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Buckeye Fans Have No Doubt Ohio State Will Win The Championship

KAREN KASLER, BYLINE: Hey, Tom, our incredibly cute mascot, Brutus Buckeye, knows of a great tree in Oregon. That buckeye tree is on the University of Oregon campus. It was planted 57 years ago after Ohio State beat Oregon in the Rose Bowl. So Buckeye fans here in Columbus have no doubts about who will win this game.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: O-H-I-O.

KASLER: Three dozen tough fans braved frigid cold and snow flurries to cheer on the team as they left for the game. Bridget Mahoney drove two hours from Cincinnati.

BRIDGET MAHONEY: This is a compelling story, a compelling team. They've risen from adversity two, three, four times. They are just the pride and joy of Ohio.

KASLER: That pride follows the last two huge wins in the Big Ten championship and against number one, Alabama, led by third-string quarterback Cardale Jones. That's right, Tom, third-stringer. He came in after second-string QB J.T. Barrett broke his ankle. Buckeye fans are everywhere. Ohio State alum Mark Heitz is flying to the game from - wait for it - Dubai.

MARK HEITZ: Because it's the Buckeyes. You know, why not? Probably once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so jump on the plane and 16 and a half hours later, we'll land in Dallas and get ready for the game.

KASLER: The game is such a big deal that 15-year-old Jack Hendrix started an online petition asking the state to close all schools tomorrow. It got nearly 49,000 signatures and a call from Ohio's governor.

JACK: He invited me to go to the gala on Monday to watch the game, which I kind of thought that was a little ironic.

KASLER: Governor John Kasich is being sworn in for a second term today. And tonight's inaugural party has essentially become a black-tie tailgate with big-screen TVs for guests who don't want to miss the game. OSU fan Don Cary loves his Buckeyes so much, he wrote a song just for this game.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SUGAR BOWL SONG")

DON CARY: (Singing) Go Bucks, beat Ducks.

KASLER: For NPR News, I'm Karen Kasler, class of 1995, the Ohio State University Columbus. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.