COLUMBUS, Ohio (Sept. 11) — On Monday, five-time world champion drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. won the sport’s biggest event when he captured the crown of the 55th annual U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Now the 61-time national event winner hopes his good fortune carries over to his favorite football team — the Ohio State Buckeyes — when they play perhaps their biggest game of the year against USC at 8 p.m., Saturday, at Ohio Stadium.

“This is a huge game for the Buckeyes, especially this early in the season,” said Coughlin, a lifelong resident of Columbus who is one of four brothers that own and operate JEGS High Performance Mail Order in Delaware, Ohio. “It’s really going to set the tone for the season.

“The rankings have USC at No. 3 and our Buckeyes at No. 8. The thing is we were a bit of an underdog at the start of the U.S. Nationals. In fact, we were ranked 12th overall. But when the race itself started we dug down and found a way to win. I expect the Buckeyes to show very well and hopefully get the win as well.”

Coughlin didn’t have to wait long after his NHRA-leading seventh victory of the season to be reminded of Saturday’s big game.

“A fan came up to us in the winner’s circle and handed me a scarlet and gray ‘Beat USC’ T-shirt and I climbed up on the roof of my racecar and showed the world where my loyalties lie. That was pretty neat.”

As always, Coughlin and his regular cadre of friends will swing by local landmark Tommy’s Pizza for a pie before the game. Then it’s off to the stadium to become part of the 12th man that Coughlin believes could be the difference in the game.

“Both of these schools have such storied and successful football aprograms,” Coughlin said. “I expect this game to be a very close contest from start to finish. The difference very well could be the Buckeye faithful and how much noise we can make to root on our boys. They need to know we’re behind them all the way.”

Coughlin is the favorite to win the NHRA Full Throttle championship after completing the regular season in the No. 1 position in the points. Should he manage to retain the crown, it will be his third straight. The six-race NHRA playoffs begin Sept. 18-20 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte.


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