The 2015 senior class for the Bowling Green Falcons is one of the most accomplished in school history. Over the last four seasons, including this one, the team is 34-17. They've won BGSU's first MAC championship in 21 years. They've won three straight MAC Eastern Division championships. They'll be going to their fourth consecutive bowl game this year, and last year, they provided BGSU's first bowl win in 10 seasons.
Individually, Travis Greene needs just five yards to become the Falcons' all-time leading rusher. He could earn that on the first carry tonight. Tyler Tate has a chance to become BGSU's all-time leading scorer before the season is over. Matt Johnson is having one of the best passing seasons in both Bowling Green and MAC history.
Still, despite all of their accomplishments and accolades, this Bowling Green team has failed to do one important thing: they have not defeated their rivals to the north.
It used to be that the Falcons absolutely dominated the Battle of I-75. From 1948 to 1981, Bowling Green won 24 of the 34 meetings, including 12 in a row from 1955 to 1966. The rivalry flipped in the 1980s, as BGSU lost six of nine games, but when the calendar flipped to the 1990s, it seemed as if the Falcons re-established dominance with four wins in a row.
However, beginning in 1995, things turned dark. BGSU lost four in a row from 1995-98, which was at the time their longest losing streak ever in the series. Of course, that's now been eclipsed by the current five-game losing streak. In all, the Falcons have dropped 14 of the last 20 games in this series.
The Toledo Rockets began their current streak in 2010 with a 33-14 domination that made BGSU's 2-10 season even worse. The game was much closer in 2011, as Toledo won 28-21. It was one of three losses of seven points or fewer in the Falcons' 5-7 season. The Rockets then won a third in a row with a 27-15 victory at the Glass Bowl in 2012.
The last two meetings have been very close.
The two last met in Bowling Green in 2013. Toledo had four first-half possessions in that game. The first three ended in touchdowns, and the fourth was a single kneel-down before halftime. The Rockets took a 21-0 lead in the game and held a 21-10 edge by the end of the third quarter. However, Travis Greene put together two touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, and BGSU claimed a 25-21 lead.
On their final drive in the final two minutes, Toledo faced a 3rd-and-26 and then a 4th-and-9 but converted the 4th down play into an Alonzo Russell touchdown that proved to be the winning edge in a 28-25 Rocket victory.
Last year's game, at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, was equally tense. Kareem Hunt opened the game with a touchdown run late in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead, and Hunt's 91-yard scamper in the third quarter gave the Rockets a 20-10 edge. However, the Falcons came back with 10 consecutive points and tied the game on a Ronnie Moore touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter.
Toledo responded with another game-winning drive, capped by a Dwight Macon seven-yard scoring run. BGSU held the ball three more times before the end of the game but went into Toledo territory just once, on a drive that ended with a sack of Cody Callaway on a 4th-and-11 at the Toledo 30. UT won the game, 27-20.
The seniors on this Falcons team are desperate to get a win in the series and really have nothing else on which to focus tonight. This game is entirely about beating the Rockets, and the Falcons need to do it. This game is the last notch on the Falcons' championship pedigree. Without it, careers won't be complete.