BGSU vs. TOLEDO: The rivalry continues

It’s that time of year – Toledo week. This season, the Interstate 75 Rivalry also serves as Senior Day for the BG football team.

The game means something extra to a senior class that hasn’t beaten the Rockets since its first year in the program, 2003.

“It’s the biggest game of the season,” said senior defensive lineman Sean O’Drobinak. “It’s that much bigger because we haven’t beaten them in a long time and this is our last chance to do it.”

“I’ve kind of got butterflies. Just thinking it’s your last game ever playing here at home,” said fullback Pete Winovich. “Especially against a rival, that’s a great way to go out.”

The last time the Falcons beat the Rockets, Josh Harris was the quarterback and Gregg Brandon was in his first year as head coach.

The game means a little extra this season as it could be the final selling point for BG to earn a bowl berth.

“The best part about it is, if we beat Toledo we’re probably going to a bowl game,” O’Drobinak said. “We haven’t been able to say that the past couple of years.”

The Rockets will be without starting quarterback Aaron Opelt on Friday, which will be an advantage for the Falcons, but running back Jalen Parmalee will still be a major factor in the Toledo offense. UT coach Tom Amstutz will likely try and exploit the Falcons’ run defense like many teams have done this season.

“Toledo is going to play a great ball game it doesn’t matter who they have at quarterback,” O’Drobinak said. “It’s no lie, they’re going to line up and try to run the ball down our throats.”

No matter who lines up under center, the Falcons are planning on a fight to the finish.

“Whoever is playing quarterback for UT, I think they have the best talent in the league year in and year out and this year is no exception,” Brandon said.

The Falcons’ record is opposite of the mark they held last year going into the rivalry game, 7-4 rather than 4-7. Last year was labeled by Brandon as a rebuilding season but the project didn’t last long.

“I knew that it was temporary,” Brandon said. “Everything last year was a result of things that we didn’t have control over.”

Things like youth and a grueling schedule that included many weekday games made it hard for the Falcons to contend in 2006. But youth turned into experience and the Falcons only weekday games were on Fridays in 2007.

When they were 4-4 after a 35-27 loss to Ohio, BG had to decide what direction it would go in. Last year when the Falcons reached that mark they lost the rest of their games.

“We looked to last year and we were at the same point,” Winovich said. “We said ‘hey, what are we going to do in our last four games.'”

Brandon won’t call this season a complete success because his team’s goal is to win the MAC Championship game every season, but he likes the way his team bounced back from a 4-4 start. He would like it even more if they could finish with a win over their rival.

“I think it would be close to being a really good season,” he said. “There are still a lot of things out there for this team. To ensure a bowl game we need to win this game. We’ve got to finish.”

INJURY REPORT

Linebacker John Haneline’s foot injury will require surgery which will keep him out of Friday’s contest. If the Falcons do receive a bowl berth it’s still questionable that he’d play.

The injury to his thumb may not keep wide receiver Corey Partridge out of the Falcons’ possible bowl berth. He had successful surgery to repair the injury.

Fellow receiver Tyrone Pronty suffered an ankle sprain against Buffalo and it is not certain as to whether or not he will get the nod Friday.

CARR TALK

Brandon took a question about Michigan coach Lloyd Carr’s decision to retire from his head coaching position. He had plenty of good things to say about Carr and wished him the best.

“He’s had a great career, he’s a great football coach and a great guy,” Brandon said. “I hope I’m fortunate enough to do that, walk away on my own terms.”

THE RIVALRY

The Peace Pipe is a traveling award that goes to the winner of the annual gridiron battle between Bowling Green and Toledo.

BG’s seniors are trying to avoid going 0-4 in their careers against the Rockets.

BG leads the all-time series 36-31-4.

Toledo has won three straight and nine of the last 12 meetings in the series.

BG coach Gregg Brandon is 1-3 against Toledo. His lone win came in 2003.

Toledo leads the conference with 35 points per game but is last in scoring defense, giving up 39 points per game.

MORE COVERAGE

See The BG News’ football program for more coverage of Friday’s game.

When: Friday, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Doyt L. Perry Stadium

Implications: With a win the Falcons clinch the best record in the Mid-American Conference and all but guarantee a bowl berth.

Radio: WBGU (88.1 FM)

Television: ESPNU

Check the BG News Sports Blog for live coverage of the BG-Toledo game.