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Rivalry game means a lot to everyone with Rockets

10/11/2016, 12:17am EDT
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Players notice extra buzz before Battle of I-75


Toledo receiver Cody Thompson said this week’s game against Bowling Green not only is important to the players and coaching staff, but fans and alumni. BLADE PHOTO

University of Toledo coach Jason Candle will treat preparation for Saturday's rivalry game with Bowling Green like any other, but at the same time he knows that the Battle of I-75 really is not like any other game on the schedule.

“You treat this like any other game in your preparation of what your routine looks like, but this game is not like any other game,” Candle said. “This game is very important to this city and it’s very important to this region. It’s very important to past players from both teams. Our guys know what this game means and what this game means to the city. One of the reasons why you come to Toledo is to play Bowling Green.”

The players already notice an extra buzz in the air around the area that is not there for just any game.

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“It’s hard to say there is not anything different,” junior receiver Cody Thompson said. “We try to keep it like a normal game week, but everybody knows it’s a different vibe in the locker room and around the community. We just have to stay inside ourselves and treat this like another game and go out there and prepare like we have been.”

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

Toledo enters with a 4-1 record and a 1-0 mark in the Mid-American Conference, while Bowling Green comes in 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the MAC. The Rockets have won six consecutive games in the series, but the Falcons still lead the overall series 39-37-4.

Candle is quick to point out Toledo’s recent success in the series does not diminish the rivalry in any sense.

“Don’t get it confused, in the all-time series, Bowling Green still leads Toledo,” Candle said. “Even though we've had success in the recent past, that doesn’t change the thought process of someone on the other end of that coin in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s or ’90s or maybe even before then.”

Thompson said the Bowling Green game is one the players look forward to when they play for the Rockets.

“Every school you go to, you know who your rival is and that game is circled on the schedules for players, coaches, fans, alumni,” Thompson said. “It’s a big game for us. Really, there’s a lot to look forward to in those games and they are fun to play in. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Toledo won 44-28 last season at Bowling Green and the Rockets topped the Falcons 27-20 in a snowy game at the Glass Bowl in 2014.

UT quarterback Logan Woodside said he remembers the 2014 game, which he started as a sophomore. 

“I remember it was snowing, it was cold, I had two interceptions and like 50 yards passing and I still had that ankle injury then,” Woodside said. ”But we won the game, which is all that really matters.”

The Toledo seniors will have a chance to finish 4-0 in their career against Bowling Green and will be counted on to make sure the younger players understand the significance of this game.

“You just have to do a great job of educating them on what that means,” Candle said. “Some of the seniors have been through it and some of those games have been really close. Last year, Bowling Green was on top of our league and they were an exciting team playing at a high level. and we were able to knock them off and sing that fight song in the locker room. That’s a special deal. Rivalry games are fun.”

MEN’S BASKETBALL SCRIMMAGE: Fans and alumni will have the chance to see the Toledo men’s basketball team in action from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday as part of an open scrimmage in Savage Arena.

The Rockets will have an exhibiton game at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 5 against Ohio Dominican, then open the regular season at Saint Joseph's, an NCAA tournament team a year ago, at 7 p.m. Nov. 12.

The Rockets’ home opener is at 8 p.m. Nov. 15 against Youngstown State in the second game of a men’s-women’s doubleheader. UT’s women hosts Rhode Island at 5:30 p.m.

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo