BOULDER — When it comes to intersectional match-ups on the football field, Colorado and Ohio State are often in a league of their own. So it makes perfect sense that two will resume their brief but eventful series next year in Columbus.
The Buffaloes will travel to Ohio Stadium on Sept. 24, 2011, to play the host Buckeyes; the facility is the fourth largest in the country with a seating capacity of 102,329. It will mark the fifth time the two schools will play in football, the third time in Columbus, as the previous two times represented the sixth and eighth largest crowds a Colorado football team has ever played before. OSU leads the series, 3-1.
“Colorado has always recognized the significance of playing marquee opponents in the non-conference portion of our football schedule,” CU athletic director Mike Bohn said. “This is a tremendous opportunity on the national platform to schedule a game with Ohio State, which has been one of the nation’s premier programs and whom we have a lot of respect for. We’re looking forward to what will be CU’s first trip to the ‘Horseshoe’ in 25 years.”
“This will be a great contest between two outstanding BCS teams that share an excellent football tradition,” said Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith. “I know our fans will enjoy this opportunity.”
“The matchup with the Buffaloes gives Buckeye fans just another reason to anticipate the 2011 season,” OSU coach Jim Tressel said. “Our players certainly enjoy games where they can test themselves against the other conferences nationally.”
The 1986 game was the last meeting between the two, with the host Buckeyes escaping with a 13-10 win on a field goal with 25 seconds left in the game. The first meeting in 1971, also in Columbus, was the site of one of CU’s greatest road victories in its history. The Buffs, who had won at No. 9 Louisiana State two weeks earlier, rolled into Ohio State ranked No. 10 and defeated the No. 6 Buckeyes, 20-14. CU went on to finish 10-2 and as the No. 3 team in the nation that season.
The two also met in the 1977 Orange Bowl; after taking an early 10-0 lead, the Buffs were shut down the rest of the way by a tremendous Buckeye defense in losing, 27-10. The other game in the series was in 1985, when Ohio State visited Boulder and left with a 36-13 win; that game also is historical in the fact that the Buffs started that season with a 2-0 record, and fans were coming back on board after six straight losing seasons: that day, 7,611 people purchased tickets, which still ranks as the largest walk-up game day sale in school history and one of the largest for any sporting event in state history, only recently topped by the Colorado Rockies.
The game, coordinated by both athletic directors and their respective television partners, is a one-time affair with no return trip to Boulder. Ohio State will pay CU $1.4 million for the visit, with the Buffs to earn additional dollars if the game is televised, which is highly likely.
Colorado opens the 2011 season at Hawai’i on Sept. 3, hosts California on Sept. 10, is set to play Colorado State in Denver on Sept. 17, and has moved a home game against Fresno State to Oct. 8 to accommodate the trip to Columbus. The Buffaloes are unsure of their conference game schedule, as it is still being determined when the school will join the Pacific-10 Conference, which will occur no later than July 1, 2012. And because of the game in Honolulu, CU has the option of playing a 13th game next year.