The streets of Columbus surrounding Ohio Stadium Saturday morning were packed with Ohio State fans wearing scarlet and gray. They wore jerseys of various Buckeye players, from past stars such as Troy Smith, Eddie George and Andy Katzenmoyer, to present stars like James Laurinaitis.
Vendors lined the streets. Some sold Ohio State clothing and memorabilia; others sold food. In the many parking lots around the stadium, tailgaters were almost as frequent as cars.
However, even though the Buckeyes had clearly overwhelming support, pockets of Kent State fans could be found wearing blue and gold.
“I like Kent State, so obviously I’m going to support Kent State,” junior secondary education major Brett Hodros said. He stuck out from scarlet-clad Ohio State fans with his gold shirt that proclaimed the Kent State football slogan, “Every Minute.”
While most Kent State home games begin later in the afternoon, the noon starting time Saturday didn’t faze some Kent State students.
“We actually got here at 8 (a.m.),” said Jackie Rager, a junior fashion merchandising major who wore a blue and gold ribbon in her hair to offset her Troy Smith jersey. ” . We were walking around – there were actually a lot of people down here. I didn’t think there would be that many people at the Ohio State (vs.) Kent game.”
One Ohio State fan could be overheard predicting a large victory for the Buckeyes, asking his friend whether Kent State was a “welding school.”
A Kent State fan tailgating across the street from The Ohio State Medical Center made a different prediction.
“Even though OSU is ranked No. 3 and Kent State’s not ranked at all, (sophomore running back) Eugene Jarvis is going to do the Heisman (pose),” freshman physical education and health major John Bryant said. ” . He’s going to get 100 yards on OSU and lead Kent State to a touchdown victory.”
By the time most fans had entered the stadium, the Ohio State marching band was executing its famous formation, “The Incomparable Script Ohio.”
After the Buckeyes won the coin toss and elected to receive, the Ohio State fans in attendance — numbering more than 100,000 — did the “O-H-I-O” chant.
“Coming out, if you’re not pumped for this game, then I don’t think you’re ready for college football,” Jarvis said. “Coming out — the excitement — everyone’s adrenaline was pumping. We just wanted to go out here and play college football.”
The Buckeye faithful got louder when Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Brian Hartline on the Buckeyes’ first drive.
When the Flashes responded by driving the ball down to the Ohio State 25-yard-line, fans in the Block “O” behind the end zone, a large student group, began waving white towels and making more noise.
The resulting three downs for the Flashes resulted in a loss of 12 yards, and Kent State wouldn’t drive so deep into Ohio State territory again until the fourth quarter, when the game was well out of hand.
Many Ohio State fans left late in the third quarter with the Buckeyes up big, but the fans remaining booed when Kent State coach Doug Martin attempted a field goal late in the fourth quarter with the Flashes down 48-0.
When sophomore Nate Reed’s 34-yard kick went through, the Kent State fans who were still at the game cheered.
Ultimately, the Buckeye faithful had the final cheer after OSU ran the clock out, and Ohio State coach Jim Tressel gathered his team into the end zone for the singing of “Carmen Ohio,” Ohio State’s alma mater.
Despite the loss, the atmosphere at the game wouldn’t be forgotten for some Kent State players.
“This is why we play football — atmospheres like this,” Kent State senior defensive tackle Colin Ferrell said. “One hundred and however many thousand — that’s what we dream about as kids.”
Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected]