It’s been over five years since Bowling Green upset Pitt to start the 2008 season. Yet some of us still remember that loss vividly. Quite a set of bookends to what otherwise should have been a very positive year. Start with a loss to Bowling Green at home. End with a 3-0 shutout in El Paso. 9-2 in between. Amazing how easy it is to forget that 9-2 part.
For Bowling Green, this is also a return to Ford Field, where they upset Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship — and cost the MAC a lot of cash by knocking NIU from an at-large BCS spot.
So far Bowling Green has sold roughly 7,500 tickets for the bowl game, and the Falcon players said they hope a large crowd of BG fans will have the same effect it had two weeks ago.
“The first drive of the MAC championship game, the D-line couldn’t hear my calls,” Lynch said. “It was a mess that first drive; it’s loud in there.”
Goble confirmed Lynch’s words, adding, “I messed up a call because I couldn’t hear what the linebackers were saying. We didn’t need to bring any ‘juice’ to that game.
“And it was exciting to see all the orange. In fact, that will be one of my favorite football memories: Being able to go up to the stands and [interact] with fans that were leaning over the brick walls.”
Not sure what Pitt’s ticket sales are doing at this point, but I’m guessing Bowling Green might have a slight edge in crowd.
This year, it isn’t Pitt that is in chaos — despite what you might think about recent recruiting misses and the “resignation” of the Strength & Conditioning Coach. Bowling Green is the one who has lost their head coach to Wake Forest.
Dave Clawson is already gone, as are a couple other coaches. Some coaches are staying with the team, but will leave after the Little Caesars Bowl to join him. Others are trying to find new work. How much this matters is debatable. It isn’t like Pitt after Fraud left and most of the staff left with him. And it isn’t like the players are trying to send a message to the school administration because the coach was fired.
They have a new coach who will take over after the bowl game. Certainly some BGSU players will look to impress their future coach.
The interim head coach, Adam Scheier, was the Falcons Tight Ends and Special Teams Coach. What’s that? A position coach actually with the responsibility of preparing special teams as well? Neat.
One of the big themes coming into the game involves Bowling Green players who Pitt may have showed some interest in recruiting, or that players wanted Pitt to recruit them. It starts with their quarterback Matt Johnson.
Johnson’s height (6 feet) scared away many bigger schools, including Pitt. It left him down to Temple and Bowling Green, with the Harrisburg native choosing the Falcons.
It now has the redshirt sophomore set to square off against the state school that passed on him, as Bowling Green will face Pitt in Thursday’s Little Caesars Bowl. Johnson hid little with that matchup on the horizon, tweeting his hopes to play Pitt in the hours before the game became official.
Johnson has no ill will toward the current Pitt staff, which is in its second year there. He counts several Panthers players as friends and high school peers. But this game is a chance for him to deliver another signature performance against a BCS-conference opponent, and it just happens to be in Detroit, where he left a huge impression earlier this month.
He’s not the only player looking to make sure Pitt remembers him now.
The BG player who knows the Panthers best could be freshman tackle Logan Dietz, a Pittsburgh Central Catholic grad.
“My high school is basically on Pitt’s campus, so I know the area well,” he said. “I have a lot of friends — both on the team and who don’t play football — who go to school there.
“It’s really exciting to play a team I grew up watching.”
Junior defensive end Bryan Thomas also knows the Panthers well: He grew up 20 minutes from Pittsburgh in Washington, Pa. He said Pitt recruited him while Dave Wannstedt was the head coach, but after Wannstedt was fired the school’s interest waned.
“I went to a couple of their camps, but when coach Wannstedt left [the interest] died down,” Thomas said. “But I wanted to go away from home, switch things up and try something new.
“I’m going to have some extra ‘juice’ for the game because that’s my hometown team.”
Pitt is the underdog, but hey, at least one preview is willing to call for the upset.