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DETROIT — When Bowling Green State University football coach Dave Clawson reached the interview room Thursday at Ford Field, he found a surprise waiting for him.
The Falcons were awarded a trophy for winning the Mid-American Conference’s East Division title.
“Hey guys, we won a trophy,” Clawson told seniors Paul Swan and Dominic Flewellyn, the two players who joined him at the interviews before the team’s practice. “Get lots of photos.”
While receiving a trophy for finishing first in the MAC’s East Division is nice, it’s not the Falcons’ primary goal. Clawson said BG will get a chance to reach that goal today with it faces Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game starting at 8 p.m.
Clawson said things like keeping Northern Illinois out of a BCS bowl or making a “statement” in the contest are not motivating factors for BG in this game.
“Any time you play in a championship game, you don’t have to make it beyond what it is,” he said. “This is for a conference championship, so to give it added importance as a ‘statement’ game [isn’t necessary].”
Clawson said the Falcons are prepared, thanks in large part to the 18-man senior class. He said that group has helped the team focus on its goals and keep the proper perspective on today’s game.
“I had to calm down one of the freshman tackles, Jacob Bennett, who was getting a little excited,” senior guard Dominic Flewellyn said. “He started thinking too much, and that can make you a little wild.
“I think everybody has looked to [seniors]. When we beat Buffalo, we said, ‘We’ve got another step ahead of us.’ We’re not looking at this as the biggest game of our lives. We’re moving on to the next game.”
While it may seem boastful to say the Falcons expected to play in the championship game before the season began, Clawson felt it was more of a statement on the program’s readiness to reach that contest for the first time since 2003.
“You start out every year saying you expect to be here, but sometimes your players are naïve,” Clawson said. “They don’t realize how much work it takes, the adversity you go through in a season.
“That’s not the case with this group. Three years ago, that was the case. But this group understands how hard it is to win a game every week in this conference.”
TICKET SALES: Both schools sold their original allotment of 3,000 tickets for the game.
Bowling Green, in fact, has sold roughly 4,000 tickets for the championship and will bring 10 busloads of fans to Ford Field.
Fans who purchased game tickets online from BGSU can pick them up at Ford Field’s Gate C starting at 5:30 p.m. The gates will open at 6:30 p.m., with kickoff set for 8:06 p.m.
The game will be televised by ESPN2.
BOWL WATCH: Observers from six different bowls will be at Ford Field for today’s game.
Three of the bowl representatives are from the MAC’s primary bowls: The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, and the GoDaddy Bowl.
The Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange bowls also will be at the game. Those three BCS bowls will get a chance to see Northern Illinois, which would come one step closer to a second straight BCS bid with a win today.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: email@example.com or 419-724-6182.