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Night games bring excitement, recruiting advantages to Ohio State football

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Members of the Ohio State football team pose before the Buckeyes' 38-10 victory over Penn State on Oct. 17. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo Editor

Members of the Ohio State football team warm up before the Buckeyes’ 38-10 victory over Penn State on Oct. 17.
Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo Editor

On Saturday, for the fourth straight season under coach Urban Meyer, Ohio State football played host to a contest under the lights.

The excitement was in the air as usual for Meyer, who has been a proponent of night games since his 2012 arrival in Columbus.

“We love night games … I think I just hear our players talk about it,” Meyer said on the Monday before the 38-10 victory over Penn State.

Meyer appeared to be correct about the atmosphere. 108,423 fans were in attendance in the blacked-out crowd, marking the second-highest attended game in Ohio Stadium history.

Since Meyer’s arrival, the Buckeyes have participated in 11 night games — seven of which were played in the ‘Shoe, where they stand at 6-1 during the Meyer era.

The players echoed their coach’s excitement about the nighttime matchup. Senior defensive lineman Adolphus Washington said it gave him a sense of nostalgia from his younger days.

“It bring you back to your high school days when you used to go out there on Friday nights,” Washington said. “The night atmosphere, it’s just a lot more energetic.”

Sophomore linebacker Chris Worley said there is more opportunity to prepare when a night game is on the schedule, particularly when it comes to rest.

“In early games, you just wake up and it’s all gone from there,” Worley said. “But in a night game, you get your body ready, you get to take a nap or two.”

During Meyer’s time at Utah and Florida, primetime matchups were a regular appointment for his teams because of the warm weather. However, come autumn in the Big Ten, the temperature dramatically drop at night, causing logistical problems for all involved including fans and police.

Safety wise, the OSU Department of Public Safety took extra measures to ensure the night went smoothly.  

Assistant vice president and director of public safety Vernon Baisden said in accordance with the night game, additional light towers were placed on campus and east of High Street. The Student Safety Service officers were also offering extended hours for their escort service that began at 3 p.m. instead of the usual 7 p.m.

OSU debuted its much-anticipated black uniforms that were first discovered by the public on Meyer’s coffee table when ESPN did an “inside the office” feature.

Though the pictures were left out on his table, they were not intended to be publicized — but fans grabbed the small detail and ran with it.

“That was sitting out on his coffee table for a reason,” OSU athletic director Gene Smith said on Monday. “That wasn’t for you guys to come and look at so he could impress you. It’s sitting on the table because the recruits saw it.”

Sophomore linebacker Raekwon McMillan said Meyer showed him an early design of the black uniform during his recruiting process.

“When he brought in the uniform, he was trying to impress me,” McMillan said.

On Saturday, the Nike alternative pants, jersey and black matte helmets were on full display to impress the nine recruits in attendance.

Playing under the lights and in front of the blacked-out crowd was a good mix to attract the potential future Buckeyes in attendance, including the No. 5 wide receiver in the 2016 class and current Miami (Fla.) commit Sam Bruce of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“If I was them I would be pumped. That environment is unbelievable, and especially with those black jerseys,” senior defensive lineman Tommy Schutt said.

Another notable recruit standing on the sidelines was No. 7 running back Antonio Williams of New London, North Carolina, who decommitted from Wisconsin earlier in the week. If the Buckeyes are able to convince Williams to hop the fence over to Columbus, it would fill the hole that was expected to be filled by Ohio native and No. 10 athlete in the country George Hill, who decommitted from OSU earlier in the week.

Through recruiting or just feeling an extra burst of energy throughout the game, Schutt said games played at night add value to the contest.

“Being in a stadium like this at night is just a special place and the crowd is jacked up,” Schutt said. “There’s definitely something different about playing a night game here.”

The Buckeyes are next set to face off with Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey, on Oct. 24.

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