The Ohio State Buckeyes have been the dominate team in the Big Ten Conference the last decade and have a National Championship to their credit in 2015. The Bowling Green Falcons have won three consecutive Mid- Conference east division titles, and were MAC Champs in 2013 and 2015.
But that's where the similarities end for these two schools that sit 120 miles and a two-hour drive apart. Ohio State's roster is filled with highly sought after, five-star and four-star recruits. Bowling Green's roster has two-star and three-star recruits that couldn't get a look from most Power Five Conference schools.
Ohio State's football budget NET PROFITS will approach $50 million in 2016, while Bowling Green's total SPEND on athletics, all men's and women's sports, will total just $12 million and the department will struggle to break even.
Despite those and other huge disparities between the two programs, their games against each other have been remarkably competitive on the field. The Buckeyes had gone 58 years without playing a single game against an in-state opponent, when they played the Falcons for the first time ever in 1992.
The Buckeyes and Falcons meet again in 1997 and that started a precedent of the Buckeyes playing an in-state school every year for the next 15 years straight. Most of those schools were MAC schools and the games made so much sense, keeping millions of dollars in revenue in the state of Ohio.
Ohio State won every one of those in-state games the last 15 years and in fact, haven't lost to an in-state school since 1921 when they lost to Oberlin, 7-6. Since that loss, the Buckeyes are 45-0-1 against in-state schools, with all of those being played at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
With a streak like that, it's easy to understand why oddsmakers have installed Ohio State as a 27-point favorite when they take on Bowling Green on September 3 to open the 2016 season in Columbus. But, history reminds us that these games are not played on paper.
Yes, Bowling Green is 0-4 against the Buckeyes all time, but probably has played them as tough as any in-state opponent has the last 95 years. The past two season, the Falcons have beaten Big Ten foes Indiana, Maryland and Purdue. Obviously, Ohio State is a huge step up in competition in the Big Ten ranks, but expect the Falcons to come to play and not just be looking to cash that million dollar check for scheduling this game.
Here is a rundown of the last four games the Buckeyes and Falcons have played, all in Columbus.
October 7, 2006 (1) OSU 35 Bowling Green 7
The top ranked Buckeyes got a three touchdown performance from eventual Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, enroute to a convincing win in Columbus. Antonio Pittman had two rushing touchdowns for Ohio State as well.
Anthony Turner hit Corey Partridge with a 12 yard pass for the Falcons only score. Chris Bullock led Bowling Green on the ground with 72 yards on 21 carries.
Rory Nicol, Ray Small and Ted Ginn, Jr. caught the touchdown passes from Smith for the Buckeyes.
September 20, 2003 (5) OSU 24 Bowling Green 17
The 5th ranked Buckeyes needed a late defensive stop to get past the determined Falcons in Columbus. Lydell Ross scored his second rushing touchdown to give the Buckeyes a seemingly comfortable 24-7 lead with under nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
However, the Falcons scored 10 quick points on a touchdown pass from Josh Harris to Cole Magner and a 33-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham. That made the score 24-17 with 1:46 left to play. The Falcon defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing series and the Falcons got the ball back with 42 seconds left.
Another long pass play fromand Magner had the Falcons in Buckeye territory with just 22 seconds left. Buckeye defensive back Will Allen then intercepted a pass to put the game away for the Buckeyes.
Ross and Maurice Hall would both have over 100 yards rushing for Ohio State, whilewould finish 33 of 54 for 326 yards passing with two touchdowns. Manger would finish with 13 receptions for 168 yards.
September 13, 1997 (9) OSU 44 Bowling Green 13
With the game close at the half (24-13), the Buckeyes pulled away from the Falcons in the second half on their way to a convincing 44-13 win. Pepe Pearson and Michael Wiley did the damage on the ground for Ohio State, while Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine both had touchdown passes. The Buckeyes amassed 428 yards in total offense and Wiley had a 100 yard kick-off return for a score.
A Bob Niemet to Damron Hamilton touchdown pass, and a 45-yard field goal by Jason Strasser pulled the Falcons to within 17-13 late in the second quarter, but the Buckeyes dominated the rest of the way. David Boston caught two second half touchdown passes for Ohio State.
September 12, 1992 (22) OSU 17 Bowling Green 6
The Buckeyes defense dominant the Falcons, intercepting Bowling Green quarterback Erik White four times. The Falcons did however get on the board first when White rushed nine yards for a touchdown to start the second quarter after the Falcons had intercepted Buckeye quarterback Bobby Hoying. The extra point failed and the Falcons had a 6-0 lead, but would not score again in the game.
The Buckeye offense could not do much either, as senior Kurt Herbstreit started the game and then split time with freshman Hoying at quarterback. Short touchdown runs by Eddie George and Raymontwas all the scoring the Buckeyes needed in the hard fought 17-6 victory, in the very first meeting between the two schools.
The Falcons outgained the Buckeyes in total offense, 277 to 237, but the four interceptions and another two fumbles were too much to overcome.