COLUMBUS, Ohio – Very few college football teams in America have the stadium size or fan base to draw 99,000 fans to a game.
Only one can draw that many to a spring scrimmage.
An announced throng of 99,391 nearly filled 104,944-seat Ohio Stadium on Saturday for the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes’ spring scrimmage. The crowd is a national spring game record, eclipsing the previous record of 95,722 – set by Ohio State in 2009.
"I was shocked. That's ridiculous," safety Tyvis Powell said. "I don't think it's going to ever be like this anywhere else in the world."
Alabama has had crowds of more than 90,000 since Nick Saban arrived in 2007. Prior to Saturday, Nebraska had the largest spring crowd of 2015 at 76,881.
With tickets going for $5 and the bandwagon full coming off the school’s first national title since 2002, advance sales reached 61,000 Friday morning. School officials anticipated up to 90,000 fans. But with the weather nearly perfect, the walk-up crowd surpassed expectations, leading to a record turnout.
It should be noted that the crowd lacked staying power. About half the fans left at halftime, with second-half playing time going largely to backup players.
The crowd did not even get to see several of the most famous Buckeyes. Running back Ezekiel Elliott, out after offseason wrist surgery, was not in pads. Neither were quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller, both of whom have starred before being sidelined last year due to injuries. The three-man quarterback derby will carry over to fall camp and will be one of the major national storylines leading into the 2015 season.
Barrett and Miller spent much of the afternoon wearing headsets to hear the play calls and standing on the field behind the offensive huddle with head coach Urban Meyer.
Cardale Jones, who started the final three games of Ohio State’s championship run after Barrett broke his leg, completed 15 of 33 first-half passes for 224 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. The towering junior wore a black, no-contact jersey, but broke protocol to tackle Powell after he picked off one of Jones’ passes.