COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Football fever is sweeping Ohio as the Cleveland Browns prepare to play their first playoff game Sunday night and the Ohio State Buckeyes look to a national championship versus Alabama on Monday night.
“You don’t have so much to look forward to, so when you get something like this, you get excited about it,” Buckeye fan Ardelle Rameacher said of the bright spot during a year defined by COVID-19.
Rameacher and her children were shopping for Ohio State merchandise Sunday morning at College Traditions near the OSU campus to prepare for Monday night’s game.
“We’re just going to go all out,” said Savannah Rameacher, 10, holding up a Buckeye face mask.
Both the Rameacher family and season ticket holder Jason Streeter said they plan to watch the game from their living rooms.
“I’m going to watch it from home, lock-in and probably bite my fingernails a little bit,” Streeter said.
His 10-year-old daughter, Riley, added, “My favorite part [of watching the games] is when the Buckeyes win.”
College Traditions reserved an empty shelf with a sign saying “Keep your fingers crossed. Reserved for national champ merchandise.”
“They fought for an opportunity to play and I think they’re going to showcase it tomorrow night in front of the world,” Steeter said, confident the Buckeyes will beat Alabama.
As many fans prepare to watch the game from home, business owners are hoping some will choose to watch from bars and restaurants.
Tim Emery, the owner of Boston’s Restaurant and Sports Bar in the Arena District, said the restaurant is following strict health and safety guidelines, but he was concerned the statewide 10 p.m. curfew would drive away potential customers.
“Unfortunately, it’ll probably be right around half time for both of those games, so we’ll see what happens,” Emery said.
Emery explained a typical game day would pack the bar. This year, he’s seen an uptick in takeout and delivery orders and anticipated the same surge Sunday and Monday nights.
Many fans said they’re growing accustomed to the adjustments required by the health crisis and welcome the distraction football has provided.
Rameacher said, “We’re stoked, man. We’re excited for the game. Can’t wait. Go Bucks!”
You can watch the Browns take on the Steelers live on NBC 4 beginning with the pregame show at 7:30 p.m. tonight.