UT vs BG
The story behind the age old college-football rivalry, the battle of I-75 and how one spark ignited the flame of competition
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Throughout the career of every major person, team, country or company, there always seems to be that one recurring stain: a peer or counterpart that always seems to be a nuisance on your legacy, and they think the same as you.
Whether this ideology is rooted in reason or ignorance, the rivalry lives on. Hamilton has Burr, Enzo Ferrari has Ferruccio Lamborghini, TSM has CLG, and the University of Toledo has Bowling Green. Each and every one of these rivalries has a storied history, but since Lin-Manuel Miranda isn’t here to sing about MAC football, we’ll have to dig into what makes us hate the brown and orange with every fiber of our Rocket being on our own time.
To truly understand the gravity of the UT vs. BG antagonism, you have to travel back way past football, and into a time of disputed state borders and pen knives. Originally, when the Northwest ordinance of 1787 was set, it included the area that would be known as Toledo as a part of Michigan.
But when Michigan applied for statehood, it was found that the area was surveyed wrong. This means the 8-mile strip of swamp infested land was in dispute, leading to what is now known as “The Toledo War.”
This was enough protest for Michigan, and the Toledo strip was handed over to Ohio. This, however, was not good for the young town of Bowling Green, who now had to share a state with their interstate rivals, Toledo.
This rivalry eventually transitioned out of politics and onto the football field. The teams first met in 1919, where Toledo took home the victory 6-0. The rivalry didn’t last long at first. In 1935, when the teams took the field to face off for the 12th time, Toledo absolutely obliterated Bowling Green 63-0.
This loss caused the obviously mild mannered and sportsmanlike Falcons to storm the field in the wake of their loss, and start an all-out brawl between the opposing sides. The Toledo war returned again, and Deputy Joseph Wood rolled in his grave over nightmares of sharpened pens.
This brawl led to the game being suspended for 13 years, before the teams met yet again in 1948 to continue this historic rivalry. Despite the extended period with no football games, the teams seemed to pick up with the same levels of acrimony the had left with.
The harshness and bitterness came to fruition when the teams met yet again in 1951. Marked by harsh weather conditions, and even worse respect for the other teams, the game kicked off. The game was filled with dirty plays, horrible officiating and a deep hate for each other. After the end of the game, a seven-minute fight between the teams broke out, leaving with what witnesses say was a collection of scrapes and bruises, and up to 20 black eyes.
Toledo War part three didn’t stop the rivalry, and the games raged on, all the way to today. Bowling Green leads the overall record for the rivalry, with a record of 39–37–4, but the Falcons haven’t won a game yet this decade.
The wars and fights have died down over the years, with current punishments being more in line with the losing university president having to serve cafeteria food in rival school gear, but the roots of the rivalry lay within us all. So when the game this Saturday kicks off, remember the hard fight put up by the pen knife warriors before us, the fights fought in the 30s and the black eyes our veteran Rockets endured. But most of all, remember that, forever and always, the Rockets are better than the Falcons.