Ohio State football is celebrating a century at the Horseshoe this year. In recognition of that, The Columbus Dispatch will be sharing special Ohio Stadium content throughout this week.
You wouldn't think Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald would enjoy coming to Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes are the only Big Ten team Fitzgerald, who is 0-8 overall against OSU, has never beaten. Two of those losses occurred in Columbus – a 24-20 heartbreaker in 2016 and a 58-7 laugher in 2007. As a player for the Wildcats, he fell twice to the Buckeyes, including a 51-3 road loss in 1993. He, therefore, knows that playing against Ohio State is a daunting prospect.
But when it comes to visiting the Horseshoe? He appreciates the experience so much, he says he's even watched games there as a fan.
"I just think the pageantry kind of reminds you of when you watch "Gladiator," he said. "You know, kind of one of those Roman Colesium-type deals. ... It's a great place to play. A cathedral of college football."
Avery Young, a Rutgers safety, has played against OSU several times and had similarly high praise. He raved that, "You can feel the history. ... It’s a historic stadium. It’s a very nice venue."
And those are two of the visitors.
Imagine what it's like playing there every home game. Imagine knowing what you achieve there will forever echo between those concrete walls. Imagine the sound of more than 100,000 fans cresting as you head to the end zone or make a fourth-down stand.
"Oh, man," former Ohio State offensive lineman Jim Lachey said. "My first game, I don't think my feet hit the ground until the first quarter. I was, like, floating."
The Buckeyes have an all-time record of 467-111-19 in their home games, and the school claims 8 national championships.
Quarterback Rex Kern helped lead Ohio State to one of those titles in 1968.
"It kind of gives you goosebumps," said Kern of playing at Ohio Stadium. "What a thrill it was."
What is Kern's favorite memory of what was home for him during his time as Ohio State's signal caller? Hear that and the recollections of other Buckeyes below:
Ryan Day (2017-present)
Day joined coach Urban Meyer's staff as offensive coordinator in 2017, having served as the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers the year before. He took over as Ohio State's full-time coach in 2019 and has accumulated a 39-4 record (23-1 at home) since then.
Cardale Jones (2012-2015)
Jones is most well known for what he did at the end of the 2014 season, coming in for an injured J.T. Barrett during a 42-28 win over Michigan, guiding a team in desperate need of a blowout win in the Big Ten Championship game to a 59-0 dismantling of Wisconsin, and then victories over Alabama and Oregon to win the first-ever College Football Playoff.
Joshua Perry (2012-2015)
Perry was a three-year starter for the Buckeyes and a member of the 2014 national championship team. During his senior season, he led the team with 124 tackles and he had three tackles.
Jim Tressel (2001-10)
Jim Tressel won a national championship in just his second year as Ohio State's head coach. It was one of the most memorable seasons in Ohio State history. However, his favorite memory of Ohio Stadium, shared by 97.1 The Fan radio personality and former Buckeye linebacker Bobby Carpenter, happened before Tressel ever officially took the helm at OSU.
Jim Lachey (1981-84)
Jim Lachey's blocking in 1984 helped enable running back Keith Byars to lead the nation with 1,764 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. It also earned the guard All-American honors. The Chargers made Lachey the No. 12 overall pick in the 1985 draft, and he went on to be named an All-Pro nine times.
Cornelius Green (1973-76)
Green, who went 31-2-1 in regular season games and who ran for 100-plus yards four times during his career, was the first Black starting quarterback for Ohio State. The 1975 winner of the Silver Football Award, which goes to the best player in the Big Ten, Green is also an inductee into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame as a result of playing in the game four times (1973-76), three as a starting signal caller.
Archie Griffin (1972-75)
Most famous for being college football's only two-time Heisman winner, Griffin also holds the NCAA record with 31 straight games in which he gained 100-plus yards rushing, and he's the only player to start in four straight Rose Bowls. Griffin showed his promise early, running for a then-school record 239 yards in the second game of his freshman season, a 29-14 win over North Carolina. He then became the first OSU sophomore to run for 1,000 or more yards. By his junior and season campaigns, the Columbus native was garnering All-American honors.
Rex Kern (1968-70)
Kern went 27-2 as a starting quarterback for Ohio State and won the 1968 national championship by beating Heisman winner O.J. Simpson and his teammates at USC 27-16. Kern was also a part of two Big Ten titles. His favorite memory of Ohio Stadium is what he believes to be a pivotal moment for the program, one that led to OSU embracing a more improvisational and pass-oriented offense.
Ohio Stadium on verge of another milestone
The 600th game at Ohio Stadium is coming up when OSU takes on rival Michigan on November 26.
"It's wild, especially when I think in today's day and age where we're chasing newer, we're chasing better, we're chasing state of the art," said ex-Buckeye linebacker and now BTN broadcaster Joshua Perry. "A lot of times, people would say, 'Let's scrap this one and go do something else.' Like the Chicago Bears right now are getting ready to scrap Soldier Field. I mean, this is one of the iconic stadiums in the NFL. But everything that has gone on with (Ohio Stadium) is to preserve and enhance that building specifically, and I think that's really important."