Next in a series from Road to CFB of first-hand game day experiences at stadiums across the country:
Eight months without football is a long time. Each year, I make it to a spring exhibition game to get my college football fix and get a glimpse of some of the biggest upcoming stars. This year, I headed to Columbus for the Ohio State spring game, held on April 16.
While scrimmages offer a lighter fare in terms of game day, Ohio State takes theirs seriously.
2022 Ohio State Spring Game
Last year, I dropped by Baylor in Waco, Texas, for their Green & Gold Game. I was in attendance with maybe 1,000 others and that's being generous.
Ohio State's exhibition featured over 60,000 fans. 60,007, to be exact, one of many tributes to quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who had died tragically in an accident just weeks prior. The players wore a DH sticker on their helmets, there were two moments of silence, and the offense lined up without a quarterback for the final play of the half. Heisman contender CJ Stroud– who wears No. 7 for the Buckeyes– featured HASKINS JR. on his nameplate, the only player to wear one this day.
Stroud was coming off over 4,400 yards and 44 touchdowns the year before. Over 25% of those yards were thrown to superstar receiver in the making, Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The last time JSN stepped on a football field, he exploded for 15 receptions, nearly 350 yards, and three touchdowns in the Rose Bowl game.
The crowd got what they came for: Stroud tossed a 29-yard touchdown to JSN in the opening possession.
The Game's Great, But...
I hadn't been to Ohio Stadium since 2017, where the Buckeyes handled Maryland 62-14 in front of over 100,000 fans. I'm born and raised a diehard Buckeye fan. For once, I got to envelope myself in the fandom and excitement for my team. I even got to sport a jersey.
Not typical of spring games, Ohio State was sure to feature their band, "The Best Damn Band In The Land." They executed a terrific Van Halen halftime show that included moving cars and stick figures made up by the band.
Buckeye greats like Justin Fields, Orlando Pace, Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and more made appearances. Ohio State also recognized four National Championship teams, including women's ice hockey, pistol, synchronized swimming, and men's gymnastics.
It was a dreary Ohio day, highs topping out around 50º. It wasn't sunny and the breeze made it downright miserable to exist in. But this is football; and not just any football, Ohio State football. And best of all, my dad joined me on this one.
Again, fanfare is light for these scrimmages, but I was beyond thrilled to chalk up the first game of the 2022 Road to CFB campaign.
It won't be the last one at Ohio Stadium this year.
Road to CFB
Established in 2017, I've been on a quest to experience a game day at all 131 FBS stadiums in the country. Back in October– along with some friends– I experienced a TCU game day.
It was such a hit with you the reader that I'll be documenting all of my travels this fall right here at KillerFrogs (but more on that later this summer).
In the meantime, check out all 104 college football stadiums I've been to so far on Instagram.
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