The crowd of 102,989 in attendance Saturday for Ohio State's 28-10 win over Troy is sure to grow in the coming years, at least if Terrelle Pryor continues to deliver on the promise he showed his that afternoon in the Horseshoe.
Making his first start as a Buckeye, Pryor threw four touchdown passes and looked in command most of the afternoon, giving plenty of people reason to claim they were attendance for the start of a new era in Ohio State football, whether they were truly there or not.
Perhaps the last person to ask for flowery words about the five-star freshman was Pryor himself, though.
"I messed up on a lot of things," he said afterwards. "Once we get in the film room, I'll be getting in trouble but that's a good thing. There's always a lot of room to get better. I've got a lot of things to do to get better."
The crush of reporters who had just witnessed him complete 10 of 16 passes for 139 yards and four touchdowns along with a lone interception remained skeptical, however, and continued to ask about how it felt to play so well and look so good doing it. "I mean, it's football," he said when asked about being nervous early. "The first snap was a handoff so I got all the jitterbugs out and it was fine." But four touchdown passes, a single-game school record for a freshman and tied for the second most in Ohio State history, what about those?
"It's a good thing but we've got bigger fish to fry," he said. "We've got a Big Ten team (Minnesota) coming in here 4-0 next week. We've got to be ready for that."
Pryor seemed almost relieved to be able to talk about his mistakes, which were few and far between.
One he noted was taking a 16-yard loss on a third down late in the second quarter.
The Buckeyes had the ball at the Troy 28-yard line and needed eight yards for a first down. With his team ahead 14-10, Pryor first rolled left toward the sideline, then evaded a couple of tacklers while reversing field back toward the center of the field where eventually he was corralled by Brandon Lang for a sack and a 16-yard loss that knocked Ohio State out of field goal range.
"Like right there, I could have thrown the ball away just to help us out," he said. Pryor lamented that his miscue prevented his team from being able to stretch its lead back to seven points before the half.
He did not mention that an indirect result was also his only interception of the day, a Hail Mary pulled down by Tavares Williams in the end zone after time expired in the first half. Instead, he said he was more concerned with leaving the defense to face more do-or-die possessions in the second half as Troy continually got the ball with the chance to take the lead with just one jaunt to the end zone.
"Little things like that – I could have thrown the ball away and we'd be kicking a field goal," he said.
"I threw bad balls. Just because I threw four touchdowns doesn't mean I'm the greatest thing. I'm not, by far. I've got so much more to learn. Some of them balls could have been bad, but you've got great receivers Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie so I mean they make you look good."
Pryor finished the day having completed 10 of 16 passes for 139 yards. He ran 14 times for 66 yards. Hartline hauled in two of Pryor's touchdown passes, one for 39 yards and another for 16, while Robiskie had a 38-yard score from the freshman. Tight end Rory Nicol kicked things off with a 13-yard touchdown catch from Pryor in the first quarter.
Even Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, a former quarterback himself who admittedly grades his old position with a skeptical eye, expressed few concerns with how his young pupil performed. Asked what the freshman did wrong, Tressel did not even use an example of anything Pryor did on the field.
"There was one time when we were out there getting ready to start a drive and he wasn't in the huddle on the side line," Tressel said. "We couldn't find him. He was back there counseling somebody. So I would like him to be up there. That's one do-over I'd like to have."