Another year, and the Battle of I-75 is already upon us, as Bowling Green and Toledo look to continue a storied tradition on the gridiron. But this year’s battle will take special meaning as it marks the 100-year anniversary of the first ever game between the two teams in 1919. As with any sports rivalry, there were plenty of all-time classic games played within the long history of the rivalry. Let’s take a look back at the best football games between the Falcons and Rockets over the past 100 years.
5. 1989 | Toledo 23, BGSU 27
In a thriller that came down to the last second, Bowling Green quarterback Rich Dackin drove the Falcons’ 85-yards for a touchdown pass to Ron Heard that sealed the win for the Falcons. After Bowling Green saw a 14-0 lead evaporate, they needed the heroics from their quarterback in order to pull this one out. It was an 11-yard pass that clinched it for the Falcons, but it was the play setting up the touchdown that might have been the biggest. On 3rd and 6, Dackin threw a 25-yard strike to Heard that would set the stage for the game winning touchdown two plays later. Dackin, specifically, was fantastic in the game as he threw for 303 yards on the day. The win helped the Falcons stay in contention in the MAC East division as well.
4. 2005 | Toledo 44, BGSU 41
It took double overtime to find a winner in the 2005 edition of the Battle of I-75, but Toledo was able to seal the victory thanks to Bruce Gradkowski’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hopkins. It was a back and forth game all night, as offense obviously took the forefront. Toledo totaled 582 yards of offense while Bowling Green’s Omar Jacobs completed 25 of 43 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns. P.J. Pope also had a whopping 23 carries for 131 yards on the night for the Falcons as well. The game meant everything for both teams too, as a win for either side would have locked up an appearance in the MAC Championship game.
3. 2013 | Toledo 28, BGSU 25
In the most recent game on this list, the Falcons lost a heartbreaker as they saw their 21-point comeback bid fall short. The Falcons trailed 21-0 in the first half before Matt Johnson led a 12-play, 81-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 24 seconds remaining in the first half. Johnson and the Falcons would go on to score 18 more points after that to make it 25 unanswered late into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Toledo's Alonzo Russell caught an 11-yard touchdown with 1:22 to go in the game. Bowling Green would have a last ditch effort to steal the game, but would fail to convert on 4th and 13. This game had major implications in the MAC, as BGSU came into the contest with a 3-0 conference record while Toledo came in at 2-1.
2. 1963 | Toledo 20, BGSU 22
When this game took place, the narrative of the rivalry was very similar to what it is now, except the roles were flipped. The Falcons were going for nine straight victories over the Rockets. So, when Toledo jumped out to a 20-0 lead at halftime, the home crowd at Bowling Green was shocked. At the time, Bowling Green was one of the few college football teams left undefeated and Toledo had already lost three games. The Falcons would pull off a comeback for the ages though, as they would erase the 20-point halftime deficit and score the winning touchdown with 1:31 remaining. Head coach Doyt L. Perry called the comeback, “as great of a comeback as we’ve ever made.” The Falcons would win the next three games in the series against Toledo following this historic win. The game was part of a 12-game win streak that still stands as the longest in the rivalry’s history.
1. 1969 | Toledo 27, BGSU 26
Just three seasons after Bowling Green secured a 12-game winning streak over Toledo, the Falcons were now big underdogs to the Rockets in 1969. After the Toledo jumped out to a 17-0 lead, it seemed as if the Rockets were going to run away with it. But in true Bowling Green fashion, the Falcons would come roaring back, taking a 26-24 lead with just 49 seconds left in the game. The Rockets however, would be able to use that 49 seconds to drive back down and kick a game-winning 37-yard field goal to secure the victory. The win would put Toledo on a fast track towards a MAC Championship and eliminate the already longshot Falcons from contention.
Like in 1969, the Falcons will once again be big underdogs to a Toledo team that hasn’t lost since the opening game of the season against Kentucky. The Falcons will look to create another memorable contest on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET at Doyt L. Perry Stadium.