Rivalry, TV fires up Rockets, Falcons

Updated 11/22/2000
Thanks to positive MAC regional scheduling, the Bowling Green Falcons finish their season against archrival Toledo tonight (Nov. 22) at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2. At stake for Bowling Green: bragging rights and sending coach Gary Blackney out a winner. For Toledo, the stakes are much higher: a possible bowl bid and possible top 25 ranking.

"For years we've played Toledo at different points of the season, but to have your arch-rival at the end of the season is special," Bowling Green coach Gary Blackney said. "There will be a lot of enthusiasm because it's on national television."

The Rockets are playing for a 10-1 record, it's best since its 1995 undefeated season, and a possible bowl berth. Pinkel told ESPN.com: "I'd be disappointed if we finished this right -- and we've got a lot of work to do -- if we don't get an opportunity (to play in a bowl game). It bothers you a little bit. We can play ball with most anybody in this country."

The Toledo offense, with quarterback Tavares Bolden, running back Chester Taylor and receiver Mel Long being key contributors, is a potent one. Toledo coach Gary Pinkel says Bolden is among the best in the MAC, but doesn't always get the credit he deserves. "Bolden should be judged by winning," he said. "He rarely plays in fourth quarter. He's only been sacked three times this year. He makes plays with his feet. He's the catalyst of our offense."

The Rocket defense may be better yet, yielding just 10.8 points a game. However, as the Central-Western game evidenced, anything can happen in a MAC rivalry game.

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PREVIEW

Bowling Green Falcons (2-8, 1-5 MAC East) at Toledo Rockets (9-1, 4-1 MAC West), 6:30 Wednesday, November 22 Glass Bowl (26,248/astro turf) Toledo, Ohio.

The Coaches: BGSU-Gary Blackney (Connecticut, 1967) 60-49-2/10th season; UT-Gary Pinkel (Kent State, 1975) 72-37-3/10th season.

The Series: BGSU leads 34-26-4

Television: ESPN2

A national television audience will witness the 65th meeting in this rivalry that dates back to 1919 and a 6-0 Toledo win ... this game will also mark the 112th and final game for BGSU head coach Gary Blackney, whose resignation takes effect at the end of the season ... the Falcons have dropped their last two games by a total of nine points (23-21 to Ohio; 20-13 to Marshall) and have lost four games by seven points or less ... NT Brandon Hicks is tied for third in the MAC in sacks with eight and sixth in tackles for a loss with 13 and leads a defense that ranks third in the conference in total defense, allowing 342 yards per game ... the 20 takeaways by the Falcons' defense has the team listed third in the league in turnover margin at +7 ... BG's strength is in its defensive line of ends Ryan Wingrove and D.J. Durkin and tackles Hicks and D.J. Owchar, who have started every game this season, the only unit to do so for the Falcons ... senior left tackle Rob Fehrman will be making his 44th career start at Toledo ... the Rockets have the league's best record at 9-1 and will challenge the stubborn BG defense with plenty of skill people ... TB Chester Taylor ranks second in the MAC with 1,336 rushing yards and third with 15 rushing TDs ... QB Tavares Bolden has 12 TD passes to just three interceptions and the UT offensive line has allowed just five sacks all year ... WR Mel Long has grabbed 46 passes for 486 yards and two TDs and has caught a pass in 45 consecutive games, tied for the longest current streak nationally ... Kevin Rollins and DeJuan Goulde both have eight sacks and Goulde has15 tackles for a loss, second in the league ... this series has been continuous since 1948 ... BG won last year's game, 34-23 in QB Andy Sahm's debut, but UT had won the previous four games ... Blackney is 5-4 all-time versus Toledo while Pinkel is 4-5 versus BGSU.