H-I-Owe-U's picture

I'm thinking of adding a Bourban Meyer to my game day routine. The Florida version was something like 3 shots bourbon, 1 shot lime juice on the rocks in a pint glass. We might have to evolve that a bit. 

BuckeyePride's picture

I like the bourbon Meyer idea!^^

How Firm Thy Friendship....

buckeyedude's picture

I hate to rain on this parade, but Hurricane Isaac might be up to Ohio by Saturday. Just rain. Take rain gear.



One Bad Buckeye's picture

Oh man, don't even get me started....No matter what I watch the game with my two boxers, one of which  is the "One Bad Buckeye" in my avatar photo.  But depending on the weather I have an awesome tailgate spot I can go to at the northwest corner of the shoe where there's burgers, brats, nachos and of course beer. There's nothing like watching the game with fellow osu grads, beer, football, food and of course me dags.  My wife even gets in on the action even though she's a Jersey girl, she grown to accept what happens in an Ohio household on fall saturdays.  
@SLVRBLLTS...I'm with you buddy, I have to tone it back a bit when others are around, especially my inlaws from Jersey.....they just dont get it, God love 'em.  

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

aweisone's picture

I'll be heading up to Cbus with my ladyfriend for the UCF game. What time should I get to Cbus in order to get into the bars?

cjrunsforbeer's picture

I've never been to a skull session but want to take my two sons to it on Saturday. Anyone have a recommendation for what time to get there? Is 9:30 good? Thanks!

Pam's picture

One thing you can do is go to Champs which is close to the stadium. They have breakfast with a Bloody Mary bar. They will give you a ticket so you can park your car there all day for free. 9:30 is about right for getting to SJA.

NYCBuckeye's picture

On the note of hitting a Buckeye bar (or a big 10 bar for that matter)--does anyone know of a good place in Manhattan to catch the Bucks play? Just moved here from Columbus a few months ago

Pam's picture

There is a thread already started on Stout's, a Buckeye bar in NYC near MSG.