Beat Michigan Week is the most exciting time of the football season, regardless of either team's record. The rivalry is historically one of the biggest and best in all of sports and something that means so much to so many people. For some of us it was our last game in the 'Shoe, and for others it was the week you realize you have made the right decision about the school you have chosen. For me it has been all of that and so much more. Being from Michigan, I think I hear a little bit more than most students here. But I have been lucky enough to hold bragging rights for the entire time I've been at Ohio State.
Monday and Tuesday started off like any other week; definitely different than most Michigan weeks I have experienced. Usually by Monday or Tuesday I have received many calls from my friends "up north." But I guess with the not so glamorous season Michigan was having, they didn't have much to say.
By Wednesday, all of Columbus must have realized it was Michigan Week. Campus seemed a little more energetic and I finally received my first phone call from my cousin who attends Michigan. He told me he had been trying to find the right angle to take, but the only thing he really said was, "try not to beat us too badly," and that he, "surrendered."
The rest of Wednesday was filled with different functions all around Columbus. My event was a pep rally at the Buckeye Caf. As my teammates and I entered the room, the alumni band was playing the infamous "We Don't Give A Damn for the Whole State of Michigan" song. Finally it hit me too, it was Beat Michigan Week.
Thursday night is a night of mayhem. It's the night when our school spirit and tradition at Ohio State is undoubtedly strong. Thousands of students jump in Mirror Lake when the temperature is below freezing. This year seemed to be the coldest yet with a temperature of 20 degrees and although my friends and I were planning on making the leap, we chickened out when we saw the snow covering our cars that evening. Once was enough for me, in 2006, when the teams were 1 and 2 and the temperature wasn't nearly as low. But my roommate, a brave soul who has jumped every year couldn't break the tradition. So I went down there with her for moral support.
If you have never been to Mirror Lake the Thursday before the Ohio State-Michigan game, a visit might be in order. It is an indescribable sight where nothing you see is surprising. The lake is completely packed with students who feel obligated to make the jump purely because of tradition and the hatred they have for Michigan. I think you hear more O-H's than on game day, and "We Don't Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan" song is belted out by ... well, everyone.
One would think that it's a holiday in Columbus the Friday before the game. No one seemed to be at work, for tailgating appeared to have started a day early. Around 10 a.m. campus was already covered with jerseys and the festivities were beginning.
Friday, I went back to the Buckeye Caf for the Agonis luncheon. It's an event that happens every Friday of each home Buckeye football game. It features a Buckeye affiliated speaker that talks about the upcoming game. Agonis also highlights high school athletes who have had great achievements throughout their season. At this particular luncheon, Art Schlichter, Ohio State quarterback from 1978 until 1981, talked about his time at Ohio State. He told stories about his Michigan game experiences and the two pairs of gold pants he received in those years. He also had the crowd rolling with his Woody Hayes tales.
Later that evening, a group of us attended the "Go Bucks, Beat Blue!" rally on the Wexner property. The Wexner barn was decorated almost identical to the 'Shoe, with a football field, bleacher seats, and even the stain glass opening of the rotunda. We performed all the traditional Ohio State songs with the marching band. President Gordon Gee, Gene Smith and Coach Jim Tressel all gave encouraging speeches to get everyone fired up for the big game. To end the rally the Glee Club sang our ever-legendary "Carmen Ohio."
After the "Go Bucks, Beat Blue!" event I came home and watched "Michigan vs. Ohio State: The Rivalry" on television, just to really value the history of these great college football teams. I went to sleep excited for the next day, knowing that anything could happen.
Michigan game. The game talked about all year. The final game of the regular season and for many of us, the last game in the 'Shoe as proud Ohio State student-athletes. We had to arrive that morning at the French Fieldhouse at 8 a.m. to prepare for game day. We started the morning by being a part of a Columbus tourist video. The segment was brief and only required us to help the hosts by leading the "OH-IO" cheer. After that was through we went over pre-game material and warmed up our skill set.
For pre-game, we separated into four groups and attended different tailgates and affairs. My group went to the president's brunch at the Drake Performance and Event Center where we got to meet and greet with the guests and then, of course, perform with the marching band before President Gee gave his pre-game speech.
Around 10:30 we got back to the grassy knoll, where we take pictures and perform before heading into the game. But, because of the cold weather we didn't do too much. Instead we got extra time with friends and family.
At 11:15, we led the marching band into the stadium, which is a game day ritual. Fans line up on either side just to get a glimpse of the marching band before they take the field. Everyone was cheering and waving, even the people already in the stadium come over to the rotunda just to watch and wave to us. Before going down the ramp, we all have a team break at the top. Because it was the last time entering Ohio Stadium most of us were pretty emotional. Entering the field, holding on to my best friends, tears were running down our faces. And the tears really didn't stop until the game began.
The game started and the upset Michigan was hoping for looked to be a possibility for a brief second with an interception thrown within the first drive of the game. But once the defense entered the game and completely shut them down, we knew exactly what kind of game these seniors were playing. The Buckeyes dominated with one exciting play or stop after the next and the team was victorious with the 42-7 win over Michigan. The team made Buckeye history with five wins in a row, making it the longest winning streak against Michigan in the 105-year, storied rivalry. For my last game in Ohio Stadium, I couldn't ask for more. I'll never forget the memorable moments I've had in the notorious 'Shoe.
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