Danger signs were abundant on Saturday morning. A depleted opponent with nothing to lose, a must-win situation and even the weather. Is it really November? The atmosphere was festive but reserved, more like USC than a Big Ten opponent missing its starting running back and qb.
Making the rounds, I talked to fans to get a feel for the general mood of the populace. Nervous confidence would be the best description of the prevailing mood; we are going to win, but it won’t be easy.
At one tailgate, a long-time fan told of riding the train to the Rose Bowl, another flipped sausages on a grill as he recounted a half dozen trips to the venerable clash.
After checking my gear in, I lingered around the edge of the stadium, waiting to see if anything good presented itself when the team marched in. The crowd was three deep along the rope that keeps the fans at bay and the ‘shoe cast a shadow over the area. I was admiring the classic facade when an usher held out a rose as the team approached.
To be remembered.
Inside, rising shadows began to engulf the people four deep along the edge of the field as those taking part in the senior day festivities and the usual crowd of pregame celebrants watched the team warm up. Under the north end zone senior parents were getting corsages.
The waning afternoon light cast its golden glow across half the field as the band took the field for Script Ohio. I squeezed between some pre-game sideliners and fired away as the drum major lead the band through their loops. Over the noise I could hear two fans beside me, thrilled to be there and enjoying every second. I thought about fully appreciating the sights and sounds of the game, and appreciated how a lingering sousaphone lined up a near perfect silhouette.
The roar of the crowd built to a crescendo as the team gathered to take the field. After, the senior parents lined up and tribute was paid.
And then it was yawn. The teams knocked each other around for a while to little effect, traded field goals, and generally put on a show best appreciated by fans of defense and inept offense.
Forward progress: Fail.
A few feet up, a few feet forward.
Left right and forward.
Illusion of evasion.
Take a load off, Gibson.
Cat and mouse.
Edds lends a hand.
Finally Saine ran to the right, juked and jived and was helped into the end zone by Iowa linebacker A.J. Edds, who was really trying to stop him but as they tumbled to the ground Saine tumbled into the end zone.
Like a hawk rising from its prey…
Tressel paces. And paces. And paces.
As the third quarter wound down, I was on the Buckeye sideline near the South end zone when Tressel walked past, turned on his heel and walked away. Less than a minute later he was back. He repeated his path a few more times until a TV time out ended and the game resumed.
Pryor on the run.
High steppin’ into the end zone.
Ross Homan, future running back.
As the fourth quarter reached the half-way point, after Herron high-stepped his way into the end zone to put the Buckeyes up 17-10, and Homan made ’em miss during a 21-yard interception return, the place was rocking. The fans did the oh-oh-oh-oh-ooooooh cheer, and I thought that the game reminded me of the USC game. About 10 seconds later it was 24-17 after an Iowa kickoff return. Gulp.
Brace for impact.
It is up and it is…
It was a little tense in the stadium during the overtime coin flip, to say the least. But when the Buckeye defense pulled down Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg for a sack on third down, the place erupted. That, in turn, was tempered when Tressel spent four plays to center the ball for a game winning field goal, and then erupted again when the elder Buckeye Barclay booted a 39-yard field goal to win it.
I don’t know how he snuck the trophy in.
If it is possible.
As the Buckeyes raced across the field to celebrate, I saw a blur beside me and the photographer who had been a few inches away in the end zone was off like a shot. Soon a flood of photographers intent on getting a good celebration shot stormed the field, followed by a crowd of happy fans. By the time I was past the 20 there were forty people between me and the crowd of players gathered on the 50. I gave up any thoughts of joining them and hung around the periphery as fans joined the happy scrum. There were a few players mixed in, but none of them were doing much of anything. Suddenly I had a flash, and headed down to where the team would eventually gather for Carmen Ohio. If I was lucky, I would at least be in the front row when the ushers and cops moved us out of the way.
Roses smell that much sweeter when Carmen Ohio plays.
Reach out and high-five some one.
They never actually moved us anywhere. A few shouldered their way roughly past, but in what seemed like a wink I was face to face with Soloman Torres and a pretty girl who had squeezed to her through the crowd to get under the arm of Torres and another player I didn’t know for Carmen Ohio. And a few feet away was The Ohio State Buckeye, Terrelle Pryor. He had a rose in his mouth. Until he dropped it. Torres reached down and grabbed it and put it back in his mouth. They did Carmen and disappeared into the crowd.
A path formed and the team squeezed through the throng. I forced my way through after the path closed, aided somewhat by a monopod and a gentle poking action, followed by an apology. By the time I had shed my gear under the stands, the ramp to the outside world was shoulder to shoulder, and I rode the wave of jubilation to the post game press conference. The room was packed, warm and full of corny jokes and general jubilation. It was a fine end to the home season.
Above, listen in as Tressel accepts the invite to the Rose Bowl.
Now you can…
Join the OSUAA.
or you could become an OSUAA fan on Facebook.
and I am always down for some fandom too.
Join the Buckeyes in Pasadena by booking a spot in the Official
Ohio State Alumni Bowl Tour