Even though the Houston Cougars currently control their fate to secure a New Year's Day bowl bid, that doesn't mean there aren't other story lines to follow. Tuesday night, when the Toledo Rockets roll into the Bowling Green Falcons' Doyt Perry Stadium, it won't just be a showdown of two MAC powers. It could be a preview of this year's MAC Championship game.
But forget for a moment about conference championships and postseason aspirations. When we really get down to the meaning of Tuesday's matchup, it's about one thing and one thing only: Hatred.
There are rivalries, and then there is the Battle of I-75. Arguably the greatest Group of 5 rivalry outside of Army-Navy, BG and Toledo have been going at it since 1919. Over that nearly 100-year span these two have split hairs, with Bowling Green holding the lead 39-36-4.
The Underdogs Poll is a weekly venture in which SB Nation's blogs on non-power conference schools vote to rank the top 15 non-power conference teams at the moment.
|Dropped out: SDSU | Others receiving votes: SDSU (9), USF (6), Georgia Southern (5), Cincinnati (3), Air Force (1), New Mexico (1)|
Separated by a mere 30-minute drive down Interstate 75 (and just a handful of points in this week's poll), this isn't your run-of-the-mill rivalry. There's no love lost between these two Ohio squads.
In 1935, things got so out of control following a 63-0 Toledo win that fans rioted, causing (according to one legend) BG to remove UT from its schedule until 1947. In the 1960s, Toledo installed a genuine military-grade decommissioned missile, which the school aimed so that it would land at the heart of the Falcons' Doyt Perry Stadium if launched.
And the rivalry has only gotten better with age.
In recent seasons, the game has often been a showdown of the MAC's best divisional offerings. And while BG has punched a ticket to the MAC title game in three straight seasons, the Falcons haven't beaten Toledo since 2009.
While Bowling Green has already secured a trip to Detroit, Toledo needs to win out (with some help) to lock up a title shot (against BG), adding another wrinkle to Tuesday's matchup.
Featuring two of the most potent offenses in college football (the Falcons average just over 45 points a game, Toledo averages 35), this midweek MACtion showdown has the makings of an instant classic. Points. Cold weather. Championship stakes. And pure hatred.
What more could you ask for in a game?
Keenan Reynolds: Leading off is the new NCAA career rushing touchdown leader. Navy's quarterback broke Montee Ball's record on his first of four — yes, four — rushing touchdowns in Saturday's 41-point beat down of SMU. He also added another one through the air. Reynolds has guided Navy to arguably its best season since the Roger Staubach days.
Travis Greene: It's about damn time I give a sticker to a Falcons player not named Matt Johnson or Roger Lewis. Greene, the team's leading rusher, was a key factor in BG's stomping of the MAC West leading WMU Broncos. His three touchdowns and 170 yards marked his best performance yet. Which is scary, because if this offense is still warming up, things could get crazy come December.
Nick Mullens: Southern Mississippi's junior quarterback had himself a field day against Rice this past week. Five touchdowns and 386 yards while completing just under 75 percent of his passes is considered a statement around these parts. Mullens has the Golden Eagles rolling ahead of their season finale showdown with Louisiana Tech two weeks from now, a game which will determine who goes to the Conference USA championship game.
Marlon Mack: The USF Bulls didn't just beat Temple on Saturday, they rolled over what many considered the toughest defense outside of a power conference. Notre Dame didn't put up 200 total rushing yards on the Owls. Mack put up 230 and two scores by himself. USF is suddenly in a position to claim the AAC East division title (with a little help from Memphis this week) thanks to Mack's day.
Jalen Robinette: Did you know Air Force could throw the ball? You weren't the only one shocked by Saturday's aerial assault by the Falcons. Robinette hauled in seven passes for 210 yards and a touchdown for what wound up being the best performance by an Air Force receiver since 1978.
THREE TO WATCH
Toledo at Bowling Green, Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Air Force at Boise State, Friday, Nov. 20 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Memphis at Temple, Saturday, Nov. 21 at noon ET on ESPNU
BONUS: Georgia Southern at Georgia, Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU