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The Ohio University Football fans cheer on as OHIO plays Long Island State Football at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio on Saturday Sept. 2, 2023.

Football Column: Why Power 5 teams should play Group of 5 teams on the road

This weekend, Power Five programs like Alabama, Wake Forest, Oklahoma and Iowa State will travel to take on Group of Five opponents. Power Five vs. Group of Five games happen every year and early in the season, they happen many times a week. What's irregular about Ohio's matchup against Iowa State is that the game is taking place at the Group of Five team's campus. Regularly in College Football, Power Five teams will pay Group of Five teams to travel to their home stadiums so that they can (typically) win an easy game.

However, over the last few seasons, Power Five teams have agreed to play “home-and-home” matchups. An example of this is displayed between Ohio and Iowa State. Ohio traveled to Aimes in 2022 and lost against Iowa State. This season, Iowa State will return the favor by coming to Athens.

The second alternative obviously makes a lot of sense for the Group of Five teams. Not only will Ohio generate revenue from fans attending its game against Iowa State, but the game will also provide exposure to the university and its home stadium from the greater number of fans watching the game due to interest in Iowa State as a Power Five program.

However, from a Power Five school's perspective, the pros outweigh the cons. For starters, Power Five programs avoid the hefty fee of paying smaller schools to come to their stadiums and the potential embarrassment of having to pay that fee after getting beaten by a Group of Five opponent.

From an on-the-field perspective, a Power Five at Group of Five matchup provides a unique opportunity. As a lifelong Purdue fan who attended many home games, there was a much different feeling when Purdue hosted Maryland than when they hosted Ohio State. The atmosphere is different when fans have a chip on their shoulders. If a program plans on being great, it better get used to going on the road and being the biggest game of its opponent's season.

Maybe Iowa State will not need to get used to going against a rowdy crowd in its opponent's biggest home game this season, but it might in future seasons.

For a school like Iowa State, which has already played two non-conference home games, it has already generated revenue from early-season home games. From this point, Iowa State could play a road game against a smaller Power Five opponent in front of a half-full crowd where it could easily pick up a loss. Or the Cyclones could go on the road and play in front of a sold-out crowd and be tested against a highly motivated Ohio team.

I would take the second option every Saturday in September.


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