From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about the most important questions yet unanswered for the season. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our “Burning Questions” articles here.
Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: What is your favorite road Big Ten stadium?
Jami’s Take: Camp Randall
Camp Randall is not the biggest stadium in the Big Ten. It’s not even in the top 3 (it officially clocks in at No. 5). It doesn’t hold 100,000 or more when full. Only the Big House, Penn State’s Beaver Stadium and the Horseshoe do that. No, Camp Randall and its
But it is the oldest stadium in the Big Ten (the fourth-oldest in the FBS), and much like wine, it gets finer with age.
Camp Randall is known for its electric energy, proving that if you make use of your space, bigger isn’t always better.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s no place like home, and home for me is always going to be the Horseshoe. But sometimes we have to take our little Buckeye show on the road, and when we do, Camp Randall is easily my favorite place to visit.
For starters, the stadium itself is a piece of history. Before it was a football party palace, it was a Union Army training camp during the Civil War. After the war, the state of Wisconsin bought the ground and gave it to the university to avoid its being sold as building lots.
The first Badger football game in the current stadium took place on October 6, 1917, and with more than 100 years of Badger football taking place within its walls, this is a stadium that has seen some things.
That in and of itself makes it an extremely cool location, but what really sets it apart is the energy from the crowd. If you’ve ever experienced “Jump Around” after the third quarter, you know what I’m talking about. Pretty much every stadium has their traditions, but few are as iconic as that. It’s one of college football’s greatest traditions, and even as a visitor, that makes it a cool thing to witness firsthand. 80,000 fans jump up and down in unison — the stadium physically shakes.
The energy starts before kickoff, outside the stadium at the tailgates. Schools having a strong tailgate scene AND a strong energy inside the stadium is not as common as you might thing. But in Madison, Wisconsin? That’s your average Saturday.
It’s part of why Camp Randall is considered one of the toughest stadiums to win on the road. That same energy that makes for memorable Saturday fun can also make it an extremely intimidating place to visit. I’ve seen even some great Buckeye teams get rattled at Camp Randall — but the beauty of this is it usually makes for a great football game. Even in seasons where the Badgers are solid-but-not-great, their home games are anyone’s guess.
If I’ve traveled across several states to watch the Buckeyes, I want a good football game, and Camp Randall usually delivers.
As an added perk these days, if you’re visiting Madison for a game, you’ll get to see Luke Fickell at the helm for the Badgers. As someone who has a deep loyalty to him for his time at Ohio State, it’s nice to see him stepping into a head coaching role at such a fun location. As the kids would say, it’s what he deserves.
Now I understand this is all subjective (and based on the experiences I’ve had at away games). Others might have different opinions. After all, the Big House, Beaver Stadium, and Memorial Stadium are all considered great places to see a game (in my personal opinion, the first one is only great if the home team is losing and “Hail to the Victors” is not played one single time).
But I’m always going to defend Camp Randall as the best stadium other than the ‘Shoe. Those are fans that know how to have a fun time, and they know how to bring the energy that leads to great football. Sign me up for a lifetime guest pass to that.
Matt’s Take: Ross-Ade Stadium
I admit, this one is purely for personal reasons. I admit that going to a game at Purdue, or even watching one on TV, isn’t exactly the highlight of sporting excitement. But you know what is? One of the greatest plays in the history of Ohio State’s esteemed football program. You know it, you love it, it’s “Holy Buckeye.”
Now, just one single, standout play from over 20 years ago is not enough to put an otherwise mediocre stadium at the top of my list, but when you consider the fact that I was there, in West Lafayette for the game, that changes things.
I was a senior at Ohio State that fall and an organization that I was a part of took a trip out to Purdue for the game. I was seated in the front row of the very endzone where Michael Jenkins caught the game, season, and championship saving pass, just on the other side of the field.
This game was a microcosm for the whole season. Was Ohio State the best team in the country that year? Probably not, but what they were was a team that was impossible to keep down for a full 60 minutes (and sometimes more) of a game. The score was 6-3 in favor of the Boilermakers with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
Let me repeat, the score was 6-3. Is that championship material? Certainly not in today’s college football, and probably not by 2002 standards either, but nonetheless, there they were. I don’t exactly remember the breakdown of the stadium, but it sure felt like there were a lot of people wearing scarlet in the crowd that day.
You could feel the nerves in the crowd on that final drive as the clock ran down. Despite the fact that the Buckeyes had been orchestrating these types of comebacks all season long, you (or at least I) never felt comfortable that they were going to be able to remain balanced on the knife’s edge. But, friends, they did. Not only for this game, but for the rest of the season as well. It was similar feelings at Sun Devil Stadium (which I was also at) for the Fiesta Bowl.
But this game was special. It almost solidified, in early November, that there was just something special about that team. Neither on paper nor on the field was it the best team in Ohio State history, but the grit, determination, and character of that squad will be something that I will remember for the rest of my life — or until all my faculties fail me, and I am no longer able to remember anything besides the fact that I like creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy.
I mean, come on. Just watching this five-minute video on the play, and I’m still tearing up.
Another added bonus for being in Ross-Ade Stadium for that day was the fact that I was able to get my picture taken with the late, great Neutron Man. An image that hangs in my living room to this day.
Is Purdue’s football stadium a cathedral of college football? Of course not. Is it one of the most storied buildings in the Big Ten? Not really. But, for me, that old barn will always be remembered as the home of one of my most cherished collegiate and fandom memories. And, for that, I am eternally grateful.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: Camp Randall
Matt: Ross-Ade Stadium