It's here! It may only be a scrimmage between Team Scarlet and Team Gray, but it's the first taste of football in 2016 for the Buckeyes since the Fiesta Bowl and the first chance to see many of the young new players. With so many weapons headed to the NFL this year, there will be a lot of starting roles that need filled, and some of those could be snagged during the spring game.
Head coach Urban Meyer made a plea to Buckeye Nation to fill The 'Shoe with 100,000 fans during this year's spring game. He wants to see how young players react to such a large crowd, and see who might really stand out in the fall.
The Ohio State community will also be honoring former Buckeye legend Will Smith, following his tragic death earlier in the week. There will be a moment of silence in his name, and the players will all be sporting helmet decals in honor of Smith.
What is the Ohio State spring game?
The 2016 LiFE Sports Spring Game, presented by Nationwide, is the annual intrasquad scrimmage between Team Scarlet and Team Gray held at Ohio Stadium, and is set for Saturday, April 16 at 1:30 p.m, and should last about an hour and a half (shorter than a regular season game).
As is tradition, the spring game will be preceded by the "Showdown at the Shoe," the Ohio State men's lacrosse match against rival Michigan. The lacrosse game starts at 11 a.m. and fans are admitted with spring game tickets.
Children ages 6 and under are free in the general admission sections only; everyone in club level seating is required to have a ticket. Current OSU students get in free with a valid Buck-ID, and should enter the stadium through Gate 26.
How similar will this be to a real game?
It definitely isn't your standard football game. There are similarities, in that they will play four quarters of football -- but they're only 10 minutes each -- with clock stoppages allowed in the first-half and utilizing a running clock in the second-half. It may not be a regular-season game, but with Buckeye fans filling The 'Shoe and cheering at the top of their lungs, it certainly feels like fall football.
Urban Meyer likes to take advantage of the unique environment the spring game provides, and is known to make kickers re-try field goal attempts, gradually moving the ball back to test their maximum range. He also likes to try people at different positions, and get players out of their comfort zone in front of a jam-packed stadium. For him, this is when young talent sinks or swims.
How can I watch the spring game?
The Big Ten Network will be broadcasting the spring game Saturday, and will be re-airing the competition eight times through April 21st. The game will also be available for streaming online (and on your tablet and smartphones) on BTN2Go.
You can find BTN on Time Warner Columbus/Delaware on Channel 1333 HD/58 SD, on WOW! at channels 219 HD/87 SD, nationally on DirecTV on channel 610, on DISH on channel 405/410, and on AT&T U-verse channel 1650HD/650.
Former Buckeyes Bobby Carpenter and Glen Mason will be in the booth providing commentary for the game, along with Kevin Kugler doing the play-by-play.
It's not too late to decide to make your way to campus to enjoy the beautiful Columbus weather -- it's actually supposed to be a perfect spring day, with mostly sunny skies and a high of 70 degrees. With free parking and $5 general admission tickets ($15 for club seats), there's no reason not to get out and support the team.
Are there any other game-day activities?
This will be one of the last times to see many of the NFL-bound Buckeyes before they make their way to the Pros. Halftime will be a show on Saturday, with Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett facing off in one last quarterback skill challenge for old-times sake.
During Student Appreciation Day a few weeks back, several students raced for the title of "Fastest Student" and the winner will be crowned during halftime of the spring game. The students participating will be coached by NFL prospects Vonn Bell, Eli Apple, Darron Lee, Jalin Marshall, Tyvis Powell and Ezekiel Elliott.
There will also be an offensive line and defensive line catch-a-punt competition, with Buckeye legends Anthony Schlegel, Kirk Barton, Jimmy Cordle, Bobby Carpenter and Jack Mewhort.
What are the rosters for each team?
You can find the full rosters and coaches for Team Scarlet, lead by Greg Schiano, and Team Gray, lead by Tony Alford, right here.
What are the anticipated position battles?
With fan-favorite Ezekiel Elliott heading for the NFL, there is a big hole in the depth chart at running back. Meyer noted that during spring practice, backs Bri'onte Dunn and freshman Mike Weber are neck-in-neck for the starting role, and the head coach doesn't anticipate naming a starter much earlier than the beginning of the season.
J.T. Barrett is the known starter at quarterback heading into the 2016 season, but there is a competition for his No. 2. Barrett will take a few snaps during the spring game, but Meyer and his staff are more interested in seeing how freshman Joe Burrow handles a large home-crowd versus former No. 2 Stephen Collier. Collier has slipped to the back of the depth chart, season after season, despite often favorable spring practices.
With 22 former Buckeyes now vying for a spot in the League, there is competition at almost every position on the field; the team only returned six starters -- three on either side of the ball. This is the youngest group of players that Meyer has ever had in the spring, and he fully intends on making use of the unique environment for his evaluations.