In lieu of “Shots From The ‘Shoe” this week, here’s what the day was like for Ohio State fans as the team was on the road. We’ve covered the ins and outs on the field, this is more of a travelogue from gameday.
Seemingly like the rest of Buckeye Nation, I made the trek north to the Bay Area for an amazing weekend of college football. I actually hesitate to call this “Behind Enemy Lines”, as Berkeley seemed to have turned into Columbus west for the better part of Friday and Saturday.
The atmosphere was energized… a gorgeous fall day, the fog burned off around 11:30 or so and we spent the afternoon in sun and temperatures around the high 70s. Even from blocks away, you could tell that Ohio State fans would be well represented in the newly renovated Memorial Stadium.
As you may have heard, Cal is not configured for much “tailgating” in the traditional sense. I guess they’d much rather have another organic chai shop than creating accessible parking that the pre-game festivities would require. Nevertheless, folks found a way.
On Friday, I’d gone by famous Telegraph Avenue with the wife to do some shopping in Berkeley’s well known music and book stores. I chose to “blend in” by wearing my tie-dyed shirt… Buckeye specific, of course. It didn’t take long for me to get severa “O!H!” greetings, as well as a “F***the Buckeyes!” from a moron in blue and gold. Must have been a Michigan exchange students.
Saturday, it was good to see that someone else had my incredible fashion sense.
On gameday, Telegraph now looked much different, with Ohio State fans pouring out of every bar and coffeeshop on the block. Even the places that advertised themselves as “Bear Bars” were filled with Buckeyes pregaming and watching the Alabama/Texas A&M game.
Although, come to think of it, “Bear Bar” may have meant something different than I initially assumed… but the game was on, so it was difficult to tell.
Eventually, we headed past the Fox Sports One area and made the trek up toward Memorial stadium. While The ‘Shoe stands alone in the Columbus skyline, Cal’s stadium is nestled up against a hillside and is only approachable/open from one side. Cal has a beautiful campus, although Buckeye fans were making it clear whose team would own the day.
At the Buckeye Bash alumni event, I was lucky enough to connect with our friend Mekka Don and his team… He was there not only celebrating the great day, but also doing some work with Ohio State for an upcoming event with the Athletic Department. We’ll have more details in the coming weeks, but we’re pretty juiced about this announcement.
Even looking through the tunnel of the stadium, you could tell that Scarlet and Gray would dominate the stands this day.
We were fortunate to have our seats among the players’ families, and right behind Dr. Waters and The Best Damn Band In The Land. Pregame, they joined Coach Mick and the team for Quick Cals… later, we would see how quickly Ohio State wanted to attack Cal.
When the band took the field for pregame, including double Script Ohio, I talked with some of the folks around us about what I’d learned from Charles- that Cal’s band is heavily influenced by TBDBITL due to some shared history. While Cal’s musicians were fine enough if you’re into that type of thing, Ohio State’s band blew them away… as should be expected.
We had seen that Braxton was not in uniform during pre-game work, but the general consensus was “It’s all good… Kenny G has got this”. The first minutes of the game would prove that to be correct- the Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week took the “Quick Cal” mantra to heart and Ohio State scored twice in their first five plays.
By midway through the first quarter (hey, it’s California. That’s early) the student section had finally filled in and the stadium had mostly reached capacity. As you can see, Memorial Stadium puts them at midfield, and has even created a platform in front of them for the cheer squad to use. I was impressed with how coordinated they were for this big game, although this area was pretty much a ghost town mid-way through the third quarter.
A highlight for me was connecting with the family of site favorite Bryce Haynes. I mentioned that I hoped we wouldn’t see much of him in this week’s game, but I think that we ended up with just the right amount of longsnapper and Aussie.
As you know from livechatting with me, I’m pretty pessimistic… a Cooper Years Survivor (I need to go to a meeting). Even up by two or three scores. I couldn’t find myself relaxing to enjoy the game. That being said, Cal’s first two scores were pretty “fluky”- coverage confusion on a deep pass due to two receivers/DBs in the same area; A tunnel screen that was perfectly timed against pressure and included a crushing block.
While early on the Bears chipped away at Ohio State, I was pretty satisfied with the defense’s efforts to make big plays when they were needed. Goff will be a great player in the PAC12, and I’m glad that Cal’s now off of Ohio State’s schedule. That being said, the pressure that Ohio State’s front four got onto the QB stood out to me, particularly given their quick-release philosophy for the passing game.
Plus, I never had a doubt that the Buckeyes would be able to score. While the playcalling seemed conservative at times, the offensive line, Jordan Hall, Dontre Wilson, and Kenny G were in command of the game from the first snap. Imagine if Jordan had kept his footing in the picture above…. it looked like that all afternoon.
As the sun set, and Ohio State continued to grind out their 600+ yards of total offense, you could sense that the remaining, very partisan crowd was enjoying every moment. My wife and I had been chatting all evening with a fan who was seated behind us; I eventually told him that I had an online persona here at tBBC, and was humbled when he said that he was a reader.
So, we enjoyed the rest of the win with tBBC partner West Coast Buckeye and his family; and we all stayed (along with 80% of the Ohio State faithful in the end zone) to sing Carmen Ohio with the team and band.
As we left the stadium, we were able to enjoy an amazing California Sunset. While the sky had turned various shades of blue and gold, the tailgating, the fans, the band, and the scoreboard proved that the day belonged to the Scarlet and Gray.