Head Coach Urban Meyer came into his position at Ohio State with the lofty goal of dramatically improving a number of things within the Buckeye football program. Coming off of the worse season in recent Buckeye memory, a sea change was certainly called for, if not completely necessary. College football has become not just a game played on the field; it is a constant game of keeping up with the Joneses (and Mileses and Sabans and even Hokes). From changing the ways the Buckeyes recruit, to how they use Redshirts (read: not at all) to even tweaking how to get on the nerves of our favorite team up North. This is a different breed of Buckeye football, and one that is still changing, even after only 18 months.
One of Meyer's biggest wishes was to have the Big Ten play more night games as a way to bolster recruiting efforts. This is an idea right out of the SEC playbook: night games mean national television and national television means exposure.
Safe to say, Meyer got his wish.
Night games are usually reserved for marquee matchups in college football because they typically mean more. After the typically lengthy Saturday slate of games on any given college football weekend, fans and recruits alike are more than content to sit back and pay the most attention to just one or two games, rather than 40 or 50 games during the day. It is a great strategy for recruiting, and at Ohio State, it offers an incredible opportunity for players to experience an almost unmatched event: a night game in the Horseshoe.
The 'Shoe has played host to only 12* such games in its storied history. Ohio State is 9-3* in those games, and each one of them has been memorable in its own way. Let's look back at those games and see why adding more of them can only be a good thing.
*Note: the NCAA would tell you that it is only officially 11 games because of 2010 not technically counting BUT I WAS AT THAT MARSHALL OPENER, DAMNIT, IT HAPPENED AND WAS AWESOME. So I'm including it.
September 14, 1985
Ohio State 10 - Pittsburgh 7
I'm not going to pretend I remember this one because it was played far too close to my first birthday for me to have formed memories. But I bet Mark May remembers and is salty about it!
September 11, 1993
#16 Ohio State 21 - #12 Washington 12
This is one of the first Ohio State games I remember watching. I was still a young'n at this time, but I got to stay up extra late and watch the Buckeyes in the first "real" night game in The Shoe. Also worth noting: Washington used to be a good team LOL WAT R U DOING STAHP.
August 28, 1997
#9 Ohio State 24 - Wyoming 10
A Thursday, two touchdown win over Wyoming. After winning the Rose Bowl eight months before, a rusty Buckeye squad secured a win and probably started the game singing "Onto the Next One" before that song was fresh in Jay-Z's mind. Yucky, but a win all the same.
September 11, 1999
#13 Ohio State 42 - #14 UCLA 20
Nothing to see here, just another sacrificial Pac-10 lamb coming to the Shoe for a beating, by what turned out to be a really, really crappy Buckeye team.
October 6, 2001
Ohio State 38 - #14 Northwestern 20
The first Big Ten Conference night game in the 'Shoe. I remember watching this game at my high school's homecoming dance. With every other guy in the joint. While all of our girlfriends glared at us from the dance floor. Go Bucks.
August 30, 2003
#2 Ohio State 28 - #17 Washington 9
The reigning national champs open the year in prime time and throttle another ranked Washington outfit. Stop ranking Washington, people, especially if they have to play Ohio State at the beginning of the year.
September 10, 2005
#2 Texas 25 - #4 Ohio State 22
The first of two big time matchup between these schools, this one featuring Vince Young en route to a national championship, and Ryan Hamby en route to being the cause of every single tear silently wept in the 'Shoe after the loss. This one hurt a lot, but was a certain springboard for Texas. True story - after this game, Mack Brown offered Ryan Hamby at safety*.
* = May not have actually happened.
October 25, 2008
#3 Penn State 13 - #9 Ohio State 6
Another heartbreaking loss for the Buckeyes on their home turf. I remember eveything about this game, especially the extended video montages of Joe Paterno's career that ABC poured the viewers' throats all game, all of which seemed like an "In Memorium" tribute, just a few years too early.
September 12, 2009
#3 Southern Cal 18 - #8 Ohio State 15
Ask a Buckeye fan which recent night game is the toughest to swallow, and this game (and the Texas game in 2005) are probably high on the list. The 'Shoe was as loud as ever that night; I remember hearing the cheers all the way in the Arena District. USC's game-winning drive will certainly go down in their long, storied history, and in infamy for Buckeye fans.
September 2, 2010
#2 Ohio State 45 - Marshall 7
The NCAA has vacated this slaughter. Marshall is probably okay with that.
October 29, 2011
Ohio State 33 - #15 Wisconsin 29
After getting beat by a Hail Mary at Michigan State the week before, a determined Badger team came to the 'Shoe angry. ROLL THAT BEAUTIFUL BEAN FOOTAGE:
October 6, 2012
#12 Ohio State 63 - #21 Nebraska 38
This was the game where I became a believer that Ohio State could run the table. Nebraska was supposed to be a favorite for a league title, and came into the game as a slight underdog. Meyer, Braxton Miller and the Buckeye defense, after a dreadful first quarter, flexed every single muscle en route to a rout.
The three loss stretch in 2005, 2008 and 2009 was difficult, but before that and since then, Ohio State was and is undefeated in these home night games. Meyer may have wanted more games like this for recruiting, but the bottom line might just be that Buckeye teams are better in these games. And with home tilts against a still strong Penn State team and the ever hated Badgers, Meyer won't just be getting his national attention he wants, but he'll have a team in a more perfect mindset to deliver a win.