3:30 PM ET, October 7, 2006
Ohio Stadium, COLUMBUS, OH
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Bowling Green coach Gregg Brandon isn't expecting much support for his Falcons when they face No. 1 Ohio State.
"I'll guarantee you that Saturday there's not going to be too many cheering for us," Brandon said, thinking only of those 100,000-plus scarlet-and-gray souls crammed into Ohio Stadium.
He couldn't be more wrong.
There will be lots of people in places such as Auburn, Ala., Morgantown, W.Va., and Gainesville, Fla., rooting like crazy for the Falcons. They may not know where Bowling Green is -- it's just a short drive south of Toledo -- but they do know if the Falcons can pull off a colossal upset, No. 1 will be up for grabs.
How unlikely is a Bowling Green victory? The Falcons are 35-point underdogs and no Ohio school has beaten the mighty Buckeyes since the Yeomen of Oberlin hung a 7-6 setback on them in 1921.
Ohio State has gone 31-0-1 against schools within the state's borders since. The Buckeyes refrained from playing any in-state schools from 1934 (a 76-0 victory over Western Reserve) until 1992, when economics made it necessary and prudent to start again.
The Falcons, of the Mid-American Conference, will receive $650,000 for the short road trip.
"I've told our players it's probably a once-in-a-lifetime shot, to play a game like this," Brandon said.
Ohio State (5-0) is coming off a brutal first month in which it played three ranked teams (No. 2 Texas, No. 24 Penn State, No. 13 Iowa), two on the road.
So far, it's been no contest. The Buckeyes are averaging just over 32 points a game while holding opponents to under 10 points a game.
The Bowling Green game is the first of six for Ohio State leading up to what could be a huge Big Ten showdown on Nov. 18 against archrival Michigan. Before getting to that game, however, the Buckeyes play the Falcons (3-2) and then the bottom five teams in the Big Ten -- Michigan State, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois and Northwestern.
To keep their players motivated, Ohio State's coaches have turned practices into boot camp.
"It was almost a shocker to some of the guys' systems out there on the field because we got after it," defensive tackle Joel Penton said after an early week practice. "We're not taking these guys [the Falcons] lightly and we're not going to take anybody lightly this year. We're going to continue to work as hard as we possibly can."
The Buckeyes know they'd never hear the end of it from Lake Erie to the Ohio River if they were to lose. They also know the Falcons have plenty of incentive.
"There's always guys on MAC teams or teams from anywhere around Ohio that feel they were good enough to come here and play -- and it might be true," Ohio State receiver Roy Hall said. "Those guys always feel like they've got a chip on their shoulders and they want to prove that they could be playing here. A lot of times they come in here and they're geeked up for the first quarter or the second quarter, but as the game wears on those emotions go out the door and it all comes down to execution."
Ohio State almost got blindsided the last time Bowling Green came to town in 2003. The Buckeyes were just a year removed from winning the national championship, were ranked No. 5 in the nation and had the longest winning streak in Division I-A at 17 games in a row.
Yet the Falcons hung around before coming up short, 24-17. Ohio State's Will Allen intercepted a Josh Harris pass on the final play to preserve the victory.
But a lot has changed since then.
"That team I brought in there in '03 was a veteran team. There were 22 seniors," Brandon said of the squad that went on to win the MAC's West Division title.
Only three players from that game are back for the Falcons, who have played 25 freshmen in their first five games.
"Getting them ready to play in that venue will be a huge challenge," Brandon said.
Top 25 Overview
Talk about your Script Ohio. The top-ranked Buckeyes have won 22 straight games against in-state opponents.
|Avg Points Allowed||30.8||9.3|