Welcome to the 2012 football season Tailgatin’ finale. And what a finale we’ve got. The undefeated Buckeyes are preparing for TTUN and an outside shot at an AP national championship. While such a title is still very much a longshot, Ohio State would be content with a victory tomorrow in The Game, sending this year’s special class of seniors out with a perfect mark in their final year. As Urban Meyer alluded to this week, these seniors didn’t have to stick around after the whole Tatgate/Charitygate fiasco. They chose to remain at The Ohio State University. Having graduated from said university, I completely get it. If you want two examples of why this senior class is one of the, well, classiest, look no further than Reid Fragel and Zach Boren. Fragel moved over to tackle from tight end this season and has wildly exceeded expectations. He’s arguably turned in an all-B1G performance this season. Boren’s much-publicized move from fullback to linebacker shored up a hemorrhaging defense and brought out the inner leader that was hiding inside him. Well done, gents.
Tomorrow’s tailgate is an early one, with another noon start on the schedule. That’s ok. You’re used to getting up early on Saturday by now and you’re familiar with just how hard you have to go in order to be ready by the noon kickoff. Plus, The Game is often a noon start, so you’re used to that as well. There’s no need to pace yourself this week. It’s a sprint, not a marathon. No matter what time you get up, game time will be here before you know it, so it’s important to prep tonight to maximize tomorrow’s enjoyment. It’s time to find out what we’re serving up for The Game.
Today’s tailgatin’ gives not one damn for the whole state of Michigan, because we’re from Ohio. Because this is the greatest rivalry in sports, it’s more important than ever to set a good base, especially if you’re going to the game. You must be loud throughout the entirety of the contest. To do that, you have to power through to the end, and that requires energy. Where shall we find such energy? It’s an early game, of course, so here is a time saver: breakfast at Wendy’s. The hamburger giant was founded in Columbus and is now headquartered in Dublin, so you’re getting pure Ohio flavor (and grease) here. I’m all about the biscuit sandwiches, but I’ve been meaning to try the Mornin’ Melt Panini. Let’s all give that a try, shall we? If you’re feeling more high brow you can get your breakfast on at Columbus-based Bob Evans.
During your pregame, stock up on chips and snacks from the Buckeye state. Mike-Sells, based in Dayton, has a variety of chips, pretzels and cheese curls that’ll do the job. Likewise, there is Conn’s out of Zanesville, with an assortment of potato chips that will lay a good foundation for your day’s drinking. Outside the Buckeye state these may be hard to come by. A large part of The Game is the spirit of the thing. As such, do your best to replicate these Ohio-born snacks and just pour them into bowls to eliminate the sight of the decidedly un-Ohio packaging. Have plenty of Buckeye candy on hand, too.
Annually, Ohio is one of the nation’s top producers of pork. That’s excellent for us this week because we can stay true to Ohio and still honor opposing coach Brady Hoke. Yup, we’re making pork chops. Whether you prefer the center cut (with a T-shaped bone), rib cut or boneless, pork chops are delicious and juice when prepared correctly. There are multiple ways to do this, so pork chops are also quite versatile. Here’s a good pork chop primer with a lot of good information on how not to dry out your chops. I tend to get thinner chops because they’re more affordable and against the advice of the article I grill them on high heat, but they take only like two minutes per side. I haven’t had any problems with dryness. My method includes brushing on a light coat of olive oil, then seasoning simply with salt and pepper. Some people like to add sage or other herbs and spices and that’s fine. As I said, there are many ways to make good pork chops. Augment this main dish with some Ohio sweet corn.
This is a great week for the two-deep. If you’re short on dough or in a hurry there are lots of options. It’s all about Ohio so you can stop at Wendy’s, White Castle or Skyline Chili. You could order a Donato’s pizza. You could grab something cheap at your local Kroger. Some of these businesses (other than Wendy’s) may not be available in your area. That’s ok. Do the best you can. As mentioned earlier, it’s the spirit of this weekend that counts most.
The Great Lakes Brewing Company has been an institution of finely brewed products since 1988. Your mission this week is to find yourself some of their eagerly anticipated Christmas Ale. This outstanding holiday ale tinged with honey, ginger and cinnamon is a winner—literally. It has captured gold at the 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009 World Beer Championships, and the silver medal in 1999 and 2012. In addition to Ohio, Great Lakes distributes in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, TSUN, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington D.C. They have a handy beer finder if you need help. If you can’t specifically locate the Christmas Ale, try their award-winning Blackout Stout or the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, though I also enjoy their lagers or the Burning River Pale Ale. Not available in your area? Try these other Ohio breweries. If none are available, well, Yuengling is the old standby, and if that isn’t available, just grab some of your favorite local micro brew.
Ramzy says this week’s #SituationalBourbon is none other than Pappy Van Winkle—the 20-year variety. We wish you the best of luck finding it. There’s Buckeye Vodka, of course. We’ve got cocktails too. There’s the Ohio Cocktail, the Ohio State Redeye (shouldn’t that be scarlet?), the Buckeye Blitz, and the Buckshot. There’s also the Buckeye martini, which is just a regular martini with a black olive instead of a green one.
It’s all about celebrating the state of Ohio this weekend and for that reason we’re not giving you a standard album. This deviation from the norm will allow you to build a mixtape (or CD) or the modern equivalent, the playlist. Construct your playlist with extra care, using the finest sons and daughter of Ohio ever to record their tunes. The playlist should include your favorite tracks from TBDBITL and it absolutely must include the work of Fort Recovery’s Rick Derringer. Not only was Derringer a member of The McCoys, recording “Hang on Sloopy” when he was just 17, but he also released a blistering version of “Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo” in 1970. Derringer’s fine work didn’t stop there. He has recorded with Steely Dan, Todd Rundgren, and Alice Cooper, and has even worked with “Weird Al” Yankovic, Cyndi Lauper and Kiss. Some of you may know him as the man who recorded “Real American,” the theme song of Hulk Hogan. (My GOD, that’s Hulk Hogan’s music!)
Your playlist is elastic in both size and variety. We recommend Dayton’s Ohio Players, and their hits “Fire” and “Love Rollercoaster.” You can choose from a variety of artists: the Black Keys, Devo, the Dazz Band, Heatwave, the O’Jays, the Isley Brothers, Eric Carmen and the Raspberries, Joe Walsh and/or the James Gang, Phil Keaggy, Boz Skaggs, Marilyn Manson, Over the Rhine, and the Michael Stanley Band (in fact, please do put “My Town” on your playlist). If country is your thing, you’ve got Rascal Flatts and Dwight Yoakum, who both have direct ties to our beloved university, or David Allan Coe or Johnny Paycheck. You could even choose Toledo’s Anita Baker or Canton’s Macy Gray (but don’t). Other musicians you can include are Kim Deal (The Breeders), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Them Crooked Vultures), Maynard James Keenan (Tool), Jani Lane (Warrant), and Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders)—all are from Ohio.
We’ll also accept songs about Ohio or with Ohio in the name, or even tunes that are tangentially about the Buckeye State. For example, yes “Cuyahoga” by R.E.M. is acceptable. “Cleveland Rocks” by Presidents of the United States of America (or by Ian Hunter) is also fine. Here is an incomplete list of songs about Ohio. Make it Ohio’s day. Let’s bring this home.
Enjoy the game, and enjoy music both from and about Ohio.