GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Bowling Green State University will open the 2012 football season nearly 1,000 miles away from home today as it takes on No. 23 Florida.
But for 12 Falcons, this contest feels like "home."
BG has 12 players who hail from the Sunshine State, trailing only Ohio (44) and Michigan (13) in terms of home state for Falcon players. Bowling Green's 58-man two-deep chart includes seven Florida natives, including several -- like freshman wide receiver Chris Gallon -- who will play their first BG game in their home state.
"It's going to be a special moment," Gallon said. "The Swamp is a crazy place. I've been there a couple of times to watch a couple of games.
"The atmosphere is going to be ridiculous."
Another Florida native, sophomore running back Anthon Samuel, said he grew up a fan of the Miami Hurricanes, but still looks forward to the contest.
"I used to go all of [Miami's] games with my mother, but I've been in the Swamp before," he said. "The atmosphere is going to be great.
"When you are a kid, that's the type of game you dream of playing in."
Florida coach Will Muschamp said he doesn't think the Falcons will be a bothered by playing in Florida's loud, raucous home field as other teams might be.
"Their defense has 10 starters back, so they won't be in shock walking into this place," he said of BG. "And they have 12 kids from the state of Florida who I know will be excited to come back here."
Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said his players are excited for the opportunity.
"That is something we sold in recruiting the past three years," he said. "This is a national program that has won national championships, and we sold the opportunity to play in front of family and friends not too far away from home.
"And we're excited that we have recruited guys who want to play in that environment, that didn't back away from that."
Clawson knows his players will be nervous, but he also said the nerves won't be different than they would be before any other game.
"That's part of the reason you play these games: They are an opportunity to make a national name for yourself," he said. "We have two opportunities like that this year [Virginia Tech is the other], and this gives us an opportunity to be on a national stage and do something special."
But can the Falcons beat the Gators?
"Yeah," senior lineman Chip Robinson said without hesitation. "We've prepared for them for 250 days -- since we last played -- and I believe we have the talent and depth to give them a game."
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.