The time has finally come for the return of Ohio State football. With Bowling Green coming to town this weekend, it’s another time the Buckeyes have had a date with the Falcons in Columbus, Ohio.
Open up your history textbooks, as we begin to go through time and revisit the matchups between BGSU and OSU.
For the first time
The first time the Falcons faced off against the Buckeyes was back in 1992. Bowling Green was fresh off an 11-1 year in 1991 that included a win against rival Toledo, and a win in the California Bowl against Fresno State. Before the 1991 season, the Falcons suffered five straight losing seasons before hiring Gary Blackney to turn the tide in 1991.
Blackney, in his second season, was up against John Cooper – now in his fifth year of coaching at Ohio State. Like Blackney, Cooper guided the Buckeyes to a bowl game. However, Cooper lost said bowl game, the Hall of Fame Bowl, to Syracuse by a final score of 24-17.
Ohio State’s date with Bowling Green happened on Sept. 12, 1992 and occurred in Week 2 of the season. The Falcons were 1-0 after defeating Western Michigan, 29-19, and Ohio State was 1-0 after narrowly defeating Louisville, 20-19, at home.
Slated for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff, a modest 94,808 people walk through the turnstiles at The Shoe to witness Kirk Herbstreit and Eddie George take on the Falcons.
Bowling Green scored first in the second quarter by way of an Erik White 9-yard rush. The drive wasn’t a long one, as the Falcons first (and only) scoring drive began on the OSU 22 following a Bobby Hoying interception. There was a silver lining for the Buckeyes, though: BGSU’s extra point sailed wide right.
Eventually, the Buckeyes shifted their scoring machine into drive. A few minutes, and a couple of drives after the first score of the game, George found six-points by leaping over top of the offensive line – giving the scarlet and gray a 7-6 advantage heading into halftime.
In the third quarter, a fumble by White set up a Buckeye field goal. Tim Williams connected from 47 yards out to increase the home squad’s lead to 10-6. The following drive for Blackley’s squad stalled on their own 34, and led to Ohio State getting great field position following the punt. With a tired Bowling Green defense, Herbstreit guided the offense back to the BGSU redzone, which culminated with a Raymont Harris 7-yard rush to the house.
Down 17-6, the Falcons didn’t give up – but turnovers plagued scoring chances. Right after the Harris TD, BGSU went on a 14-play excursion to the Buckeye redzone. However, faced with a 4th-and-goal from the OSU 6, White could only come up with three yards. After the turnover on downs, the Falcons only had one other drive that didn’t end with a turnover.
Ohio State came out victorious, 17-6, in the first meeting between the two schools.
A Wiley Time
In the second edition of Buckeyes-Falcons in 1997, both Cooper and Blackney were still in charge of their respectful teams, but the trajectories were completely different.
Bowling Green had slumped since the start of the Blackney era. The 1995 and 1996 campaigns were sub-.500 years, and 1997 had the feeling that it wasn’t going to end up any better. To start of the 1997 campaign, Blackney’s Falcons lost to Louisiana Tech on the road, 30-23.
On the other side, the Buckeyes were the defending Rose Bowl champions, and opened up the 1997 season with a win against Wyoming. Entering their matchup with Bowling Green, Ohio State touted the No.9 ranking in the AP Poll.
From the start, things were shaky for the Falcons. A three-and-out gave the Buckeyes prime field position around the 50. Quarterback Stanley Jackson drove the Buckeyes down the field, and set up Dan Shultz for a 47-yard field goal. BGSU did retaliate with a 12-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in three points.
At this point, things snowballed out of control for the visitors – and that 3-3 tie was the closest they would come to beating the Buckeyes.
The ensuing kickoff landed in the hands of Michael Wiley at the goal line. From there, Wiley pulled off a 100-yard dash, and housed the Garrett Fowler kick. Bowling Green started their next drive on the OSU 36 following a great return from Leon Weathersby. However, the first play of the drive featured quarterback Bob Niemet getting picked off by Buckeye Ahmed Plummer.
In the second quarter, running backs Pepe Pearson and Wiley carried the Buckeyes to another touchdown, as the scarlet and gray were pulled away 17-3. The Falcons, weren’t done, though. Niemet connected for a 29 yard touchdown to Damron Hamilton, and a Buckeye fumble on a kickoff led to three more points being added to Bowling Green’s total.
With the score 17-13 late in the second quarter, the Buckeyes had to apply the afterburners. Joe Germaine stepped into the QB role, and got OSU an insurance touchdown in the waning moments before halftime by way of a deep out pass to Dee Miller from 29 yards out.
At the halfway point, John Cooper’s squad held a 24-13 advantage – and didn’t look back. The third quarter began with Ohio State getting great field position because of a short kickoff. Pearson did his thing on the ground, while Jackson went to the air to collect yardage. It took six plays for the Buckeyes to find the endzone again.
As Ohio State eased the pressure on offense, the Falcon offense stalled repeatedly. In the early minutes of the fourth quarter, Bowling Green needed a touchdown to get back into the game. Faced with a 4th-and-15 on the OSU 34, Blackney elected to go for the first down. The decision to go for it made sense, but the Buckeye defense was having none of a Falcon comeback. OSU defender Jerry Rudzinski got around the Bowling Green protection, and sacked Niemet for a loss of 14. With the ball now on their own 48, the Buckeyes took advantage of the short field; Jackson ended the drive by hitting David Boston for a touchdown.
Bowling Green materialized a couple three-and-out followed by a fumble on their final three drives. Stultz and the Buckeyes capitalized on the sluggish Falcon ending by putting two more field goals through the uprights.
The second contest ended with Ohio State finishing on top, 44-13. This would be the final time Blackney and Cooper would face each other as coaches of their respective teams.
“And Ohio State hangs on, again”
The third installment of Ohio State-Bowling Green featured Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes fresh off a national championship. Leading up to this one, Senator Tressel’s tradmark style of football featured narrow wins against San Diego State and then-No.24 NC State in Columbus.
Bowling Green just lost their up-and-coming head coach, Urban Meyer, to Utah, and brought in Gregg Brandon to lead the charge. Brandon’s first three games at the helm were solid victories; he won his opener against Eastern Kentucky, 63-13, and defeated a top 20 Purdue team in West Lafayette.
If Bowling Green was going to pull off the upset, this would’ve been their best chance. The Buckeyes were without running back Maurice Clarett due to a suspension and quarterback Craig Krenzel was out due to an injury sustained the week prior against NC State.
The Buckeyes first drive was collecting real estate from running back Lydell Ross, Drew Carter and a pretty accurate Scott McMullen. As the scarlet and gray found themselves in the redzone, disaster struck; McMullen completed a pass to Michael Jenkins, but the star receiver lost the ball after being hit by Jordan Jelani.
There was nothing to worry about, though. On the immediate drive, Bowling Green’s quarterback, Josh Harris, telegraphed a pass to Dustin Fox on the BGSU 29. Six plays later, McMullen found Drew Carter for a seven yard touchdown.
Like you’ve read in the previous part of this piece, the Falcons had always clawed their way back from an early deficit. The 2003 edition with the Buckeyes was no different. Right after Ohio State jumped to a 7-0 lead, Harris led his team down the field on a 13 play, 87-yard drive to knot the game at 7-7.
But, as more things change, the more things tend to stay the same. Turnovers have been the bugaboo for the brown and orange – as well as squandering premium opportunities from the Buckeyes – and 2003 kept to the status quo. After getting a gift of a fumble from Maurice Hall, Harris was sacked by Buckeye linebacker Bobby Carpenter and coughed the ball deep in their own territory. Tressel, as usual, manufactured three points on the board after starting at the BGSU 21.
However, The Sweater Vest did take some risks with play calling. Two drives after taking the 10-7 lead, Senator Tressel elected to go for it on a 4th-and-1 from the Bowling Green 33. Ross was given the rock and went straight up the middle; the hole that opened allowed for Ross to fly past the Falcon defense for a touchdown.
Entering halftime, the scarlet and gray were pulling away with a 17-7 lead – or at least they thought.
Foreshadowing is a tremendous thing. The third quarter featured an Ohio State interception immediately followed up with a Bowling Green interception. Most of the time in the penultimate frame was spent on a Buckeye drive that last a total of 7:15. The troubles continued for Brandon’s squad, as the tenacious defense concocted by Mark Dantonio (yes, that Mark Dantonio) marred any chance of a scoring drive. The fourth quarter arrived with Tressel’s boys leading comfortably 17-7.
