UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO HANDOUT NO Enlarge
The University of Toledo football team didn't play in the postseason last year, but the Rockets did end the season with a win.
Just like the two seasons before, UT beat Bowling Green State University to win the Peace Pipe.
For nine of the Rockets' seniors, including starters Greg Hay, Jalen Parmele, Andrew Hawkins, Bernard Faithful and Chris Hopkins, beating the Falcons is all they have known. For five others, the only time UT lost to BGSU in their careers was when they were sitting out in their redshirt year.
UT's season likely will come to an end today, but despite again missing out on a bowl game the Rockets (5-6, 3-4 Mid-American Conference) still have a lot to play for. UT's seniors are 3-0 against BGSU, and want to be the first class since 1998 to leave with an unblemished mark against their rivals.
"They've always been close games," Parmele said. "We've been lucky to come out with a victory three times. It just comes down to who wants it more. If we execute more plays, less mistakes, less penalties, ultimately that will result in victory."
The Rockets have assumed series dominance, winning nine of their last 12 games against the Falcons, four of six under coach Tom Amstutz.
"Whenever you play a tough rivalry it's tough to get any kind of a streak going," Amstutz said. "To be 3-0 for the seniors is outstanding. We have momentum and we've been playing well against them, but they're an outstanding team."
Before talking to his team earlier this week as the Rockets began to prepare, Amstutz did some historical research. He found that only one UT team has come back from a 1-4 start to avoid a losing record. That was the 1988 squad, who finished 6-5 under Dan Simrell.
At the end of September, UT was 1-4. The Rockets don't want to have back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1977-78. They want to match 1988.
"From where we were, getting back to that would be a good thing," Hay said. "It's not where we wanted to be, but we're in this situation and we need to make sure we finish what we've got our goal set as."
The Rockets would also like to put a damper on BGSU's season. A 7-5 record for the Falcons, rather than 8-4, would mean a bowl bid wouldn't be a sure thing.
"They're bowl eligible, but I think they still have to get a 'W' against us," punter Brett Kern said. "There's going to be a lot on the line."
The seniors want to finish the job in the rivalry.
"Everyone wants to be remembered here," defensive tackle Tyree Pollard said. "The Peace Pipe's been here for the past three years and we want to keep it here."
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