Going into this season, Bowling Green State University football fans had reason for skepticism.
Last season was a disappointment, with a loss to a winless Temple team and a near-loss to Buffalo. The Falcons finished 4-8, 3-5 in the Mid-American Conference. For those of us who went to the school during the short Urban Meyer tenure, and stuck around for the first two seasons of Gregg Brandon, last season was puzzling.
Was this the end of an era? Was Bowling Green back to being just an average mid-major, like it was during the final years of former coach Gary Blackney?
I don’t know if Saturday’s overtime win over Minnesota answered those questions. But the win did provide many of us with a sigh of relief – and plenty of jubilation.
Though it was far from the day’s biggest upset (I heard something about Appalachian State?), it gave Falcon fans hope that this year could be a step forward, and not a step back.
BG’s quarterback, a 19-year old sophomore named Tyler Sheehan, is a long way from deserving the praise once given to Josh Harris and Omar Jacobs. But for one game, Sheehan was fantastic.
He threw for 388 yards and two touchdowns against a Big Ten defense, in its opener. He completed a 9-yard TD pass in overtime to Marques Parks, then found Freddie Barnes for a game-winning 2-point conversion.
In some ways, the ending was similar to another game against a Big Ten team – Northwestern. That was during one of the last games of 2001, which convinced many BG fans something special was happening.
In that game, a BG touchdown with 59 seconds left in regulation brought the Falcons to within a point of the Wildcats. Meyer, in his first season as BG coach, opted to go for the win. A rush by Cole Magner secured the 43-42 win, and gave the team, the coach, and the program a major boost. By the next season, the Falcons were ranked in the top 25.
I’m not saying the same thing will happen in 2007, but Brandon (BG’s offensive coordinator and assistant head coach in 2001) was willing to take a major risk, and it paid off. The Falcon players should have a ton of confidence – and they’ll need it, with games against Michigan State and Boston College on the horizon, not to mention a typically tough Mid-American Conference schedule.
Some critics may point out that Minnesota was 6-7 last season, or that BG led 21-0 over the Gophers before rallying.
But a win over a Big Ten team is a win over a Big Ten team. It’s a victory any mid-major should savor.
It’s also one to build on.Powered by Sidelines