When eighth-ranked Ohio State takes the field Saturday against Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes will run out of a brand new tunnel in front of what likely will be a new Ohio Stadium-record crowd.
It's a primetime showing against the Hokies which will have countless recruits and more than likely feature NBA superstar LeBron James on the sidelines. Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday this weekend's matchup with Virginia Tech is "probably the biggest weekend of the year" in terms of recruiting.
"A night game at Ohio Stadium is awesome," Meyer said. "I remember back one day when I was here in 1986 or 1987 when they first started playing them and then last year was magical. We had Penn State and Wisconsin at night and it was one of the greatest environments I've ever experienced."
"I know our fans and our players feel even stronger than I do about it so that came up in our locker room about the night game and we're very appreciative about probably the largest Buckeye crowd to ever watch a game in that stadium."
Meyer has yet to lose a game at Ohio Stadium as head coach of the Buckeyes. In fact, he's yet to lose a regular-season game.
But the Hokies and their stingy defense will no doubt provide Ohio State with a difficult challenge. Meyer and the Buckeyes are hopeful playing at home under the lights will give them an extra boost.
“There’s always added juice at night and if you’ve never been in the stadium at night like some of the young guys and teams rolling into town it’s just a crazy experience," linebacker Joshua Perry said. "They added more seats in the stadium so I’m really excited about that and we’ve got kind of a tunnel to run out of now when we’re coming out of the locker room so that’ll be fun. You just get out there and you see all the fireworks going off and everybody’s hyped up, you gotta go out there and play assignment football still."
Perry was referring the nearly 2,600 added seats to the stadium which will increase the capacity from 102,329 to 104,851. Additionally, Ohio Stadium will feature permanent lights for the first time and the Buckeyes will also have a new tunnel to make their way onto the field.
“We’re very excited. We love playing under the lights, especially for the fans," linebacker Darron Lee said. "This is a primetime game, we’ve got a great team coming in and we’re just ready to go get the job done.”
Prior to Meyer's arrival, there had been just 11 night games played at Ohio Stadium with the first coming in 1985. Meyer has gone 3-0 thus far under the lights at home and the Buckeyes have three games scheduled for nighttime kickoffs this season. In addition to the Hokies, Ohio State will also play Cincinnati and Illinois under the lights.
Virginia Tech presents a difficult challenge for the Buckeyes and for Meyer to remain unbeaten at home and in regular-season games, the added edge from the crowd could play a role.
“There’s nothing like playing here at night, nothing like it," offensive tackle Taylor Decker said. "The city is gonna be packed, it’s gonna be loud and you know, fireworks, lights. It’s just an awesome environment and if you can’t get amped up for that then I don’t know what can excite you for a game."
"It was kind of weird not playing our first game at home, I’ll be honest. I always like traveling, but it was different. I can’t wait to come home, get back to our fans, go on the walk before the game and see everybody and just when we run out on that field it’s gonna explode.”