Buffalo-Bowling Green: The Columbus Experiment

Columbus Crew Stadium - Jamie Sabau

To end the regular season, the Falcons and Bulls are playing at a neutral site: Columbus Crew Stadium, over 100 miles from either school. The game is meaningless in the MAC standings, and played the day after Thanksgiving. Will this even work?

Here's what the team officials are banking on with what's being billed as the Black Friday Bash: that people in Columbus want to attend a football game in lieu of shopping in crowded, mindless outlet malls or connecting with distant relatives for a day. It is also true that BGSU's students hail from all over the state, including Columbus, and many settle after graduation into the state capital, so the hope is that for those who can't make it back to Wood County, they'll pony up for this game.

As for the allure of playing this game in a soccer stadium ... I can't see if that's a reasonable factor. There will be more seating, that's for sure. Perhaps it would behoove the fans to do soccer-style chants and wear those big gaudy scarves and eat apples or whatever the flip it is that soccer fans traditionally do. An X-factor here is all the folks in town for the Ohio State-Michigan game, which takes place the following day.

(I think FalconBlog wrote a fair and critical assessment of this game from a BGSU perspective back in March: it takes a home game away from not just the football team but season ticket holders. Some of it still holds true today. Had BGSU won last week, this game would be for a MAC East title. Think about that.)

For what it's worth, if I were in town I'd make it my business to attend.

And the real reason anyone should pay to see the game: odds are it's going to be close. BGSU-Buffalo does not amount to any serious rivalry in a geographical sense, but they've traded barbs over the years, playing Who Can Ruin The Other's Season In The Final Minute:

2006: This game went to triple-overtime with BGSU coming out on top 48-40 as the final play was a Buffalo fumble.

2008: After trailing by 20 points in the fourth quarter on the road, Buffalo rallied behind Drew Willy's arm and edged the Falcons 40-34 in double-overtime, helping them clinch the only MAC East title they've ever had.

2009: Likewise, BGSU was down 13 points on the road, then came from behind and won on a last-minute touchdown from Tyler Sheehan to Freddie Barnes. It guaranteed a non-winning season for Buffalo.

2010: A mistake-stricken game ended with Bowling Green shanking a potential game-winning field goal and Buffalo won 28-26.

So there's that. They play each other well. Buffalo does not roll over easily, so don't let the 4-7 record fool you. They're running the ball with success despite a small army's supply of ice-packs delivered to Branden Oliver's dorm room. They've come close many times against better teams, and this is an example of one they can win and assert themselves as a 2013 sleeper.

The Falcons are 7-4 and will play in a bowl game, but getting to an eighth win will help their positioning. Plus, defeated after last week against Kent State, I'm sure they'd like nothing more than to end the regular season with positive vibes.

If the game is lopsided, or if the attendance numbers fizzle, then we can look back and say, hey, this didn't work, nice try, and let's keep the games on the campuses whenever possible.

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