COLUMBUS — This time, there was no LeBron.
But as Ohio State hosted its second night game for the first time in program history Saturday against Penn State, the Buckeyes rolled out the usual prime-time pomp and sizzle.
Fireworks. Chrome-helmeted alternate uniforms. A section’s worth of top recruits.
More than three dozen recruits were expected to be part of the sold-out crowd, including a pair of five-star prospects: Raekwon McMillan — a Georgia linebacker believed to be the Buckeyes’ top uncommitted target in the Class of 2014 — and Texas cornerback Tony Brown. Both are ranked by Rivals.com among the nation’s top 20 overall recruits.
As for the under-the-lights setting, get used to it.
Before this season, Ohio State had always erred on the conservative side, citing costs, safety concerns, and fan convenience for hosting only 12 night games at the 91-year-old Horseshoe. The school even refused to add permanent lights.
With Big Ten teams allowed to play three night games per year, coach Urban Meyer wants two of those prime-time showdowns at Ohio Stadium. His thinking: The quaking atmosphere not only offers a greater home-field advantage and wows recruits but the late starts allow more prospects to attend games.
The six home noon kickoffs last year were hardly accommodating to out-of-state players who had high school games on Friday night.
OSU also beat Wisconsin before a late-night home crowd that included NBA star LeBron James earlier this month.
SCHUTT IN: Defensive tackle Tommy Schutt got the start in his second game back after missing the first six weeks with a broken foot.
Schutt, who opened training camp as the Buckeyes’ top line reserve, played in about a dozen plays last week against Iowa. “He actually did pretty good,” Meyer said. “You’ll see more of him [Saturday].”
EXTRA POINTS: The Buckeyes’ uniforms included scarlet, gray, and … pink. Players wore pink gloves, wristbands, and socks to promote Breast Cancer Awareness month. … Former Buckeyes and NFL star left tackle Orlando Pace was honored for his recent induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. A two-time All-American, the player they called the “Pancake Man” did not allow a sack during his final two seasons and was fourth in the 1996 Heisman Trophy vote — the highest finish by a lineman since 1980. “Orlando Pace is not only the best offensive lineman I have ever coached, but he is the best I have ever seen,” former OSU coach John Cooper said. “Every game was a highlight reel for him. We ran a lot of counter sweeps and a lot of screens, and on many of those plays Orlando had to be out in front of the ball carrier, and we had some pretty good ball carriers… I don’t know how you could play the position any better than he did. He was just a fantastic football player. He was the best.” … OSU recognized Grant Reed, the 12-year-old Buckeyes fan who named his cancer “Michigan” — and beat it. Reed led the stadium in a pregame “OH-IO” cheer.