Night Games Bring Special Juice to Schedule
By Patrick Murphy
Whether an Ohio State supporter or not, the experience of attending a game in The Horseshoe is always memorable, and more likely than not leaves attendees with stories and memories of each experience at the Horseshoe.
That phenomenon is being taken to a new level with an outbreak of night games on the OSU football schedule. The Buckeyes will host both Wisconsin and Penn State with 8:00 PM kickoff times this season. They will also kick off at 7:00 PM for a road games vs. California and at 8:00 PM on the road vs. Northwestern.
Night games make for a great game day for fans.
Noon games mean people must get up earlier and make their commute to the banks of the Olentangy. Later kickoffs – specifically night games – allow for a more normal wakeup and departure time, and more time to "prep" for the game.
No group benefits more from the additional "prep" time than the student body. Major college football campuses turn into parties on game days as those attending take a break from studying to get ready to support their team. Sure, the full day of tailgating brings a little rowdiness, but there is no denying the atmosphere it creates.
While the Horseshoe is a difficult place to play no matter the time of day, at night it becomes a fortress where over 106,000 fans stand and scream the Buckeyes to victory.
Recently, Urban Meyer stated that the atmosphere at night games in Ohio Stadium is “magical.” To those who have experienced it, this is exactly the word to use.
The artificial light that shines down on the gray helmets and scarlet jerseys gives the game a different feel, a different meaning. The fans present feel as if these young men that don these uniforms can do anything and they will support these men until the end.
This is the magic in which Meyer speaks. The passion and energy come out at night.
Playing at night gives the Buckeyes an edge on the field. It also gives them an unexpected edge in the recruiting wars as well, if for no other reason than it is much easier to schedule a recruit on a visit for a night game.
“The earlier games are a hard time,” Meyer said this week. “I didn’t really realize that, but it’s hard to get guys here because you’re leaving at 6 AM, 7 AM, after a Friday night football game.”
Meyer knows that in order to win you must recruit the best players. In order to get them, you must get them on campus. Part of that is making it easy for them to get there on Buckeye game day after their high school games the night previous, and night games do just that.
You also want to leave them with something to remember, the “wow” factor, which is something that is evident at the Horseshoe, especially at night.
Even if recruits can't come to the stadium, there is still a recruiting advantage with night games because night games are generally televised nationally and there is less competition to compete for the high school players’ attention.
This season the Buckeyes will play two night games at home. Future schedules have the potential for more. This does not include a potential Big Ten title game and bowl games ahead.
Ohio Stadium is a sanctuary of college football and brings excitement and history whenever there is a game. In today’s game though, things are most exciting when the sun goes down.
Meyer loves it, the students love it, the players love it. After all, what’s not to love?