Coach Gregg Brandon said he'd like to relive the dream soon.
“I'd like to think that it's not going to be a one-time shot,” he said. “I want us to be able to sustain that.”
The most obvious benefit Brandon's team received Saturday was the lift from 31,007 fans who packed Perry Stadium to see the Falcons thump Northern Illinois 36-18. Brandon said he began to see the advantage of the large crowd before his team even began its warm-ups.
“When we got out of the busses and walked up the sidewalk along `Tent Row,' I saw some of our kids were fighting back tears,” Brandon said. “The fifth-year seniors who spilled blood out there on the field and never got to experience that [before, for them] it was unbelievable.
“And then when we came out for pre-game, it was phenomenal. Seeing that crowd, beating those ThunderStix, and having them sustain it for four quarters. It was awesome.”
Brandon hopes Falcon fans continue to provide that advantage in BG's final two home games.
“We put 31,000 in there, and I challenge the fans to come back for Kent State [Nov. 15] and put 30,000 in there for them and show the nation we're not a school that gets a record crowd every 30 years,” Brandon said.
The victory also makes the Falcons bowl eligible. Division I-A teams need to post at least six wins against other I-A schools to be eligible for a bowl, but once every four years a school is allowed to count one win against a I-AA opponent that meets certain scholarship requirements. Two of Bowling Green's seven victories this season have come against I-AA schools in Eastern Kentucky and Liberty.
Brandon realizes that reaching the NCAA's mandated win total is no guarantee of a bowl bid, though.
“The two years I've been here [as an assistant] we've been 8-4 and 9-3 and have been shut out because we only have two bowl tie-ins and for some reason the other bowls that have at-large bids don't take MAC teams,” Brandon said. “If we can show the at-large bowls that we can put 30,000 in here and that we have a fan base that will generate some income for a bowl, somebody will take us if we show the fans will come.”
Brandon also believes the victory, the large crowd and the television spotlight should help with recruiting.
“You never know, but I have to think it helped,” Brandon said. “We had some top kids on campus, and that helped. We need to continue to win and keep showcasing our program. And everybody watches ESPN, so it's got to help.”
The only downside is that a physical contest against Northern Illinois will be followed by another physical contest at Miami. The good news is that the contest with the RedHawks will be played Tuesday, giving Bowling Green a few additional days to heal.
Brandon gave the Falcons three days off starting Sunday and said the team will begin its usual week of preparations today.
“We're going to practice through the weekend and treat it as if Wednesday was Sunday, that kind of deal,” Brandon said.
The status of Mike Crumpler, a reserve safety who also plays extensively on special teams, is uncertain for the Miami game, pending the results of an MRI. He was injured in the Northern Illinois game.
Three previously injured Falcons saw action against the Huskies - linebacker Daniel Sayles, safety Mike Malone and lineman Rick Mauer. Perhaps the biggest surprise was Mauer, a fifth-year senior who broke his ankle in the opener against Eastern Kentucky and was expected to miss the rest of the season.
Brandon wasn't sure if Malone would return to his starting safety spot or if Keon Newson would stay there after manning the position since Malone was injured at Ohio State.
“The problem with Mike is that he probably is a step slower, but with Keon Newson in there Keon needs those reps,” Brandon said. “If we put Mike back in there, we have to move Keon back to corner. It's a catch-22, but we probably need to throw Mike back into the fray.
“I would anticipate getting Mike back in there some against Miami because Mike is a skilled defender. What he might have lost because of this injury he will make up with his instincts and his smarts.”