. Enemy territory, Buckeye hospitality as Ohio State rallies to beat Cal : Budget Travel Adventures

Enemy territory, Buckeye hospitality as Ohio State rallies to beat Cal

Ohio Stadium Columbus Ohio State Buckeyes The HorseshoeThis was one was expected to be a blowout.  A few friends from Cal came to this game and started drowning their sorrows on Friday night before the game started.  However, Buckeye hospitality and a great effort by Cal were the highlights of this match up between Pac 12 and B1G (Big Ten) teams as Ohio State scored late to beat Cal 35-28 at The Horseshoe.

For me, this was game two of the College Football Travel Tour with Expedia.  My dream series began in Ireland with the Emerald Isle Classic with Notre Dame and Navy.  However, this week took me to another historic college football program – Ohio State.

Seeing a football game at The Horseshoe in Ohio Stadium is an experience. O-H-I-O met California on the field.  However, would there be a clash of cultures in this Midwestern hotbed of college football passion?

Buckeye hospitality welcomes the Cal Bears

Brutus Buckeye Cal football fans College Football Travel Tour

Brutus Buckeye welcomes Cal fans (and me)

The game wasn’t expected to be close.  I also didn’t expect Ohio State Buckeye fans to be so kind and welcoming.  While I wasn’t a Cal or Ohio State fan, hanging out with Cal friends Kevin and Cassie (who write about travel on their Ever in Transit travel blog) and their Cal brethren allowed me to experience how the Buckeyes treated opposing fans.

Ohio State Cal fans

Cal fans pose for a photo with a passionate Buckeye fan

While Cal shares the same colors as Michigan, this wasn’t a hated rival.  On Friday night, Austin and his sister Bailey came up to our table at The Little Bar and welcomed us to Columbus.  Brutus the Buckeye shook Kevin’s hand.  Cal fans and Ohio State fans posed together for photos.  We were treated with kindness rather than contempt.

I heard a lot about the passion of Ohio State fans.  However, I never expected such a welcoming, warm attitude.  At the game and in the stands, Buckeye fans were nothing but gracious and respectful.  thought Buckeye Nation and passion would mean hostility and disharmony from the fans.

After a few days in Ireland, the Irish people were friendly.  I wasn’t so sure that Ohio State fans would be as kind.  I was wrong.  Ohio State fans surprised me.  They welcomed Cal fans and this college football fan with open arms.

On the field, Ohio State was almost too welcoming.

Ohio State rallies to beat Cal 35-28

Ohio State rolled to an early 20-7 lead over Cal before the offense sputtered in the second quarter.  Cal’s running back Brandon Bigelow’s ran 81 yards for a touchdown – the longest run by an opponent in the history of The Horsehoe.  And it put closed the gap to 20-14 early in the third quarter.

After halftime, Cal came from behind to take the lead early in the fourth quarter 21-20.  Jake Stoneburner’s TD catch came courtesy of Braxton Miller – a la Tim Tebow.  Miller’s two point conversion made the score 28-21.

Ohio State offense Cal defenseCal stormed right back with a 59 yard TD run by Bigelow tied the game at 28 with a little over 8 minutes left in the game.  Busted coverage left Devin Smith open for a 72 yard touchdown with a little over 3 minutes left as Ohio State took the lead 35-28.  Three missed field goals and a late stand by Ohio State’s defense helped them pull out the win.

Braxton Miller threw for 249 yards and 4 TDs and put his name in the Heisman race.  However, an exposed Ohio State defense gave up 512 yards of offense to a Cal Bears team that had struggled in its first two games.  A number of stupid penalties kept Cal on the field and in the game as well.

After the game Ohio State coach Urban Meyer wasn’t happy.  He was disappointed and frustrated with the way his team played.  He was relieved to get the win.  However, the defense didn’t play like an Ohio State defense should.

A once in a lifetime experience

Thanks to Ohio State Sports Information Director Jerry Emig, I was given a press pass for Ohio State – Cal game.  I spent Saturday roaming the field, taking photos on the sidelines, and getting up close and personal with college football in a way I will never forget.

I took photos from the camera deck.  I hung out with ESPN sideline reporters, local news reporters and staff, and journalists from all over the country in the press box.  I saw the sweat, the muscles, the speed, the pads, and the size of college football players just a few feet away.  I participated in my first press conference with one of the best coaches in college football at one of the most storied college football programs.

Script Ohio TBDBITLI watched “The Best Damn Band In The Land” and saw the dotting of the “I” in Ohio.  After this game, I never want to sit in a seat again.  I love being on the field.  I felt the ground shake and had ringing in my ears as the crowd roared.  I experienced the passion of Ohio State tailgating and even met college basketball hall of fame coach Bobby Knight.

This may not be the greatest day I’ve ever had.  However, this was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in sports.  There’s a reason Columbus, Ohio was named one of the top college towns in the US.

To get a little perspective on my day, here are a few photos from my day at Ohio Stadium as Ohio State beat Cal 35-28.

Read more stories, travel tips, game experiences, and favorite places from my College Football Travel Tour.  Check out my unique travel guides on Expedia’s College Football Page and get some great deals as a college football fan.

Santa Claus Buckeye fan

Santa Clause told me Michigan fans won’t even get a lump of coal this year

Ohio State Band skull sessions

Skull session for the Ohio State Marching Band

Coach Bobby Knight Ohio State

Legendary Hall of Fame coach Bobby Knight

Tailgating Varsity Club Columbus

Tailgating at The Varsity Club

Cal OSU game The Horseshoe

Cal cheerleaders

Cal cheerleaders

Ohio State football players Carmen Ohio

Ohio State football players sing Carmen Ohio

Urban Meyer press conference cameras

The cameras get ready for the Urban Meyer press conference

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller

Enjoy more college football, hiking, and travel videos on the Budget Travel Adventures YouTube page.

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Filed Under: CaliforniaCollege Football Travel TourOhio State University


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  1. Cassie says:

    “Drowning our sorrows on Friday night before the game started”… so true! :)

    It was great to see you Jeremy, can’t wait to show you around Berkeley next year!

    • Yes, too bad I can’t go to Berkeley this year. I think I am booked all of November and only have the last weekend in October free and Cal’s not at home. Washington game may be possible but probably not. Hopefully, next year for sure.

      And hey, Cal played much better than you or Kevin thought they would! :)

  2. Even I would want to be watching the game from the sideline! What a fantastic opportunity. My dad is from Ohio so I have been rooting for the Buckeyes for years unless they’re playing USC (they do play each other don’t they :) )

    • They don’t play each other very often. I think they generally play if both teams are in the Rose Bowl but I would have to check and see when they last played. It was a great experience being on the sideline (I get to do it again this weekend!).

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