Columbus
Ohio Ready For The Game

November 22, 2002

Buckeye fans are getting ready for the big showdown against Michigan Saturday.

If the Buckeyes win Saturday, they also win the Big 10 title and a berth in the national championship game. If they lose, they lose it all.

Fans near the Ohio-Michigan state line are getting an up-close-and personal taste of the rivalry, as the game divides neighborhoods and families. At the Buckeye and Wolverine Shop in Toledo, both merchandise and loyalties are split right down the middle. Michigan fan Christine Crawford was searching this week for a maize-and-blue jersey that she hopes her boyfriend's father will be wearing to pay off a bet. James Skelding was buying a new compact disc with Ohio State's fight songs. His other one is missing, and he suspects it may have an inside job- his wife is a Michigan graduate.

For the players, Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel faces his biggest test Saturday. Krenzel can become the first quarterback in 20 years to lead the Buckeyes to back-to-back victories over the Wolverines. Former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce says he has never seen a young man make so many intelligent decisions on a football field.

The scope of the game also weighs on current coach Jim Tressel. Tressel's Buckeyes beat Michigan last year, but he knows the adulation he's getting from Ohio State's fans only lasts until the first time he loses to the hated Wolverines. But Tressel says he can't worry about that, he's got to focus on the game.

Earlier this week, Buckeye fans heard plenty from former Buckeyes reminding them to behave during Saturday’s showdown with Michigan. After last weekend’s win against Illinois, there has been speculation that fan activity could erupt around campus Saturday following the game. Earlier this week, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said he feared for his safety on the field last time the Wolverines were in Columbus.

In addition to running a public service announcement on the Ohio Stadium scoreboard during the game, OSU is running television and radio PSA’s with Ohio celebrities and former players. Archie Griffin and Chris Spielman have both been tapped for the campaign.

OSU Vice President William Hall has also written students, reminding them to stay in line.

“I trust and hope that true Buckeye fans, led by our students, will react to victory or loss like real champions,” Hall says.

The last time Michigan played in Columbus, off-campus rioting broke out, causing damage to cars and property, and a number of arrests. In 2000, overtime costs for Columbus police totaled more than $100,000.

The University has planned a number of activities for students leading up to and after the game. Activities include charitable events throughout the week, free food and a free concert after the game and a clean-up effort Saturday.

For more information on events throughout the weekend, visit www.osu.edu/features/mich.html.

© Dispatch Productions, Inc., 2002. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

 

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