This week’s edition of the BlogPoll Roundtable (version 4.0) is hosted by the little green men at The Blue-Gray Sky. (Which reminds me of one of the funniest times in recent athletic history. The “Troy Murphy Era” at Notre Dame, where somehow, inexplicably, the star of the basketball team was an Irishman and the leprechaun mascot was African-American, and I used an awful lot of commas, along with some gut-wrenching political correctness.)
Any-hoo, this week’s run through the roundtable gauntlet gets us suited up for late November, before the calendar even reaches August. What gives? I’ll tell ya what gives… rivalries. And the only thing that keeps you from wanting to get at your rival immediately is that it usually means the long wait for more football is around the corner. So you’re forced to kick-kick-kick it slow for a little while enjoying September and October, but keeping your eye out for the (insert the plural form of your favorite expletive here, I can’t choose just one) down the road.
But without further delay, on to this round’s interrogative statements used to test knowledge:
1. Who are your rival(s)?
Main rival? Toledo. But with this switch to the MAC East, Miami(OH) steps it up and should turn into something special, and speaking of “special”, Kent State and for some reason Ohio U. have always seemed to be rivals, at least to me. Of course, Kent is where we turn when a DB wants to have a three interception game (it’s the school record, and three of the six times its happened have been against the Golden Flashes), and Ohio U. is most remembered for the 72-21 pasting they absorbed in 2002.
But back to the spRockets of Toledo. The schools are only about 25 miles apart, and the rivalry dates back to 1919, with a few years taken off in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. (Toledo fans will say its because they beat BG too bad the previous couple of years, BG fans will say that it was because Toledo fans are assholes. Both statements are pretty much correct, except BG beats Toledo now, and their fans are still assholes.)
The last 7 or so meetings have been won by the home team, and usually in pretty convincing fashion. Last year was a slight break from that, though the details after BG took a 27-7 halftime lead are a little hazy. (Toledo won 49-41, and if you mention it again, I’ll fucking kill you, all right?) This year brings a new twist. With the move back to the East, BG and Toledo could potentially meet twice in 9 days. Once in the regular season finale, then, if each wins their division as they’re predicted to do, they’ll meet again in Detroit for the MAC Championship. If they game in BG isn’t ugly enough, I can only imagine how nasty the rematch would be. (And not just because its held in Detroit.) It’s an idea that I’m not sure I like, but I couldn’t imagine not being guaranteed to play Toledo every year, and playing the game in September just wouldn’t have the same flair.
Of course, to get to that title game, BG will likely have to beat Miami(OH). For some reason, the Falcons have a hell of a time beating the Redskin…errr… Redhawks. They call it “The Miami Whammy” in NW Ohio, and just when you think it might have gone away, it rears its ugly (yet well dressed) head again. Even Doyt Perry, the figurehead of Bowling Green athletics, had trouble with Miami(OH). In 2003, BG finished 10-3. Two of those losses came against Miami(OH). After a year off the schedule, it resumes this November, and there should be a whole lot of marbles on the line in Oxford. Given time, this one could get almost as ugly as the Toledo rivalry, especially when you’re putting division titles on the line.
It won’t be that much of a stretch, though, as the general fan base is pretty much the same. Toledo fans hate BG because.. uh… well.. um… “BG sucks!”, and Miami(OH) fans hate BG because their daddies tell them they have to. (Besides, did you see the SHOES he was wearing with those pants? Puh-leez!)
2. Size up your chances in your rival games this year.
I think BG has the guns to beat everyone this year, the two rivals included. The Toledo game being at home, plus the taste in their mouths after the Toledo game (Which wasn’t pizza, Tom Amstutz ate all the pizza. In the state.), they should be ready to bang. Especially if an undefeated MAC season could be at stake (or hell, even an undefeated regular season!), BG might want to just pound UT into submission. Of course, that could work against them, but I think Toledo is about the third team the Falcons need to worry about this year. Unless they meet in Detroit, in which case all records really will get tossed out the window.
As for Miami(OH), they seem to be a bit of a question mark. They’ve got playmakers dotted about and a solid defense, but they seem so vanilla. If BG can get to the defense, they can shove the Whammy where the sun don’t shine, but as will be the case in the season opener against Wisconsin, if the opponent can set the pace and turn it into a grind-it-out type of game, BG might come up a tad short.
As for Kent State and the “Anniversary Award” trophy… even on the road, if BG doesn’t win that one by 40, I’ll be disappointed.
3. If you could start up a new rivalry with another team, who would it be?
I think we have all the in-conference rivalries we can handle right now, but I’d love to start something up with a school like Pitt or Purdue (not that they’ll be rushing to play us any time soon, they still have yet to beat us!). A game against a program that isn’t too far away from campus, but brings alot to the table quality-wise. Unfortunately, shooting any higher than that is going to lead to a stack of road games, since I don’t see the UM/OSU/ND’s of the college football world heading into the Doyt any time soon. As a side note, teams like Missouri and Northwestern would also work out as future “rivals”, but they’re our bitches too.
ADDED LATER: The original thought was Ohio State, since I really do think BG could pull out a win on a semi-regular basis, at least nowadays, but then I thought there’s no way it would ever be played away from Columbus, unless it was played in Cleveland, which still wouldn’t provide much of an advantage for the Falcons, so I decided to shoot for teams I could actually see playing in the Doyt.
4. Overall, what do you think the best rivalry in college football is?
Since we’re again not allowed to count our own, and part of me checks in on the Michigan side of the ledger (although the “everything on the table, flat gray sky, close game no matter who’s kicking who around or who had the better season” style of OSU-Michigan is pretty freakin’ sweet), I’ll probably have to go with the token response of Army-Navy. It’s just always cool to see the way the players, coaches and fans handle themselves during that game, with the desire to win (even with normally shitty teams), but with a unique respect for the guys on the other side of the line.
5. Lastly, game trophies. What are the best and worst rivalry trophies out there?
As a Michigan fan, I’ve always been fond of the Little Brown Jug, though seeing that Wisky-Minnesota game a few years ago where the kid made the GW FG and took off after the huge-ass ax(e) was pretty sweet. So I’d have to give a vote for the “Huge Ass Ax(e) Trophy”, alongside the jug.
BG and Toledo play for “The Peace Pipe”, which looks more like a Cub Scout project glued onto a Little League trophy, but I guess back in the day it was an actual six-foot peace pipe. Talk about bad ass!
Not sure about what some of the worst might be, though the Ole Miss/Mississippi State Egg is certainly “unique”. Not to mention Ohio State and Illinois playing for a freaking wooden turtle!