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Notre Dame Football: Behind Enemy Lines – Visiting Columbus, OH and Ohio Stadium

A fan’s account of a gameday trip to the Horseshoe

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Ohio State Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

This is a reader submission via email. While I would prefer readers use the FanPost feature, this is another route should one want something published on the site.

Behind Enemy Lines – Visiting Columbus, OH and Ohio Stadium

As soon as it was announced in 2014 that Notre Dame would be traveling to Columbus, Ohio to battle Ohio State I knew I wanted to go. How easy it was going to be to get tickets was a different story. My Dad is a 1971 graduate of Notre Dame (Alumni Hall – Go Dawgs), so getting tickets to home games hasn’t been difficult the last 10-15 years. We’ve tried to get away tickets recently (Michigan, Georgia, Ohio State) to no avail. I continually checked the Ohio State website in regards to single game tickets. A date and time was eventually announced. I got on Ticketmaster before the 10:00 A.M. start time and even made it through the waiting room period. Once I got through the waiting room period, the only remaining tickets were ones with obstructed view. Some of them didn’t seem so bad, but whenever I tried to click to purchase, it would check mark then act like it was going through. After the anticipation, it would say “sorry someone else beat you to the tickets.” This would continue to happen until all the tickets were gone. A few weeks later, my Dad told me he found and bought us tickets to the game! The excitement for us continued to grow leading up to the game with reading countless One Foot Down and articles and listening to podcasts and Notre Dame press conferences.

The Friday before the game was finally here! We tried to get to Columbus around lunchtime. Living in Southeastern Indiana we actually had a shorter drive than our normal drive to South Bend. Our first planned stop was Ray Ray’s Hog Pit, which was close to campus. It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives season 27 episode 9. Unfortunately, I was hoping it was going to be better than it was. I got the pulled pork sandwich with waffle fries and Mac and Cheese. I thought the pulled pork sandwich could’ve used some more sauce and could’ve been pulled more. The taste of the pork was good but I wouldn’t go back. I also didn’t care for the Mac and Cheese. Next on our agenda was the Jack Nicklaus Museum, which is located on Ohio States’ campus. It was really neat and definitely worth checking out. I highly recommend it. I knew he was one of the best golfers ever, but I didn’t realize that he was that good at such a young age. It was really interesting learning more about him. There’s also a ton of memorabilia and items from his career and life. Then, the next couple things on the agenda didn’t go as planned. As a huge Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, I wanted to see the statue of him in downtown Columbus. The Arnold Classic is an annual sports festival that takes place in Columbus with the main highlight being bodybuilding. We had trouble finding it and eventually gave up. Probably needed to park and walk around the area more to find it. That evening, we tried to go to Schmidt’s Restaurant and Sausage House in the German Village of Columbus. We were there around 7:30 P.M. and there was an hour and half to two hour wait, so we tried another place in German Village The Thurman Café. They also had an hour to an hour and half wait. We ended up going back to our hotel and eating at one of the places by the hotel called the Hofbrauhaus Columbus. I had a very good pretzel bun hot ham & cheese and some German beer. We finished the evening with a nightcap at Wings Etc., where we tried to watch the end of the Illinois vs. Indiana football game. They turned off the TV’s with 2 minutes to go.

Saturday was Gameday!! With Gameday actually being in town, we toyed with the idea of trying to go to campus to watch some of it, but ended up watching from the hotel. We were glad we did because of the weather. All week the forecast showed 80-degree temperatures and clear skies. Of course the Friday before it changed to scattered thunderstorms. After watching College Gameday we headed to Krema Nut Company. I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches almost every day for lunch, so when I saw there was a place that sold Gourmet Peanut Butter and Jellies I had to get there. They also have a variety of nuts, snacks and sweets. This place was definitely worth the stop and was perfect for my daily dose of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We stayed at the Hyatt Place Columbus/OSU. It was only a couple minute walk, so I took my sandwich back to the lobby and ate it during the 12 o’clock games. It was really good. The hotel was letting us leave our car there during the game if we wanted so we faced a dilemma on what to do to get to the stadium. We ended up Ubering to the game. It ended up being close to $15 to get to the stadium. The Uber driver acted like it would take an hour or so to get one back after the game and it would cost $100-300. With that news, we planned on walking the 2.5 miles back. It actually didn’t seem that bad. I will say that it was a lot easier finding a hotel in Columbus than South Bend. There were a lot of them ranging in distance from stadium, price and quality.

We had arrived at Ohio Stadium for the game. It was neat to see in person. We asked someone to take our picture in front of the stadium then walked around it. This year is the 100th anniversary of the stadium and it’s easy to tell which areas were original. After taking in the stadium, we walked over to where College Gameday was earlier that morning. It was neat to see everything set up. We walked around the tailgate area a little bit to kill time. The area around the stadium doesn’t have the college campus vibe as much as most of the other college football stadiums I’ve seen. That may be due to Columbus being a larger city than the others or because of how their campus is set up. There wasn’t a lot to see nearby like Notre Dame or other schools. I’m not sure if we just didn’t know where the better places to go were or if they were just more spread out. However, there were some live music and beer garden/food truck areas that were neat.

When the gates opened we headed in. To get to our seats we had to climb a lot of steps. Not recommended for those scared of heights. The view from our seats was really good even being in the upper section. There were rows above us but I assume they had a good view too. The pregame presentation was also really neat and well done. They had Navy Leap Frog parachuters drop in then the band came out. I will admit it was cool to see the script Ohio in person. Having gone to Notre Dame Florida State and Notre Dame Virginia Tech games last year I do think those pregame festivities were better. A sold out crowd of mostly Ohio State fans did make a lot of noise at times, but I think they expected to win by a lot so they weren’t super amped up. Notre Dame’s play in the first half also quieted them for quite awhile. I’m glad, because most of what I heard people talk about with their experiences, they would never go to a game there again or it was a really unpleasant experience. I was expecting the worst and thankfully the fans weren’t too bad. However, they will still remain my most hated sports franchise in any sport by far. They’re full of themselves, obnoxious, and can’t be reasoned with.

As for the game, it ended up being a lot better game then mostly all of Notre Dame’s big time games during the Kelly era. There was quite awhile I really thought Notre Dame was going to pull it off. I was impressed with the Ohio State defense. They were a lot better than I expected them to be even with all the talk that they were going to be better than last year. I thought the Notre Dame defense did a great job against a high-powered Ohio State offense. Smith-Nigba did get hurt early, but they have a lot of weapons so holding them to 21 and 7 points in the first half especially was impressive. I was glad the kick-return team actually tried to return some kicks even though they weren’t successful. It seemed like the last few years they never attempted. Matt Salerno the former walk on, Freshman Benjamin Morrison and Jaden Mickey all made some nice plays. The offense as a whole though has some work to do. It’s hard to score 10 points and expect to win. There were some moments they looked okay but they really didn’t capitalize on some big time plays.

Overall it was a great experience. I wouldn’t go back again but definitely something to check off my bucket list. Just being with my dad and getting to spend time with him over the weekend and at the game was priceless. Hopefully this helps anyone thinking about visiting Columbus and going to a game at The Horseshoe. Here’s to hoping next year it’ll be O-H Oh No with the Irish getting some revenge up in South Bend. Until next time Go Irish!!