Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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Falcons to face familiar foe

Bowling Green will play Idaho for 3rd time in 4 seasons

BOWLING GREEN -- Bowling Green State University opens its Mid-American Conference football schedule today by hosting Idaho at Doyt Perry Stadium, with kickoff …

Wait a second. There has been plenty of upheaval in terms of conference affiliations in college football, but Idaho is not a member of the MAC.

It just seems like it to the Falcons, who are playing the Vandals for the third time in four seasons. In contrast, BG has not played three MAC schools -- Akron, Ball State, and Eastern Michigan -- since the first of those meetings with Idaho, which came in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl.

"These two teams are getting some strong history together," Idaho coach Robb Akey said. "We got them in the bowl game, and they got us last year, so this is the rubber match.

"I wasn't happy with the way we performed last year, and I expect us to put on a stronger performance this year."

In the bowl game, Idaho scored a touchdown with just four seconds left, then made a two-point conversion to claim a 43-42 victory. Last season BG spoiled the Vandals' home opener by jumping out to a 30-7 halftime lead on the way to a 32-15 win.

LIVE  in-game blog with sports writer John Wagner at 7 p.m.

"I know that stung big-time," BG linebacker Paul Swan said of the Falcons' bowl-game loss. "Last year we went there and beat them. They're probably fired up to beat us on our home field, but we're pretty pumped to play at home too."

Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said the unusually high number of meetings has led to a bit of a rivalry, not to mention a fair amount of familiarity, between the two schools that sit more than 2,000 miles apart.

"For both of us, not a lot has changed since 2009," Clawson said. "They have a different offensive coordinator, but they are running the same offensive system and defensive system.

"We're running the same offensive system and defensive system too."

One area where the Falcons are in the dark is Idaho's quarterback situation. The Vandals named Dominique Blackman, a left-hander who transferred from Old Dominion, as the starter before the season began but benched him for undisclosed reasons for the opener and suffered a 20-3 loss to Eastern Washington.

Blackman originally signed with Washington but played at Los Angeles Harbor Junior College, where he completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,711 yards and 35 touchdowns.

"I don't know the details of why he didn't play last week, but I do know they were very excited to have him eligible," Clawson said of Blackman. "Having him back will help them."

Without film of Blackman, who stands 6-5 and weighs 255 pounds, Clawson said the Falcons will focus on preparing for Idaho's scheme and other personnel.

"It's hard to imagine that they have practiced something in fall camp, ran it the first game -- and then will switch it up for this game," he said of the Vandals. "I'm sure they will have wrinkles, I'm sure there's a skill set [Blackman] has that they will highlight.

"But then you have to prepare for the unexpected, which is what you do for every game."

And while the Vandals lost to an FCS school in Eastern Washington, Clawson cautioned his team and BG fans against overlooking Idaho.

"Eastern Washington won the national championship a couple of years ago," Clawson said. "It's not like that's a run-of-the-mill FCS team -- that's one of the elite teams at that level. They almost beat Washington last year.

"For game one, without their starting quarterback, I think [the Vandals] had a lot of adversity that they didn't plan on, so I don't want to underestimate them at all."

Contact John Wagner at:, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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