Rockets set to renew Battle of I-75 with BG
It may be just the third game of the season for each team, but the time has come for Toledo and Bowling Green to renew the Battle of I-75.
The 77th installment of this rivalry will be played in September for just the second time and this edition will be the earliest it has ever been contested.
Still, all who are involved understand the importance and magnitude of the annual showdown.
“This is what college football is all about,” said UT head coach Matt Campbell. “We know what the rivalry stands for. A very confident and experienced football team comes into the Glass Bowl in one of the great rivalries in all of college football. We know what it means to our football program and our university and we look forward to playing.”
The Rockets (1-1) enter this game coming off a win last weekend on the road in Wyoming. Terrance Owens threw for 300 yards on 25-of-41 passing and four touchdowns. The junior also added a career-high 74 yards on the ground en route to winning Mid-American Conference West division Player of the Week honors.
Owens was rewarded for his excellent play and remained in the game from start to finish, something that’s been highly rare for UT signal callers the last couple years.
Senior Austin Dantin, the co-starter according to the team’s official depth chart, did not see the field against the Cowboys. He played in each of the last 27 games he was healthy for.
As was the case last week, it appears T.O. will get the nod against BGSU.
“Today, if all was equal, Terrance would start the football game again this week,” Campbell said. “Terrance played an excellent game last week, really got things rolling early in the football game and that’s why we decided to stay with him.”
Bowling Green (1-1) will trot out Matt Schilz, a junior who will suit up against Toledo for the third time.
Schilz has completed 50-of-89 passes for 439 yards with two scores and three interceptions in his two contests against the Rockets, both resulting in losses.
His numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but Campbell and his staff know what he and the Falcon offense are capable of.
“I think their quarterback is an excellent football player,” Campbell said. “He’s started there [for three years] and is doing a great job and I think we’ll get his best shot. I think they’re a confident football team coming in here this Saturday.”
Bowling Green faced a tall task in week one, traveling to Gainesville to face No. 25 Florida. They gave the Gators all they could handle, leading 7-0 after the first quarter and trailing by only three points to begin the fourth before losing 27-14.
The Falcons picked up their first win last weekend with a 21-13 win over Idaho.
Schilz threw for 283 yards on 24-of-35 passing and a touchdown. Sophomore running back Anthon Samuel added a pair of scores on the ground.
BG will be facing a UT defense that has yielded over 1,100 yards of total offense in their first two games.
“We have great respect for their football team,” Campbell said. “We know it’s a very confident and good football team coming in here. But I think that’s the Mid-American Conference. If you don’t come ready to play each and every week, then you’re going to get beat, and it doesn’t matter who you play in this conference.”
Campbell is no stranger to the I-75 rivalry having coached at both schools. He was with the Falcons from 2003-04 as a graduate assistant and returned to coach the offensive line from 2006-08 before joining the Rockets.
Current UT defensive assistant and special teams coordinator Stan Watson was on Bowling Green’s staff from 2008-11.
Campbell downplayed the notion that he’ll be leaning on Watson for player evaluations this week, but he does know what this game means to both sides.
“Both football programs, both universities have a lot of pride,” Campbell said. “They both have a lot of tradition and I think it means the world to not only the kids that are playing, but to their alumni.”
A new trophy will be at stake this year as the Peace Pipe was retired after the 2010 season because of its negative connotation with Native Americans culture. The Battle of I-75 Trophy was not completed in time for last year’s game, but it was eventually given to Toledo and currently sits in their trophy case.
Along with the new trophy and the earlier meeting between these two bitter rivals, the 7 p.m. start time and the under the lights finish should pump even more excitement into what will surely be an energetic crowd.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere here, both are great universities,” Campbell said. “Their students, they have a chance to come early in the season be part of what looks like great weather for Saturday and a chance to be a part of something really special here.”
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