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You’re Nuts: What Ohio State game were you most nervous heading into?

Your (almost) daily dose of good-natured, Ohio State banter.

Michigan Wolverines v Ohio State Buckeyes Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

On Saturday night, Ohio State heads to South Bend to take on Notre Dame in prime time. The battle between the Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish will be one of the biggest regular-season games in the college football seasons. The two teams met last year in the opening weekend’s marquee game, and it ended with Ohio State winning a tense game 21-10 in Columbus.

As nerve-racking as last year’s game against Notre Dame was heading into the contest, as well as during, this year’s game will see blood pressures raised even higher this year. Not only will the Buckeyes be on the road, but they’ll be taking on a Notre Dame team that doesn’t have concerns at quarterback like they did heading into last season’s game. While oddsmakers have Ohio State as a favorite in the game, this year’s result feels like it could go either way.

Today we want to know what Ohio State game you were most nervous going into. There certainly are plenty of options over the years that have had Buckeye fans especially tense. Games against Michigan, Penn State, and other Big Ten foes are the first that come to mind. Then there are high-profile non-conference games like we’ll see on Saturday. As if those weren’t enough to put some butterflies in your stomach just by thinking of them, then there are BCS and CFP games where the Buckeyes had a shot to head to the national title game or were playing for a national championship. All the choices should lead to some very interesting answers.

Today’s question: What Ohio State game were you most nervous heading into?

We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.

Brett’s answer: 2006 vs. Michigan

I find it hard to believe that there will be a bigger edition of The Game. Ohio State was the top-ranked team in the country heading into the rivalry battle, while Michigan was ranked second. Not only was there the usual battle for bragging rights, but the winner of the matchup would be headed to the BCS National Championship Game. This game was so big that it was moved out of its normal noon kickoff slot to a 3:30 start time.

As for me, I did get a taste of the rivalry after moving to Columbus in 2005, but it would be the first Ohio State-Michigan game in Columbus that I would experience as a resident of Ohio. The week didn’t exactly go smoothly for me, as I ended up getting food poisoning on Wednesday night, and I spent most of the next day throwing up and feeling terrible. Since I was a dumb college student, that didn’t stop me from jumping into Mirror Lake on Thursday night. I did have to do the jump sober, so I didn’t have all that liquid courage to keep me warm.

The HBO documentary on the rivalry came out a few days before The Game, so I was ready to run through walls early in the week. Then came the news that Bo Schembechler had passed away, which made me even more nervous about Saturday since that would add even more fuel to the fire that Michigan would be playing with. By the time Saturday morning rolled around, I was a mess, not only from the nerves but just because I felt pretty terrible physically from the last few days.

I know I could have said the Alabama game from the first CFP, but honestly, I felt like with that one we were playing with house money since the Buckeyes were on their third-string quarterback. In the 2007 title game I was confident Ohio State would win, and that backfired on me. 2008 was such a strange season overall that I guess I was just happy Ohio State made it to the championship game. It certainly is going to take a lot to top what I felt heading into the 2006 game.

Matt’s answer: 2002 vs. Michigan

I know I am throwing this back perhaps further than some of you were alive, or at least to before you can remember, but this game was my senior season at Ohio State, it felt serendipitous that I was able to witness this season while being an OSU student as a long overdue apology from the Football Gods for subjecting me to a childhood riddled with the Shouldas, Couldas, and Might Have Beens of the John Cooper Era.

However, going into The Game, the nerves were still incredibly high. Not only was the residual trauma of suffering through countless years of Cooper’s teams being the most talented team in the Big Ten, only to have their championship hopes dashed by their rivals, but even though Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes were obviously undefeated coming into the regular-season finale, they had not been a dominant team for much of the season, winning five of their previous nine games by a single score, including some against seemingly overmatched competition like Cincinnati, Northwestern, Purdue (The “Holy Buckeye” game), and Illinois.

So, even though the No. 9 Wolverines had already dropped a pair of contests to Notre Dame and Iowa on the year, there was only muted confidence going into The Game. Yes, we Buckeye fans were pumped up knowing that a victory would assure a spot in the BCS Championship Game, but I didn’t know a single person who was overly confident. With that Buckeye team, you just couldn’t afford to get over-excited, because even the most exciting wins felt like walking on a knife’s edge; you could either lose your balance and come crashing down, or you could slip and face a fate far worse by falling on the blade.

Yes, the team had the skills of Will Smith, Maurice Clarett, Santonio Holmes, Mike Doss, A.J. Hawk, Chris Gamble, Nick Mangold, Will Allen, Bobby Carpenter, Michael Jenkins, Ben Hartsock, Rob Sims, Dustin Fox, Simon Fraser, Cie Grant, Quinn Pitcock, Nate Salley, Matt Wilhelm, and more, but we knew that quarterback Craig Krenzel wasn’t going to be a guy who could throw a team to victory, so all optimism — at least from me — was cautious at best.

Like it had all season, the Buckeyes played the game close; the home team trailer 9-7 heading into halftime, and after a scoreless third quarter, OSU pulled ahead for good with a three-yard touchdown run by Maurice Hall with 5:28 remaining to ice the game at 14-9.

Following the game, like nearly all of the students and many other fans, I would up on the Ohio Stadium turf, celebrating the historic victory. In fact, I took a bit of that turf from inside the Block O at the 50-yard line and put it in my pocket. From there, I “planted” it in a styrofoam cup and kept it on the windowsill of my parents’ house until they moved to Florida a year later.

So, while the memories of that game are some of my favorite as a student at Ohio State, I know that the nerves were not only real and justified, but they were overwhelming until the clock struck 00:00.