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Big Ten home opener against Buckeyes brings 'a lot of red' to Byrd Stadium

Maryland takes the field for its first Big Ten home game against Ohio State.
Maryland takes the field for its first Big Ten home game against Ohio State. (Tommy Gilligan, USA Today Sports)

COLLEGE PARK — Sporting a gray T-shirt and a red Ohio State hat, Buckeyes fan Jeremy Crawford watched fans file into the Byrd Stadium bleachers and didn't know what to make of it.

"There's a lot of red out here," said Crawford, of Germantown, before the Maryland football team's 52-24 loss against Ohio State on Saturday afternoon. "I wish my Buckeyes would've gotten a committee together so we would've worn our whites, but it's OK."

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The announced sellout crowd of 51,802 formed a sea of red at the Terps' first Big Ten home game, as the red jerseys worn by Buckeyes fans helped them blend in with Maryland fans. It was one of the things that made Saturday's game feel a bit different than past conference matchups.

Terps fan Chris Ashley isn't used to watching Maryland play against an opponent as nationally renowned as Ohio State, so getting the chance to attend the first game between the teams was a special moment for the 20 year old.

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"[It] doesn't get much bigger," said Ashley, of Sterling, Va. "I don't think anybody in the ACC has the name appeal of Ohio State or the brand name."

Maryland students didn't want to miss out on the occasion, either. Though the student section already appeared fully occupied, fans continued pouring in from the student entrance during the game's opening minutes, causing some to miss Ohio State's first touchdown.

"This [game] is probably up there as far as craziness," Terps fan Mozelle Meyers, 53, of Sterling, Va., said of the environment as students crammed into the bleachers before the game.

This is Maryland's first season in the Big Ten after 61 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. After getting his first taste of a Big Ten environment last week at Indiana, Terps coach Randy Edsall was pleased with the atmosphere Saturday at Byrd Stadium.

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"These atmospheres over the last two weeks have been great," Edsall said. "Our kids really enjoyed playing in Indiana, and they enjoyed today, other than losing."

The Terps hosted their first sellout crowd since their game against Florida State on Nov. 22, 2008. Contributing to that turnout were the Ohio State fans who traveled to College Park for the game.

Nick Lee, of Norwalk, Ohio, has made trips to Big Ten schools in the past to cheer on the Buckeyes. Upon arriving at Byrd Stadium for the first time, the 31-year-old instantly noticed that the environment wasn't as hostile as he expected.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I don't think either team is too familiar with each other with Maryland joining the Big Ten," Lee said.

For Potomac resident and Ohio State fan Dane Morris, Maryland's transition to the Big Ten gives him a chance to watch live Buckeyes games when they visit College Park.

"I'm welcoming [Maryland into the Big Ten] because I get to see my Buckeyes every two years," he said.

For Morris, the pregame atmosphere didn't disappoint.

"It's electric," Morris said. "I got goosebumps. I love seeing my team play."

Once the game was underway, the Ohio State fans made most of the noise, as their cheers consistently drowned out the sound of booing Maryland fans. By the fourth quarter, many of the remaining supporters were Buckeyes fans.

With Iowa, Michigan State and Rutgers left on their home schedule, the Terps hope they will be playing in front of more lively environments at Byrd Stadium before their season ends.

"Hopefully we can continue to have the same atmosphere for the rest of our home games and throughout the rest of the season," Edsall said.

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