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Ohio Stadium night games bring excitement, record crowds

Night games at Ohio Stadium used to be a rare occurrence for the Ohio State football team. But since coach Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus, they have become the norm.

Before Meyer’s arrival in 2012, Ohio Stadium had seen just 11 total night games in its existence — the first coming in 1985 when the Buckeyes beat the University of Pittsburgh, 10-7.

Since Meyer has taken the reigns, the Buckeyes have appeared in three prime-time home games, with three more scheduled this season (Virginia Tech, Cincinnati and Illinois) — the most in school history for one season.

Meyer said Monday that he, along with fans and players alike, gets enthusiastic when the lights come on in Ohio Stadium.

“Night game, Ohio State-style, which (is) very unique. Our players are excited. Our fans are excited about it,” Meyer said.

Ohio Stadium got a makeover during its offseason that’s set to wrap up soon, and should make it more accessible for night games.

The stadium is undergoing a project that is slated to cost $13.7 million and is set to see the addition of 2,600 seats to the south stands, the installation of permanent lighting around the stadium for night games and the final stages of a waterproofing project on select parts of A-deck. The project is scheduled to be completed Friday.

Additionally, OSU installed a new turf field in the stadium as part of a separate $1.7 million project that saw four new fields installed at multiple OSU facilities.

With the additional seating, OSU is expecting to be able to seat a record crowd, as the stadium capacity jumped from 102,329 to 104,944.

The standing record crowd for a game at Ohio Stadium is 106,102 during an Oct. 6, 2012, game in which OSU defeated Nebraska, 63-38. According to an OSU press release, Ohio Stadium is expected to hold somewhere around, or even more than, 108,000 people Saturday night against Virginia Tech, which includes stadium workers, media members and other non-ticketed attendees.

OSU played in front of just 57,579 against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore last week.

Junior offensive lineman Taylor Decker said Monday that the experience of playing a night game in Ohio Stadium is unlike any other.

“There’s nothing like playing here at night. Nothing like it,” Decker said. “The stadium is going to be packed. It’s going to be loud. Fireworks, lights, it’s just an awesome environment and if you can’t get amped up for that, I don’t know what can excite you for a game.”

Redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee, who made arguably the biggest play of OSU’s young season by returning a Navy fumble 61 yards for a score last week, said he is looking forward to playing in his first game in Ohio Stadium this season.

“We’re excited. We are very excited. We love playing under the lights, especially for those fans,” Lee said. “It is a prime-time game, there’s a great team coming in, and we are just ready to go get the job done.”

The Hokies will likely be playing in front of the biggest crowd in their football program’s history. The largest crowd Virginia Tech has ever seen was in front of 92,739 during a game Sept. 8, 2007, at Tiger Stadium against LSU.

LSU won, 48-7, in that game.

The last night game played at Ohio Stadium was Oct. 26 when OSU won against Penn State, 63-14.

OSU has won its last five night games at Ohio Stadium, with the most recent loss coming against USC in 2009, a game that attracted the second-largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history with 106,033. OSU lost, 18-15.

The Buckeyes and Hokies are scheduled to play for the first time in the two schools’ histories at 8 p.m on Saturday.

One comment

  1. ANY big time game for OSU should be in prime time under the lights! It makes home field advantage that much better! Go Bucks!

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