Some fans were happy, some were not when the Bowling Green-Toledo game was moved from the last game of the regular season to a much earlier slot in the 2012 football schedule.
The game was played on Sept. 15, you may recall, and the Rockets scored a 27-15 win at the Glass Bowl. It drew a capacity-plus 28,115 fans, and on that basis the move was applauded.
BG lost the following week, as well, at Virginia Tech to drop to 1-3, the lone win being of the lackluster variety at home to a bad Idaho team.
You may have stopped paying attention to the Falcons at that point. Yours truly may have been guilty of the same.
On Wednesday, BG won its sixth game in a row with a rousing performance by special teams — the punt-return/block unit, in particular — and another resilient effort by a defense that has emerged as the very best in the Mid-American Conference. The Falcons won a biggie on the road, 26-14, at Ohio.
The Falcons and the Rockets could close the season against one another after all.
Despite Toledo having its eight-game win streak snapped by Ball State, the Rockets and the Falcons control their league title destinies.
With two games to go, if both win they will win their MAC divisions and meet again in the conference championship game at Ford Field in Detroit on Nov. 30.
It won’t be easy. UT has to go on the road to face its most-heated MAC West rival, Northern Illinois, next Wednesday night. The Huskies have won nine in a row, should replace UT in the Top 25 by then, have outscored opponents 406-179, and should be heavily favored.
NIU has won two straight over Toledo, by 65-30 in DeKalb in 2010 and in a wild 63-60 decision last season at the Glass Bowl. The Rockets’ defense didn’t take the full hit for that one considering the Huskies returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
If UT can find a way to reverse that recent trend against NIU the Rockets would then close the regular-season at home against Akron, currently 1-9.
BG’s road to a rematch is similarly difficult with a wrinkle tossed in to make things even more interesting.
The Falcons host Kent State on Nov. 17. The Flashes first play this weekend at Miami where they will be shooting for an eighth straight win to improve to 9-1, 6-0 in the MAC.
Kent is for real, a grouping of words that has rarely been uttered through the years. With a solid defense behind standout lineman Roosevelt Nix and a running back tandem – Trayion Durham and Dri Archer — nicknamed “Thunder and Lightning,” the Flashes would likely be an ever-so-slight favorite over BG even at Doyt Perry Stadium.
The wrinkle? The Falcons have moved their regular-season finale against Buffalo from the Doyt to Crew Stadium in Columbus. BG’s administration was thinking outside the box, I guess, but there will be a lot of second-guessing if the Falcons’ MAC East title hopes get boxed in as a result of sacrificing home-field advantage.
First things first — NIU for the Rockets and Kent for the Falcons; two big games where wins could pay big dividends.
It has been a splendid season for MAC teams, six of which are already bowl eligible. Some big wins against BCS conference opponents — Ohio over Penn State, Toledo over Cincinnati, Central Michigan over Iowa, Kent over Rutgers, and Ball State over Indiana for a sampling — have provided exclamation points.
For it to end with a UT-BG title game would be quite a turn of events.
Contact Blade sports columnistDave Hackenberg at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6398.
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