2017 Top College Tailgates #16 Ohio State University

Photo by Jo McCulty The Ohio State University

2017 Top College Tailgates #16 Ohio State University

Like many native-born Ohioans, Nicholas McWilliams was raised on Ohio State football. He recalls his father watching the Buckeyes throughout his life, but McWilliams’ first in-person experience was after he enrolled at the university.

“I had always heard about how crazy Ohio State fans can be and how immersive the game day experience is,” says McWilliams, now a senior at the school. “All around, it’s incredible how many people are out. I swear the city doubles to triples in size every time there’s a game.”

But McWilliams’ perspective changed when he became sports editor of The Lantern, the campus newspaper, during his junior year of college. He had to take a step back to minimize his biases, and that gave him new insight into the fan experience.

“I knew coming into Columbus that everything football-related was very tradition-driven,” says McWilliams, who points to the band’s skull session performance two hours before the game (more than 10,000 people attend!) and the team’s march into the stadium. “I believed it, but having this experience as sports editor, I can definitely say that’s all very true. That’s something they really try to hold near and dear to themselves. It’s kind of amazing to me to see such a large community come together every Saturday during football season. It seems like the whole city comes together at that point.”