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For Me, Ohio State vs. Cal Is A Matchup Four Years In The Making

It's more than just a game.
Ohio State players interacting with fans as they leave the field.

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Fans congratulate the Ohio State Buckeyes as they leave the field following their 42-7 victory over the San Diego State Aztecs at Ohio Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

This weekend's game against Cal can not come soon enough.

I have had September 15th, 2012 circled on my calendar since before I decided to come to Ohio State. In the Spring of 2009, when I was choosing between schools, I looked at future football schedules and realized that OSU would be playing host to Cal this year. I mentioned this to Evan, one of my best friends, who had just returned from a visit to Cal and decided that was where he wanted to spend his college years. It was decided right then and there that if I went to Ohio State, our families would come out for the game senior year.

Here is some back story to this friendship. My parents have been friends with Evan's since before we were born. Evan's parents and my Dad all went to UCLA, so we were raised as die-hard Bruin fans. Our dads went on numerous football road trips together - including UCLA at Ohio State in 1999 - and we even joined in on the fun for some games. Thus, it was only natural that this weekend's match up with Cal would be a mandatory trip. Though we went off to different schools, we still share a love of college football and an - often irrationally - optimistic view of UCLA's football future. But we have developed similar fanaticism for our current schools, and over the last four years, we've exchanged endless banter about this trip and counted down the months, weeks, and days until kick-off.

The game itself may not live up to the potential Rose Bowl preview we had hoped it would be - OSU is banned from playing in a bowl this season and transitioning under Urban Meyer, while Cal's Jeff Tedford is on the hot seat after a disappointing loss to Nevada in its opening game. But for me, none of that really matters. I had not even stepped foot on Ohio State's campus when I first found out that this game was happening, and now kick-off is less than 48 hours away.

The pageantry and atmosphere at OSU football games combine for an incredible experience, even if you're not a huge sports fan. I think my Mom is honestly more excited to see the band than the actual game (not that she's not a fan, she's been to more football games than I have). I am always excited to walk into Ohio Stadium on game day, but this Saturday will be even more special. My parents will be making their first trip to Columbus since they dropped me off freshman year, and one of my best friends and his Dad will be in the small section of blue faithful amongst a sea of red. I wrote a few weeks ago about how the unifying qualities of sports can make strangers feel like family, a sentiment that especially rings true at Ohio State. This weekend, for the first time, my actual family gets to meet my adopted one.