This weekend represents Battle for
the Peace Pipe I-75, the earliest that the MAC's two Northwest Ohio teams have faced each other in 12 years. Both teams are 3-3, but the schedules and quality of wins are enormously different. As a goodwill gesture toward the Rockets and Falcons, Culby and I have set apart our Lucas County and Wood County differences to discuss the rivalry game's new date, the standard offense-versus-defense matchups and this crazy new trophy that features federally-designated blocks of cement.
Culby: The most important thing first: the new trophy. We received this "better rendering" today, which makes me wonder why we haven't seen a picture of the dang thing. Are they going to pour the bronze into the mold at halftime?
Suss: I think for the first year, the winner of the game will receive a high-quality photo reprint of the trophy.
I briefly mentioned this the other day. As I said: nothing wrong with abolishing the generic Native American motifs if they don't approve of it. I still think the Black Swamp Bowl is a better name for this rivalry. I-75 is a big long slab of concrete that goes from the tippy top of Michigan to Florida. I don't know if it's right that Northwest Ohio gets to fight for the right to the entire interstate, although if they convert it to a toll road that'd be good for the Ohio economy. Your thoughts?
Culby: Maybe Case Western can start a football team and we can play them for I-80/90. That's maximizing your resources.
Moving on to the game proper, allow me to say one nice thing about the Falcons before Rockets fans demand I tear them to shreds and feast on their remains: it's nice to see the Falcons have a proper running game. They've already matched the rushing yards they accrued all of last year, and if they could just keep their damn hands on the ball, that could be something really special.
Suss: And the run game wasn't the problem last year; the sheer yardage and yards per gain was pitiful but the passing yard numbers were there. The balance helps, but even though Anthon Samuel and Jamel Martin have been storming through with surprising rushes, I think this is more of a testament to a healthy offensive line. The real problem I have is that the run defense has suddenly collapsed.
Culby: You forgot the part where Austin Dantin and/or Terrance Owens launches the ball 40 yards down field and Eric Page magically appears underneath it. The best part about that is that it's no longer feasable to double-team Eric all day, because everybody else can catch the ball too.
Suss: And that pass attack is going to be a challenge to contain. Especially Page; he'll get his yards. But the Reedys and Staffords of the game are going to be doubly important. Understand that BG actually has a very highly-rated pass defense.The 115.65 opposing QB rating is 28th in the country, better than anyone UT has played save for Temple. If this becomes a throw-off in the fourth quarter, advantage BG.
Culby: Depending on who's doing the throwing. Don't forget that Toledo's secondary might be giving up yards, but they come down with the picks. Again, turnovers could bite the Falcons on their feathery butt.
We've got to talk about the date change. I had no problems when it was announced they were moving the game to October, and I still love it now that we're days away. Yeah, you kind of like to have those big rivalry games at the end of the year, but you also like to have them well attended. Moving this game away from Thanksgiving will raise this rivalry back to where it belongs.
Suss: And that's a good point, because this is a neat rivalry but I feel it's sort of an anomaly on the national radar. It's fierce in Ohio but nationally I think people have a hard time remembering if their rivals since their names don't really match up. Ask someone and they might say Toledo's is Ball State or BGSU's is Akron, which ... no offense Akron or Ball State, but, yech. BG-UT being the end-of-the-year game was a recent change, so we're not bucking tradition here. It's not Ohio State-Michigan, so let's not try to complete with it. October is a good month for it. I wouldn't be opposed to having it on Week 1 either.
Final score and/or what other player does Toledo lose to injury for another month?
Culby: I know Gary Manni has the game at Toledo by 7 1/2. While I think Toledo will win by more, rivalry games have a goofy way of playing out, so I'll go just that side of the line, 28-20. I'll also go out on a limb and say that nobody gets injured, but another men's basketball player drops out. Yourself?
Suss: Reese Holliday inexplicably collides with Bernard Reedy during a game of pickup bocce, causing both of them to suffer hairline fractures.
I'll be Mr. Pessimistic Pants. High scoring barrels of fun, Toledo wins 38-34, ruining homecoming and the weekend of every notable Bowling Green/Detroit Tigers fan. I'm even throwing in a BG missed PAT for bonus self-deprecation.
Culby: Then to the victor go to the Street Sign.