Dressed in red to cheer on Ohio State against Wisconsin.

I went to a party the other day with about 103,000 of my suddenly closest friends.

At least we sat close in the stands at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. A lot of us ate similar big hot pretzels. And we cheered for the same team.

You have to be in a stadium to completely understand how satisfying it is to high-five complete strangers.

Officially, according to an online game summary posted by ESPN, the attendance at the recent Ohio State game against Wisconsin was 102,998, just two people shy of 103,000, so I rounded it up. I also used the higher figure because could have sworn I heard the public address announcer claim there were more than 103,000 people in Ohio State's stadium on that Saturday, a rainy and windy day on which the game was played in the afternoon, so fans could actually see themselves getting drenched.

Interestingly, the official capacity of Ohio Stadium was reported by ESPN to be 102,092. So, more people showed up on a stormy day to get wet and watch Ohio State win than there were seats in the stadium in which to put them. This was a good thing. A lot of those people who were given free pink breast cancer awareness towels at the entrance gate apparently didn't have to use them to dry off a place to sit.

Under Cover

My friend and I already had dry seats. He is an alumnus of Ohio State. He got his doctorate at the university. Somehow, he scored seats under the overhang at the top of the stadium. Granted, it might not have been much of an accomplishment. The seats were distant enough from the field, I suppose, to be less than desirable on most game days. And some views of the action on the field were obscured by posts holding up the overhang. But, on the day of this game, those posts also held up a roof that shielded us from the rain that continually fell through the game.

So, when we arrived well in advance of the kickoff of the Ohio State-Wisconsin game, I took off my rain pancho with a smile and felt special.

I was not an alumnus. I went to another university, a smaller university in Ohio. Same state, different school. It's a great university, with a fine tradition of its own. But it doesn't draw 103,000 people to its football games.

Except for the cherished camaraderie I get from going to the contests with former classmates, my university's games seem just that — football games — which is more than enough on most Saturdays.

Ohio State games — from the band's playing and marching of "Script Ohio" at the start to the team's singing of "Carmen Ohio" at the end — seem like dramatic and entertaining events.

I may not have known the words to the OSU alma mater when the crowd sang it. But, I knew this gathering of OSU fans had a quality all its own.

There is a reason that goes far beyond vanity that they put the word "The" in front of Ohio State University.

Dressed For Occasion

I downplayed my collegiate background and wore an Ohio State hat to identify my allegiance for that afternoon. And, I donned a scarlet jacket, to mimic the team's colors. So did thousands of others in the stands who were dressed in Ohio State jerseys, coats, hoodies, sweatshirts, golf shirts, T-shirts and other pieces of fanatical athletic apparel.

"I'll be at the game, so look for me on TV," I jokingly had told friends after I had learned that the Ohio State-Wisconsin game was scheduled to be television's "game of the week."

"I'll be the one dressed in red ..."

Fortunately, even though a sea of that color stretched out in front of me during the game, I didn't have to see red — as in get angry — during the game. After an evenly played first quarter that led to a 0-0 score, Ohio State took care of business the final three periods, and emerged victorious, 38-7.

I felt so good about the result that when the team gathered at the end zone in front of us to sing "Carmen Ohio," I hummed along. Then, strutting haughtily, I exited with the rest of the victorious OSU crowd — 103,000 of us, smiling and striding in unison out of the stadium.

Ohio State had stayed undefeated, and remained ranked high enough to conceivably make it to the college football playoffs. So, as we walked, it was easy to feel entitled.

In fact, outside of the stadium, again exposed to the inclement weather, I couldn't help but wonder why they didn't have a longer overhang, one that would keep fans such as myself dry all the way to the parking lot.

I'm a Buckeye. I shouldn't have to wear a silly pancho.