The Bowling Green Falcons completed their 2017 non-conference football schedule today by announcing an agreement to play at the Northwestern Wildcats on Sept. 16. The game adds a middle hurdle to what should be a difficult three-game gauntlet. The Falcons will open the season at home against FCS member South Dakota before facing Michigan State, Northwestern and Middle Tennessee State on the road.
The 2017 season will include BGSU's first back-to-back road games against Big Ten opponents since 2007, when they opened the season with a 32-31 win at the Minnesota Golden Gophers and a 28-17 loss at the Michigan State Spartans.
The Falcons are now scheduled to face six Big Ten opponents over the course of the next five seasons. Aside from MSU and Northwestern in 2017, Bowling Green plays at the Ohio State Buckeyes to open the 2016 season, at Illinois on Sept. 19, 2020, at home against Maryland on Sept. 8, 2018, and at Maryland on Aug. 31, 2019. By the end of 2020, the Falcons will have faced at least one Big Ten team in eight consecutive seasons.
The addition of the game at Northwestern continues BGSU's recent aggressive scheduling practices. The Falcons have played at least two opponents from Power 5 conferences in each of the last four seasons and will now do so in 2017, 2018 and 2019. There is also speculation that another game against a Power 5 team, possibly Tennessee, will be added for the 2020 season.
Despite playing such a high number of quality teams, Bowling Green has fared very well. In 2012 and 2013, BGSU earned respect with close losses at Florida (27-14) and at Mississippi State (21-20), as well as against Pittsburgh in the 2013 Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl (30-27). The Falcons defeated Indiana in 2014 and both Maryland and Purdue in 2015.
BGSU owns 11 victories over Power 5 teams in the last 15 seasons, including seven against the Big Ten. Their record against the Big Ten in that span is 7-9, and it is 3-1 in the last two seasons.
Northwestern is one of three teams against whom the Falcons are unblemished. Both all-time meetings have occurred this century. They won their only game at Ryan Field with a thrilling 43-42 win in 2001, then defeated the Wildcats 28-24 in the 2003 Motor City Bowl. That victory was the last of an astounding four wins BGSU compiled against the Power 5 in 2003.
Bowling Green is also undefeated all-time against Purdue (3-0) and Maryland (1-0).
The Wildcats currently have two other future games scheduled against MAC opponents. Northwestern will host Western Michigan on Sept. 3, 2016, then Central Michigan on Sept. 12, 2020.