What a long and full day of excitement. Nothing will ever replace or beat my experiences in 2002(I don’t think), but this came very close to being as enjoyble.
There was so much happening after THE Game in 2002 that really the best part that I remember is being on the field with 100,000 screaming fans. I still look at the picture from time to time to play Where’s Waldo and find me. Yesterday will go down as the best day for THE Game because I got to spend it with some good friends and some awesome fans in my section.
Being two hours away and knowing the traffic would be ridiculous, I had to get up at 4:45 to head to meet Gary, Robby and Jerry in Zanesville. We got to our usual lot without any fanfare but we just missed the mayhem. We walked over to Lane Avenue as we usually do to pick up some drinks and a snack or two and saw this ugly thing on the way.
I gave our fearless leader (Mali) a call to see where he was and as fate would have it, he was only about a block away so we met up with him for a few minutes. After seeing him for the first time ever, we went into the 7/11 and got drinks for the brunch that we have with other ushers on D-Deck before the last game of the season. It’s always good food and fun. We headed up the avenue to see Roy and Maurice and check out the DRIVEN tent and see how things were going. Ran into Mali again with his wife, brother Scott, and a friend.
Heading back to the stadium for the brunch and to man our posts, I must say I was not surprised with the traffic but was surprised the area between St. Johns and the Shoe was like a ghost town. Very few booths set up and not at all very many people. The line had started for the Skull session but that was the extent of the crowd around 9am.
The weather was suppose to be nice, but it took a turn for the worse and we had below 30 and snow flurries all day for the game. There was just enough wind to make some of the isle ways unbearable in the stadium but I bundled up, save for my toes and the day was heated anyway.
I still cannot get over what Coach Meyer does with the players after they come back from the skull session and walk across the field and up the ramp to their locker room. Each and every player stops and gets a handshake and a hug from him before going in to get ready for battle. I’m sure on this day, there were plenty of tears here and during the senior walk.
The pregame was definitely one of the most exciting that I have witnessed in the stadium. It was a production that took up the entire field. On one end you had TBDBITL in this season’s tunnel formation and two huge banners at the other end that the Block O has used this season. In between that was probably the biggest Tunnel of Pride i have honestly ever seen.
One things for sure, Coach Meyer and Coach Tressel treated their teams and players like family and it shows when they honor each other. It was difficult to get any good pictures from D-Deck of the seniors walking through, but the best moment had to be when a very emotional John Simon walked out because he obviously could not run, and was in street clothes. As he walked down the tunnel, Coach Meyer met him half way, taking a longer hug with the player he has always said is the heart and soul of this team. They would have to find out if they could do it without him, and they did.
The first quarter ended 10-7 Buckeyes but that would not be the end of the first half highlights in THE Game. What happened in between the first and second quarter surely had to cause ABC to take an extended commercial break. We have all known for some time that the 2002 National Champions would be honored at THE Game. What most didn’t know was exactly how the fans would react. I am here to tell you that if there were people booing? No one heard them as the team walked in a hive from the end line to the goal line.
As the stadium was erupting, the football team took an opportunity, let’s say a split second in their important day to turn and pay homage to the team that won it all ten years ago. As the stadium got louder and louder, the players of that team took the cue and did something I am sure Coach Tressel neither expected or maybe even wanted during this surreal setting. They hoisted him up on their shoulders and showed the rest of the stadium just how much the man meant to that team.
As the fireworks continued through the second quarter and thanks to TBDBITL at halftime, the Buckeyes were down, but not out at halftime 21-20. The TBDBITL did what it always does and presented a show based on classic Disney movies and had some fireworks of their own.
I can only imagine just how fired up the locker room was at halftime. Down one to their most hated rival, and needing something to get going on defense, ther’s no telling which coach got to them. I will put my money on Coach Meyer because the defense came out and pitched a second half shutout and never let the Wolverines past the 50 the entire time.
The Buckeyes did the only scoring, a field goal in the third(28 yards) and one in the fourth(25 yards) Drew Basil may have been the POTG on this day because he nailed a 52 yarder in the first half to bring the Buckeyes within one. Basil was 4/5 on the day and 2/2 for PAT’s. Definitley had a little bit of Tressel ball feel to the day and maybe that was appropriate, since Coach Tressel was on hand. Maybe, Coach Meyer was paying his own homage to the 2002 National Champions? They won games this season a lot like that 2002 team did and he has never been bashful about how he feels about the former coach.
As the game came to a close and it was obviously in hand after the final first down and Coach Meyer throwing a fist into the air and celebrated a big win. The Buckeyes win THE Game and take back what was rightfully theirs in the rivalry, a win.
After the game, we all headed to Average Joe’s in Hillard to get together for a post game dinner with all of the members of tBBC. Not everyone could be there for the event but it was a good timne and nice to finally meet some of our folks face to face. We spend a lot of time with these people on the internet, writing these articles and doing live blog, so it was great seeing everyone and getting a picture to hang in the office at work. Maybe Mali will sign a copy for everybody so we all have an original?!
All in all, one of the best TTUN games that I have experienced. Want to thank the Buckeyes and Coaches for a great season. Hard to believe that as long as we waited to get it going, it seems to have flown by and we got the end result we always want. Undefeated to finish the season! Until next season . . .Go Bucks!!!