BOWLING GREEN — For most of the Bowling Green State University football team, today’s contest won’t be a home game.
Sure, the Falcons will be the “home” team on the scoreboard and wear their home uniforms. Crew Stadium in Columbus, the site for their 2 p.m. game against Buffalo, will never be confused with Doyt Perry Stadium.
“It really is a road game — our home games are at Doyt Perry Stadium,” coach Dave Clawson said. “We’re handling it just as if it’s an away game.”
The reason for the home-on-the-road contest, which is being marketed as the “Black Friday Bash” in Columbus, is the desire to avoid the small crowds that have become a staple at season-ending Mid-American Conference contests, most of which are played on Black Friday.
“When you play a home game in the MAC, on the day after Thanksgiving — when your students aren’t there — you don’t draw people,” Clawson said. “You have a very small crowd.
“I think it’s proactive of our administration. You can sit there and say, ‘It’s the day after Thanksgiving and we won’t have a crowd’ or you do something different, something to engage our university and alumni. I think this is worth giving a shot.”
Moving to Columbus also allows Clawson to keep a commitment he made to the Columbus-area players he has recruited.
“We have a lot of good players from Columbus, and when I recruited them we were scheduled to play Ohio State,” Clawson said. “I was in their houses saying, ‘You will play a game in Columbus.’
“But when our game last year got moved … this gives our players from Columbus a chance to play in front of their friends and families.”
The Falcons have a number of Columbus-area players on both sides of the ball. The offense features tight end Alex Bayer and offensive lineman Alex Huettel, both from Pickerington; the defense includes safeties Ryland Ward (Brookhaven) and Jude Adjei-Barimah (Northland) along with cornerback DeVon McKoy (Eastwood), and kicker Tyler Tate is from Bloom-Carroll High School.
“Coming in, we were supposed to play against Ohio State, and [the players from Columbus] were looking forward to that,” Adjei-Barimah said. “So to be able to go back and play in front of family and friends — to have my old football coaches be able to watch me play at this level — is really exciting.
“To be able to showcase all our hard work, especially since we’re having success as a team, makes it an exciting opportunity.”
Even seniors such as offensive lineman Jordon Roussos, who lose out on playing their final regular-season game at Doyt Perry Stadium, are comfortable with the change in venue.
“It’s not the Doyt, and it’s not what we’re used to,” Roussos said. “But we’re playing football, and that’s all that matters to me. Getting another chance to play with my brothers [on this team] is all that matters."
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.