Before Brutus Buckeye, before the "Horseshoe" and multiple national championships, Ohio State University football was born on the banks of Delaware Run.

Before Brutus Buckeye, before the "Horseshoe" and multiple national championships, Ohio State University football was born on the banks of Delaware Run.

On May 3, 1890, student athletes from Ohio State University traveled by horse and wagon to a grassy valley between Delaware Run and a nearby sulfur spring to battle Ohio Wesleyan University in the first official football game for either team.

The result, which is known through the writings of an Ohio Wesleyan graduate who played in the game, was a 20-14 Ohio State victory.

Since then, Ohio State has gone on to a 798-303-53 record, and has earned seven national championships.

The field on which it all started remains a grassy valley unchanged by development or the sands of time. Next Saturday, local historians will attempt to forever capture its significance by marking the site of Ohio State and Ohio Wesleyan's inaugural game with a plaque.

"With the feelings people have toward Ohio State football -- we call it Buckeye Nation -- we knew this would be historically worth noting," said Brent Carson, a retired Delaware City Schools teacher, local historian, Delaware County Historical Society president and chairman of the city of Delaware's bicentennial committee. "It all started here."

The plaque will be unveiled following a 1:30 p.m. performance by the bands and cheerleaders of both schools. It is part of the year-long, joint bicentennial celebration marking the 200th birthday of Delaware County and the city of Delaware.

As part of the bicentennial festivities, officials and residents from the county, the city, the Delaware County Historical Society and others have been identifying key moments in county and city history. They are commemorating those events and places with 10 plaques that are being funded through contributions from National City and Kroger Co.

At 2 p.m., Ohio Wesleyan athletic director Roger Ingles will take to the microphone and he and incoming OWU president Rockwell Jones will share highlights from OWU history. Ohio State president Gordon Gee, athletic director Gene Smith, current football coach Jim Tressel and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin will be among those on hand to represent the Buckeyes.

"We're very excited to have some recognition for some of the historic moments of Ohio State football," said Shelly Poe, director of athletic communications for Ohio State. "Football is a great part of the Ohio State tradition.

"The fact that this is the place is where it all started is something that's unique and exciting. We're glad they're doing this."

Carson said an OWU graduate who participated in the inaugural game recounted the moment in writing when he returned for the university's May Day festivities in 1942.

The writings note that OWU participated in some non-official games prior to the match-up with OSU. The first official game also was the first opportunity female students were granted to witness football competition.

"It was significant enough that they allowed women to attend for the first time," Carson said. "They thought football was not something women should be watching at the time.

"For this game, they sat on the hillside."

In addition to limited playbooks, Carson said geographical problems also presented themselves during the game.

"The ball, they said, frequently went into the creek, which was one reason they moved the field," he said. "The banks are steep on the side of the creek, so you could see why that would be a problem."

Carson said local officials expect a large turnout of OWU and OSU backers for the plaque dedication. He recommends that people come early to the site across from Selby Stadium on Henry Street.

For those who miss the event, however, the plaque will serve as an enduring tribute to the game, the birth of Ohio State's football prominence and Delaware's place in the historic moment.

"The plaque will be along a walk by the field," Carson said. "As the years pass, people will walk past the spring and the plaque will be situated right there."

nellis@thisweeknews.com