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Winless against Toledo in past four years; Falcons look to end rivalry drought

The battle of Interstate 75 isn’t a business game; it’s personal to redshirt junior Alex Huettel, who still remembers the disappointment from last year’s 28-25 loss.

It happened in a blink of an eye, he said.

“I blinked and they were up 21-0. Then I remember we came back and had a false start that cost us seven points,” he said. “We wanted them again so bad once we clinched the MAC.”

The Falcons are in a different position this season. They have already clinched the Mid-American Conference East division title.

Despite having clinched their trip to Detroit on Dec. 5, they will not rest on their laurels.

“We’ve got guys in the training room who are really hurt that are doing everything they can to get back for this game,” head coach Dino Babers said. “They can rest the next game, they all want to play in this one.”

It is no surprise that the players want to play in this game. The Falcons don’t have a player on the roster that has been a part of a win against Toledo. The last win for the Falcons came at Doyt L. Perry stadium on Nov. 27, 2009.

The importance of those games has been stressed throughout the week, but Babers has left that to

the seniors.

“When it comes to the rivalry, I’ve taken the stance that you shouldn’t talk about a rivalry until you’ve been through one,” he said. “The seniors have been the ones getting up and speaking about the rivalry. The coaches that haven’t been through it need to put their lips together and listen about how important it is.”

That’s exactly what Babers has done, but he believes that for this to be called a rivalry game, a team needs to win it sometimes.

“If you don’t win then it’s not a rivalry game, it’s just a game,” he added. “It’s really important for both communities and universities that it is a

rivalry game.”

BG seniors like Brian Sutton understand this could be the last chance for them to beat Toledo.

“This is probably one of my last opportunities to go against them,” Sutton said. “Obviously I want to go out with a bang and beat them. I haven’t beaten them in my four years here so I definitely want to get this win so I can have

bragging rights.”

When the Falcons take the field Wednesday evening they will have to deal with the uncertainty of which quarterback they will see. This isn’t anything new to the Falcons, as they have done this the past two weeks against Akron and Kent State.

“I think our defense is used to it,” Babers said. “It’s difficult; it splits your time. There is no doubt about it. We are more comfortable with it, but that doesn’t mean we will be any more or less successful.”

No matter who starts at quarterback for the Rockets, the key for the game will depend on who stops the run the best, Babers said.

“When you look at Toledo, what they want to do is run the football with their five senior offensive linemen,” he said. “The only teams that really get after them are the teams that can run the football and teams that are able to stop the run

against them.”

Kareem Hunt, the Rockets’ starting running back, has played in seven games this season and has accumulated 995 yards, averaging 140 yards per game.

“Hunt is a bruiser and, I think, the life of their offense,” Sutton said.

The running backs for the Falcons have been pretty banged up in the past two weeks. Travis Greene, the Falcons’ leading rusher, was injured at Akron two weeks ago. Second leading rusher Fred Coppet was injured against Kent State this

past week.

Babers said Greene is doing all he can to be back for this game.

No matter who is back there receiving the bulk of the carries, the offensive line has not wavered.

“Right now we are just playing physical football,” Huettel said. “We have wanted it on our back since the Western Kentucky game. We’ve gotten the opportunity and we’ve shown that we can do it.”

It’s been one year since Huettel walked off the field in disappointment and four years since the Falcons have celebrated a win against Toledo. The Falcons will look to end that drought on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

“It’s the game everybody in the community and the school talks about,” Huettel said. “Whether they come to the game or not, they are going to watch it or keep updated. As much as we want a win, we have to get the community of Bowling Green one too.”

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