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2023 Quick Lane Bowl adds to thrilling history between Falcons and Gophers

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BGSU Athletics

The date is September 25, 2021. The air was crisp and the sun was shining all over the state of Minnesota as Gopher fans were ready to celebrate their homecoming game. 

Listed at the time as a 31 point favorite, Minnesota was seen by many as a comfortable favorite.

Boy oh boy did they have a come-to-home moment.

Fans of the orange and brown can still remember Bowling Green going into Minneapolis and spoiling homecoming for the Golden Gophers. 

Others remember the two-point conversion heard all around the nation, when Bowling Green yet again played spoiler to the home opener for the Gophers in the 2007 season.

So it’s safe to say Bowling Green has some happy memories when playing the Golden Gophers, and on Tuesday, December 26, these two schools will clash again for what we can hope to be another instant classic. 

Bowling Green and Minnesota started playing dating back to 1986 and since then have played a total of four times, two of which were decided by four points or less. 

September 13, 1986 was the first time BG and Minnesota clashed. The two teams were scoreless after one quarter and the Gophers only scored a field goal in the second quarter, making it a 3-0 ballgame at the half. However, a big third quarter by the Gophers put this game out of reach, resulting in a Minnesota victory at 31-7.

Star running back for the Gophers and future first-round pick Darell Thompson, who then played five seasons in the NFL, stomped all over the Falcons as he ran for 205 yards for four total touchdowns. 

These two schools wouldn’t meet again until the opener of the ’07 season and if you know anything about that season for college football, you know that this game would more than fit the narrative. 

It was September 1 and a new season for both schools were upon themselves. 2007 brought a TV station to many homes as they implemented a “Big Ten Network”. Many Big Ten teams were still shocked as hours earlier on the newly Big Ten Network, unranked Appalachian State took down the number five ranked Michigan Wolverines in the ‘Big House’

Fans who watched that in the afternoon had no idea another upset would be brewing on this channel.  

For the first three quarters it was all Bowling Green as at halftime, the Falcons were up 21-0 with all the momentum. Minnesota would tack on seven in the third quarter before adding on 17 in the fourth to BG’s three, knotting it up at 24 a piece. 

Minnesota got the ball first and scored a quick seven, leaving it all up to BG’s offense to respond. 

Respond they did,  but instead of going for double overtime, Bowling Green head coach Gregg Brandon ignored double overtime and went for the win, sending his offense out for the two-point conversion. Quarterback Tyler Sheehan flicked a pass up to receiver Freddie Barnes to clinch the game and absolutely stun Minnesota. 

2007 was the first year of the team’s home and home, so in 2008, the Golden Gophers came to Doyt Perry Stadium to mark only the third time in 30 years a Power 5 team came to BGSU (Wisconsin 2006, Iowa State 1977).  

However, this game did not have the same magic as it did a year ago. This game was a one-score game at halftime and all signs were leading for an instant classic when BG was to receive the second-half kickoff, but a fumble on the kick gave Minnesota the ball at BG’s 21 and never looked back, as a huge fourth quarter uplifted the Gophers to a 42-17 win. 

The two schools wouldn’t play each other again until that September day in 2021, a game I’m sure many still remember. 

Minnesota elected Bowling Green to be their homecoming game, a game many Power 5 teams schedule an “easier” opponent to give the fans something to cheer for. 

A mistake was born right then and there. 

In this series history, the magic was usually reflected on the offense, but this game, fans saw a defensive showdown take place. 

Both offenses struggled in all four quarters of the game as only 24 points total were scored. 

Minnesota opened up that scoring with a field goal midway through the first quarter and it wasn’t until midway through the second quarter when former BGSU quarterback Matt McDonald ran one in for a one-yard touchdown, giving the Falcons the 7-3 lead going into halftime. 

The second half opened with a 57-yard drive for the Gophers giving them the 10-7 lead.  

Many Minnesota fans exhaled as they assumed there were major adjustments implemented in the locker room at halftime, but they were soon in for a treat as they were stunned for the rest of the game.

A few drives later after a Minnesota missed field goal, an eight-play scoring drive, which was capped off by yet another Matt McDonald run, put the Falcons on top 14-10 to which they never looked back. 

Bowling Green held on in the fourth quarter thanks to many defensive heroics as they picked off then-Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan twice within three minutes to seal the game. 

You could hear the fireworks and cheers all the way back home in Bowling Green as the clock struck zeros in Minneapolis. 

This loss for Minnesota was the first loss to a non conference opponent in 18 games for the Gophers. 

Current head coach Scot Loeffler was a part of the fun and mentioned how proud he was for his team. 

“I couldn’t be more happy for a group of kids who have really been through a lot. We’re just going to keep on getting better and improving.” 

With that, the battles between Bowling Green and Minnesota have had some fun classics throughout the years, and as of 2021, the series is knotted up at two a piece.  

Tuesday’s game will have major implications between the two schools for who will lead the series, and with no plans to play in the future, this could be a big swing of momentum for Bowling Green to have a series lead against a Big Ten team. 

So when seeing these two schools get selected for the Quick Lane Bowl, I’m sure chills ran down the spine for both schools and their fanbases. 

Maybe for excitement?  

Or maybe for frightening reasons? 

Let’s find out together.

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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