Illustration by Alaina Dackermann

Homecoming History

Published October 5, 2023

Homecoming History

Football: Ohio Homecoming History

By Bobby Gorbett | Sports Editor

Homecoming Weekend celebrates current and former Bobcats with festivities like the pep rally, parade and other events for alums. The weekend is centered around the Homecoming football game, in which Ohio typically squares off against a Mid-American Conference opponent in front of a packed Peden crowd.

How much of a difference do the festivities make to the on-field product? At least on paper, a great deal. Since 2000, Ohio has had an impressive 14-8 record with its Homecoming games. Highlighted by a six-game winning streak from 2005-2010, Ohio students and alums returning for the game have been treated to many more wins than losses.

To understand Homecoming's impact on the team's success, context is necessary.

Ohio's recent Homecoming history can be split into two categories: From 2000-2010, Ohio had a 9-2 Homecoming game record. Ohio's spectacular play during the 2000s Homecoming games was highlighted by a dominant 38-10 win over Akron in 2010. Terrance McCrae and Boo Jackson set and tied career records in the game, respectively. For McCrae, his two touchdown catches made him the all-time career leader in touchdown receptions in school history. Jackson, meanwhile, threw a touchdown to tie for the most touchdowns in program history.

Although Ohio's run was very impressive, it makes more sense when considering some of the competition. From 2000-2010, Ohio's opponents combined for a record of 39-88 in the seasons that Ohio played them. In short, the opponent Ohio played for its Homecoming games in the 2000s had an average season record of 4-8. Although Ohio deserves credit for taking care of business against MAC opponents, its 9-28 record on Homecoming during the 2000s has more to do with its opponents than the festivities.

The second category, from 2011-2022, tells a different story about Ohio's success in the Homecoming game. Ohio is 5-6 for its Homecoming games since 2011, including multiple close losses and eventual bowl-eligible MAC teams.

Toward the end of the Frank Solich era, the Bobcats' Homecoming woes had more to do with some late-game heartbreak than poor performances. The Bobcats lost by a field goal in four of Solich's five final Homecoming game losses. In Solich's last Homecoming game, the Bobcats surrendered 17 fourth-quarter points in a 39-36 loss to Northern Illinois.

Albin's teams have started out 1-1 for Homecoming games, including a 2021 3-point loss to Central Michigan, a team that has been a thorn in Ohio's side for Homecoming. Last year, as part of Ohio's yearlong defense of “The Frank,” the team picked up a 55-34 win over Akron. Rourke threw for over 400 yards with three touchdowns and an efficient 88.8% completion percentage.

It's easy to think the Homecoming event would only help a football team. With a packed crowd and the excitement surrounding the festivities leading up to the game, the team should be energized by the galvanized community.

Ohio Head Coach Tim Albin talked about the positives of Homecoming.

"You get a few more texts from alum. They come back for Homecoming," Albin said. "From the build-up, the kegs and eggs and all the stuff uptown you hear about, it's an exciting time."

There is a downside, however. With all of the other festivities going on throughout the week, it's easy for players to get caught up in the hype rather than the task at hand: the football game.

"There's a few more distractions from Homecoming than there are from a regular season game," Albin said. "So, as a staff, you're going to have your ear to the railroad track on it."

So what's the answer? Does Homecoming help or hurt Ohio's chances to win Saturday's game? According to Albin, it doesn't make a difference.

"I don't think it's (Homecoming) going to have a bearing," Albin said. "We've got enough veterans who have been here, have gone through it (and) can help the younger kids, where it's not a distraction, and we can just turn all the energy from Homecoming and leading up to the game and get it into a positive manner. It's going to be a rowdy crowd —it always is — and it should be electric, but our guys are going to give a great effort regardless of that."

AUTHOR: Bobby Gorbett

EDITOR: Bobby Keegan

COPY EDITOR: Addie Hedges

ILLUSTRATION: Alaina Dackermann