With just over 11 minutes left in regulation, Ross opened up a drive with a nice carry of 13 yards; then, McMullen uncorked the fine wine of the deep ball and found Jenkins for a smooth 46-yard pick up. The ground game chipped away at the remaining 17 yards, punctuating the drive with Ross taking a pitch out from three yards out to the barn.
Normally, when you’re nursing a 17 lead with just a hair under nine minutes remaining, the win seems almost certain. Almost – only good with horse shoes and hand grenades.
The (Millennium) Falcon comeback was fast and furious; after a touchback, Harris marched his team 80 yards to pay dirt – which included a miraculous recovering of their own fumble courtesy of a play made by the late great Will Smith – and then the brown and orange collected their onside kick. The onside kick spotted Bowling Green at the Ohio State 44-yard line, but the Falcons couldn’t pull off the touchdown working with the short field. A Shaun Suisham field goal from 33 yards out cut the Buckeye lead to 24-17.
On the Buckeyes final drive, the park the bus mentality set in. A three-and-out gave BGSU one last chance to tie the game. Harris operated out of the shotgun formation for a majority of the drive, and was at least able to cross the Falcons into OSU territory. The comeback fell short as Harris threw an interception to Will Allen, who would run out the clock on the pick.
Again, the Buckeyes held on to beat the Falcons. This time, it was a little too close for comfort.
On the road to Phoenix
The fourth meeting between the two schools happened in 2006, the year Ohio State made it to the BCS Championship Game in Phoenix. This edition of the in-state battle took place on Oct. 7, 2006 – the latest these two have faced each other during a season.
The Buckeyes, at this point, were the No.1 team in the country. Prior to playing Bowling Green, the Buckeyes laid waste to ranked programs in Texas, Penn State and Iowa. The Falcons played Wisconsin to open their year, but lost, 35-14. Even though BGSU had Big Ten playing experience, it wasn’t enough to face the top ranked scarlet and gray.
By halftime, Ohio State was up 21-0. Troy Smith opened up the Buckeyes scoring ways early with a pass to Rory Nicol. On the ground, Antonio Pittman found the endzone twice, with both touchdowns coming from 8 yards out.
This going wasn’t anything close to what Brandon’s squad was able to assemble in 2003; there wasn’t going to be a furious comeback late in the game. Ohio State was at full strength, and primed to go the distance without letting the Falcons back into the game. The only thing Bowling Green could muster was a touchdown midway through the third quarter.
Even with a 21-7 lead entering the fourth quarter, Tressel’s team still took to the air for more points. Smith connected with Ray Small from 11 yards out to push the the lead to three touchdowns. Another stalled BGSU drive set up the Bucks for another score. This time around, Smith dialed long distance to the incomparable Ted Gin Jr. for a 57 yard strike.
In the box score, Bowling Green had only 50 yards less of total offense compared to Ohio State. However, the Buckeyes were able to score points when they had the opportunity. The loss in Columbus was the tipping point for Bowling Green’s season, as they only mustered one more win in their 2006 campaign.
In the now
The 2016 edition of Ohio State-Bowling Green is the fifth time these two schools will meet. As you have read, the Falcons have failed to put up a ‘W’ in the win column against the Buckeyes in their previous four tries. The Falcon faithful shouldn’t feel that down, though, because OSU has compiled a 32-1 record against MAC opponents.
This edition will be the second time Bowling Green introduces a first year coach to the Buckeyes. Mike Jinks makes his first appearance as the big cheese for the defending MAC champions after coming from Texas Tech, where he spent time as an associate head coach. Jinks has the honor of being the 105th coach to face OSU’s head cheese, Urban Meyer.
For Meyer, this will be the first time he faces off against the school that gave him his head coaching start. In his time spent on the Falcon sideline, Meyer collected a 17-6 record that includes a win on the road against Missouri in his ever game as coach, a win in the Battle of I-75 vs. Toledo and a win on the road against Kansas in his second year.
Obscure facts from the Ohio State-Bowling Green history (that will make people think you have no real life friends)
• The hottest it was when the game was played was: 77 degrees (1997)
• The coldest it was when the game was played: 65 degrees (2006)
• Longest elapsed time: 3:10 (2003)
• Latest start time: 3:40 p.m. (2006)
• Most Yards OSU rushed: 205 (2003)
• Most Yards OSU passed: 274 (1997)
• Most yards returned on kickoffs: 9-571 (1997)