Weather: Warm and Clear, Ticket Price $18 at gate, parking free
“Flying high with the Falcons” by Tree
Doyt Perry Stadium sits on the edge of the Bowling Green campus. It is a small stadium with only one layer of stands. It is mostly bench seating, but does have a number of premium seats with seat backs. With a price differential of only $3, I went for the premium seat. $18 for a primo spot on the 45 yard line. The first thing I noticed going in was that there was no area to buy BG gear. As per my tradition, I was looking to buy a blaze orange Falcon cap but could not find any vendor. With the stadium design, once I was inside the gate I could not get over to the other side of the stadium. However, as I was on the home side of the field, I assumed the visitors’ side was not going to be any better. I couldn’t even find anyone selling the 50/50 tickets. The concessions were pretty slim pickings as well. There was not anything unique other than beer sales.
With the stadium being small, there really did not appear to be a bad seat in the house. There is a small video scoreboard that does show some stats from time to time mixed in with the various replays. I did note that the operator must have been well schooled in what to show because any questionable calls made by the referees were not replayed on the big screen. The student body was well represented and cheered heavily for most of the game. It was free thunder stick night for the students but somehow, someone behind me had gotten a pair. Between that thumping and the Falcon Screech played after each first down, I thought I might be in for a long night. Fortunately, it did not take me long to get into mid-season form and I easily ignored the noise for the remainder of the game. The fans were very friendly and almost everyone was in orange and brown. I wondered if that was something BG copied from Cleveland. I would get some clarification on that later in the game.
Bowling Green is on the west side of Ohio and almost a straight shot on the Ohio Turnpike from Cleveland. After a brief jog on I -75, I could see the stadium from the road. It was easy to find and well-marked. Thanks to a well-designed website by BGSU, I knew there was $5 parking on the other side of the stadium. There was a bit of a backup in getting to the lots and I was starting to regret not parking in a private $5 lot right off the highway. However, my patience was rewarded as I saw some cars driving past the parking lot entrance. I followed them to a lot past the ice arena where the parking was free. It was a little bit of a walk but I got to see a little bit of the campus and made it to the gate about 10 minutes before kickoff. I had hoped to get early enough to participate in some tailgating but as it often happens, the logistics of driving from Va. to Pa. and then to the game took longer than I anticipated. I have hit three MAC schools in the last year and the rest stops on the turnpike are getting to become a bit too familiar. Given my lateness I missed the tailgating, but even from the road it looked fairly robust. The drive did help me comprehend why Toledo and BG are rivals. They are practically a stone’s throw away from each other.
Tulsa came into this game with high hopes for winning their conference and BG had the same thoughts in mind about the MAC. The Falcons were 3 and 1/2 point favorites at home so the game was basically a pick ’em. I had thought the game had the potential to be a shootout, but Tulsa evidently did not get that memo. The Falcons’ defense dominated Tulsa most of the game. When Tulsa did put together a couple of drives in the first half, they couldn’t close the deal and had to kick field goals. They missed them both. It was a good result for a struggling Bowling Green offense that could only kick field goals themselves. In the second, the Falcons finally punched one in to make it 13-0. The teams then punted back and forth where the ‘Golden Canes found themselves with poor field position again. It was then when the Tulsa coach made a call that was either one of guts or desperation. Facing a 4th down and very short on their 16, he called for a fake punt. To be honest, it looked like the punter might have been able to pick it up if he would have just ran straight for the marker. However, he tried to make a move like Barry Sanders, but being a punter, he ended up looking more like Barry White, coming down short of the line of scrimmage.
And with that stop it was effectively game over. BG scored a quick touchdown and the rout was on. It looked like it was going to be a shut out, but Tulsa managed a score late in the fourth. It was a big win for the Falcons and the MAC.
One of the reasons why I like the college game so much is that ratio of knowledgeable, friendly fans to drunken louts is much higher than the Pro game. The Bowling Green game was another example of that ratio. I had great conversations with the fan sitting next to me all night. I asked him about the BG colors and he explained that the brown and orange of the Falcons was actually the inspiration for the Browns color scheme and not the other way around. Apparently, Paul Brown held football camp at Bowling Green and found that he liked the school’s color scheme so much that he used it for his pro team, the Cleveland Browns. Since my companion was an alum of BG, I asked him about Toledo. He said, “you mean the Rockheads?” – note that they are the Toledo Rockets. He told me that it used to be the Toledo University and then they later changed it to The University of Toledo. From that point on, the UT fans tend to look down their noses at Bowling Green. It was another reinforcement that MAC rivalries are strong and games worth seeing.
However, the most interesting item of the note was that the wife of the fan next to me was the cousin of one Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M. We talked a little bit about Johnny Football and he told me that the kid was just a phenomenal athlete and that he was going to have an even better year than his Heisman year. He also shed some light on how Manziel came from a UT (that’s Texas not Toledo), and wanted to go to the Longhorns but Mac Brown saw him as a corner and not a QB. Clearly, it was not Coach Brown’s best decision.
I often hear folks deride the small conferences, but this little interaction alone made the game worth attending. In general, even at the small conferences, I run into great traditions, knowledgeable fans and often see future pros on the field. Once again, a MAC venue proved to be an enjoyable one. The way I figure it, I would hit Bowling Green early in the year when it could be paired with a trip to Cedar Point. Alternatively, I would wait for the Toledo game and be prepared to bundle up if it is a late season game.