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Falcons an Rockets no longer rivals

October 13, 2016 GMT

It’s Bowling Green-Toledo. It’s the Battle of I-75. It’s no longer a rivalry.

What?

It’s been six years since Bowling Green last beat Toledo, and odds-makers in Las Vegas think it will soon become seven years. Toledo is a 31-point favorite over the Falcons in Saturday’s game, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m. in the Glass Bowl.

“I’m looking to make it a rivalry,” said first-year Bowling Green coach Mike Jinks. “We’re looking to make it a rivalry in 2016 because it’s not a rivalry until the other team wins. A rivalry goes back and forth. And we haven’t won in a long time. So we’re excited about the opportunity to rekindle that rivalry once again.”

The seasons would suggest that any rekindling will wait at least another year.

Bowling Green is off to a 1-5 start, including an 0-2 mark in the Mid-American Conference, and is essentially in the midst of a rebuild after winning the MAC title two of the last three seasons. Conversely, Toledo is 4-1, 1-0 under first-year coach Jason Candle. The Rockets are winning by an average of 28.3 points per game.

“Since I stepped off the plane that’s all anybody has talked about,” Jinks said. “Really, coming from (Texas) Tech, we were so far in west Texas that we never really had a natural rivalry. So I’m excited about the opportunity to be a part of it.

“We need this. Sometimes in these games you can throw the records out. And that’s the kind of ball game that we need right now.”

Bowling Green leads the all-time series 39-37-4, but the recent drought has changed the way the Falcons think of the game.

In rivalries, the marquee matchup is often circled on the calendar before the season. It’s the one game that teams look forward to each year, no matter what the previous results have been.

Last season, with one of its most prolific offenses in school history, Bowling Green finally felt it had an edge. But from the first play from scrimmage — an interception off the hands of Roger Lewis — miscues became the story, and the Falcons were dropped once again.

Now, even to the players, it has become just another game — at least publicly.

“This year it’s just focusing as another game on the schedule,” said fifth-year senior left tackle Logan Dietz. “We’ll let all the fans and everything get all the hype about the rivalry. For us it’s just another MAC game, just another opportunity to get better.

“We’re just trying to win one game at a time. Just because it’s Toledo doesn’t make it any different. We’re looking to have something to build on heading into next week.”

With all of that said, this game would quickly turn into a rivalry once again should Bowling Green manage to pull off an upset.

A win against Toledo would all but save the Falcons’ season — a season that Jinks called a “debacle” during Monday’s weekly press conference.

“Winning a game like this would do a ton for our season moving forward,” Jinks said. “Not just because it’s our rival but because it’s one of the better teams in the MAC. That would be a huge confidence boost.”