Ohio State Buckeyes Kicked Off Legacy With 1890 Game Against Ohio Wesleyan

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The vision for the Ohio State Buckeyes began in the 1870s.

It wasn’t until about 20 years later that the Buckeyes fielded their first game – against Ohio Wesleyan in 1890.

The Buckeyes won that game 20 to 14 under first head coach Alexander Lilley – the start of what would become one of the country’s elite football programs.

For the first two decades of Ohio State football, there were growing pains, which included losing seasons, a lopsided start in its rivalry with Michigan.

It would take nearly 30 years and 18 games before Ohio State would record a victory against Michigan.

“We joined the Big Ten back in 1912-13,” said Larry Romanoff, the director of football external operations for the Ohio State University. “We’re about to have our 100 years of being in the Big Ten.”

At the time OSU joined the Big Ten, it was known as the Western League. The league formed in 1896 with seven founding members, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Iowa and Indiana joined in 1900, and Ohio State brought the conference to 10 teams three years later.

Before OSU joined the league, students helped change the look.

From the very beginning, Ohio State’s colors were actually orange and black. Students called for the change, because other schools used the same colors.

Students also led to the team’s nickname, The Buckeyes. Even the university is not quite sure how long the athletic teams have been referred to as Buckeyes.

“The Buckeyes grove is located just south of the stadium,” Romanoff said. “They decided to plant a tree for the All Americans. You have to be a First Team All American to get a tree planted in your honor. If you go just south of the stadium, there is a whole walkway and a grove of, I believe, 126 players.”

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