I love traveling to college football games! I have been to 4 Big Ten stadiums over the years, 5 if you include Rutgers, who’s stadium I visited a few times when they were in the Big East.
Here is how I would rank my five experiences
1. Penn State
10/17/2019 – Penn State vs Michigan
This was incredible. As a neutral football fan, this was the best college football experience of my life. In 2019, I went to the Penn State vs Michigan game, which was played in Primetime on ABC and was the annual Penn State whiteout game. Happy Valley also hosted College Gameday. The whole day was amazing.
Penn State took an early 21-0 lead, and later held on to win 28-21.
My view of one of the final plays.
2. Ohio State
I have been to Columbus twice, both times for Cincinnati games. In 2015, Bearcats trailed 33-28 and were in Ohio State territory before an offensive pass interference call backed them up, ultimately forcing a punt. At that point, the flood gates opened and Cincinnati didn’t score again. Ohio State, would score 17 unanswered on their way to a 50-28 win.
I remember several things from that game
- Joey Bosa broke Gunner Kiel’s ribs
- Chris Moore broke Eli Apple’s soul
- Some RB I had never previously heard of broke out (his name was Ezekiel Elliot and he is now among my favorite NFL players)
- Now former Cincy head coach and current Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville broke my heart
Ohio State fans were mostly polite. Honestly, why wouldn’t they be. They are better than Cincinnati and they know it. We had no bad encounters with fans.
In 2019, Cincinnati lost 42-0 and this tweet is the only thing I remember from the game.
2019 Bearcats went 11-3, winning 9 in a row after this loss, before back-to-back losses to Memphis including the AAC Championship Game, which cost them a spot in the Cotton Bowl.
To be honest, I was underwhelmed. The Big House holds 100,000 people, but compared to Ohio State and Penn State, it sure didn’t feel that way.
Unlike the other two, it was extremely tight in the bleacher seats and there were clearly people hanging out in some sections that didn’t have seats there. It took forever to get into the stadium as there seemed to be minimal entrances and few workers checking tickets so despite heading towards the stadium over 30 minutes early, we would arrive at our seats a few minutes after opening kickoff.
While Ohio State fans were polite, while kicking Cincy’s rear-end, Michigan fans were weird. Michigan scored their first two touchdowns with ease.
For context, Cincinnati’s first 3 possessions included
- 3 plays, punt
- 2 plays, pick six
- 3 plays, punt – blocked and recovered by Michigan
A miserable start is important context for my story about fans’ – after Cincinnati finally got on the board and cheers came out of our section, some people started yelling “scoreboard”. Which in many circumstances is a fair response to an away teams cheers. Except they are Michigan, we were Cincinnati and we scored a touchdown in the Big House, a cool moment!
Cincy did get to within 17-14, after opening the third quarter with a 10-play touchdown drive. But this was a terrible Cincinnati offense and Bearcats ultimately lost 36-14, with Michigan scoring 19 unanswered in the second half.
Obviously, Indiana is not a fair comparison to the other 3 experiences. Especially in 2006, with the Hoosiers having 11 consecutive seasons with a losing record.
I attend Indiana/Michigan in 2006 and the Hoosiers trailed 42-0 at the half. That Michigan team had QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart and WR Mario Manningham. I left at halftime of a rainy game and went to the McDonalds on campus. That’s about my only memory of this game.
I went to 3 Cincinnati games at Rutgers (I went 2-1). From 2006-2010, I went to 5 straight Cincinnati wins over Rutgers.
2007 – coming off a year where Cincinnati upset 7th ranked Rutgers, both teams entered this game ranked in the top 25. Cincinnati won 28-23 after a late defensive stand.
2009 – Bearcats went 12-0 in the 2009 regular season and opened the season at Rutgers on Labor Day night. Cincinnati won 47-15 in the first game at Rutgers’ renovated stadium. Fans were NOT polite. Encountered very rude people, very derogatory comments, which just become more and more entertaining as the scoreboard continues to go up.
2011 – Rutgers won 20-3. I have 2 memories of this day – I sat through a game where Cincinnati didn’t score a touchdown with a