If his ninth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes pound Bowling Green on Saturday, many fans will say, "Big deal, it's Bowling Green."
If the Buckeyes struggle, they'll complain the team wasn't properly prepared.
"That's a no-win situation," Cooper said.
Over its 108 years of football, Ohio State has squared off 204 times against another team from the Buckeye state. But only one of those meetings has taken place in the last 63 years.
Such is the pressure to play and yet dominate the other, smaller schools in the state that Ohio State has historically stayed away from scheduling them. The Buckeyes haven't played Miami of Ohio since 1911 and have never met Toledo.
But over the next four years, Ohio State will play Miami, Toledo, Ohio University and Akron at Ohio Stadium.
"We may be the biggest fish in the sea, but we're not the only fish in the sea," OSU Athletics Director Andy Geiger said. "By playing the Ohio schools, we bring attention to their programs, we strengthen them a bit.
"In turn, we assure that there are places and scholarships available for high school youngsters in Ohio which keeps the high school programs vibrant. It's a grass-roots strategy that helps us and the other institutions."
And then there's the money. Ohio State will sell about 90,000 tickets for the game at Ohio Stadium at $30 apiece, and Bowling Green gets a $450,000 payday.
"I think there's winners all around," Geiger said.
Cooper said Ohio State _ favored by more than five touchdowns _ has little to gain and much to lose.
"You get people, including the press, saying, 'What are you doing playing so-and-so and so-and-so? Why don't you keep the money in state?"' Cooper said. "Then you keep it in state and you've got people putting down your opponent. How do you win?"
The Buckeyes figured that out in 1992, but barely. In their first meeting against another Ohio team since the Depression, they eked out a 17-6 victory over Bowling Green.
The main object for Ohio State is correcting its sloppy play in the season-opening 24-10 victory over Wyoming.
"I don't think it matters who we play this weekend," offensive coordinator Larry Jacobs said. "There are things off that first game that we offensively want to correct. I think it's a pride factor."
Bowling Green (1-1) blew a big lead in losing 30-23 to Louisiana Tech in its opener, then overcame a 14-0 second-quarter deficit at home last week to upset Miami of Ohio 28-21 in its first Mid-American Conference game.
MAC teams are 16-75-2 against the Big Ten; Bowling Green is 1-5 against the conference.
"Most of our players probably grew up hoping to play for Ohio State, Michigan or somebody like that," said Gary Blackney, who left as an assistant at Ohio State to take over as head coach at BG seven years ago. "They have the opportunity to go there, play lights out, not be uptight, have some fun and have their dreams come true."
Interest is high around Ohio anytime the Buckeyes play an interstate
opponent. But apparently there isn't the same excitement everywhere. For
the first time in 29 games, Ohio State will not be appearing on