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Published: Wednesday, 5/23/2007

Finally, Toledo and Michigan will meet in football

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The University of Michigan has played football for 127 years, the University of Toledo for 89. The two schools, 50 miles apart, have never met on the same field.

But after just a few conversations and two weeks of work, that's finally going to change. And soon.

UT announced it has agreed to play the Wolverines on Oct. 11, 2008, at Michigan Stadium. The Rockets will receive $500,000 for the game, UT athletic director Mike O'Brien said.

UM athletic director Bill Martin contacted O'Brien earlier this month about a game, and their open dates matched up.

"We already had two home games and I knew we needed to pick up a road game," O'Brien said. "Bill said, 'Mike, I need an answer soon,' so we finished the paperwork early this week."

The game completes the Rockets' schedule for 2008. UT will open the season at Arizona and host Fresno State and Florida International.

Michigan is one of four Big Ten Conference teams the Rockets have never played. The others are Iowa, Illinois and Northwestern. UT has a 4-11 all-time record against Big Ten schools, but is 3-3 in the last 10 years.

"This is a great opportunity to play one of the nation's powerhouses in the largest football stadium in the country," coach Tom Amstutz said. "Our players will be very excited."

The Mid-American Conference and Big Ten have a scheduling partnership, although there are no set mandates. In the next four years, the Rockets have five contests scheduled against Big Ten teams, three against Purdue.

The Michigan contest is also attractive because of the short distance fans will have to travel.

"A game like this, it's more than the game," O'Brien said. "Our fans can take part in the activities leading up to it. It gives our fans an opportunity to experience a game at the Big House."

AFCA HONORS UT, BGSU: UT and Bowling Green were two of 34 football programs in the nation to be honored by the American Football Coaches Association for having a graduation rate of above 70 percent.

The study involves the freshman class from the academic year of 2001-02. The Rockets had a graduation rate of 82 percent, 22 points above the national average of 60 percent for the 107 schools participating in the survey. Exact graduation figures for Bowling Green were not available.

Contact Maureen Fulton at: mfulton@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.



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