PISCATAWAY, N.J. — In the fourth quarter, as Ohio State was putting yet another beating on Rutgers, a stadium-wide O-H-I-O chant broke out at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Five years ago, such a scene might have been unfathomable. Despite being two of college football’s most historic programs, they’d never played prior to Rutgers joining the Big Ten. The move wasn’t even a popular one, with most Big Ten fans ridiculing the addition of the Scarlet Knights. Four seasons in, the jokes haven’t let up.
But one group of Ohio State fans will never complain about sharing a division with Rutgers. Outside of Ohio, New York City is second only to Washington D.C. in terms of alumni numbers. The NYC Buckeyes alumni group has more than 4,000 members, and it’s estimated that there’s around 10,000 Ohio State alums in New York City.
Before Rutgers and Maryland showed up, seeing the Buckeyes in person often meant New Yorkers had to trek to isolated State College or all the way back to Ohio.
“When I heard about [expansion], I was like, ‘That’s awesome because we can finally go up to an Ohio State game up close,'” said Dio Cavero, an Ohio State alum who lives on Long Island.
And for Ohio State fans in the Big Apple, it absolutely was. Cavero was at Saturday’s game with his wife Kristine, and they’d both also been to the 49-7 Buckeyes’ win in 2015. In that one, too, Ohio State fans took over the stadium and screamed out the O-H-I-O from all four sides of the stadium.
“It was so great to see how many fans were at the stadium, and toward the end of the game, you could really see how many Ohio State fans were here,” Kristine said.
The pregame atmosphere made very clear that Ohio State would be well represented inside the stadium. At least five Ohio State flags flew from tailgates in the Scarlet lot on the west side of the stadium.
At the NYC Buckeyes tailgate, a couple hundred fans were gathered around with BBQ and beer overflowing. That representation continued inside the stadium, when the Buckeyes got louder cheers than Rutgers when the teams first came out for warmups.
“It’s awesome because it’s a short train ride from the city,” said Ryan Monell, president of the New York alumni chapter. “Most Big Ten schools are in the Midwest, so it’s much easier to get out here to see a game. As you can see, the atmosphere with all the Ohio State alums is electric. It’s a great opportunity for Buckeyes fans.”
Even on a cold night against a bad opponent, they were perfectly happy to take advantage of it.
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