|Bowling Green Falcons football|
|Athletic director||Greg Christopher|
|Head coach||Dave Clawson|
|Home stadium||Doyt Perry Stadium|
|Stadium surface||Field Turf|
|Location||Bowling Green, Ohio|
|League||NCAA Division I (FBS)|
|Postseason bowl record||4–6|
|Claimed national titles||1 NCAA Collegiate|
|Colors||Orange and Brown|
|Fight song||Forward Falcons (Official)|
|Mascot||Freddie and Frieda Falcon|
|Marching band||Falcon Marching Band|
Kent State Golden Flashes
Miami (OH) Redhawks
Michigan State Spartans
The Bowling Green Falcons football team is the intercollegiate footballs team of Bowling Green State University. The team is a member of the of the NCAA, playing at the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly Division I-A, level; BGSU football competes within the Mid-American Conference in the East Division. The Falcons have played their home games in Doyt Perry Stadium since 1966. The stadium currently holds 23,724 spectators. In their 93-year history, the Falcons have won ten MAC conference championships and one national championship - as voted by the UPI - in 1959. The current head coach is Dave Clawson, who had previously been the offensive coordinator at Tennessee and replaces Gregg Brandon, following Brandon's dismissal after six seasons.
- 1 History
- 2 Home venues
- 3 Conference affiliations
- 4 Championships
- 5 Important games
- 6 Coaching history
- 7 Individual award winners
- 8 Individual school records
- 9 Future non-conference opponents
- 10 Falcons in professional football
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The football program shortly after the university opened, then known as the Bowling Green Normal School. In the early years of Bowling Green State Normal College, common nicknames of BG athletic teams used by sports writers were “B.G. Normals,” “Teachers,” and the “B.G. Pedagogues". The team began play in 1919 and played on a local field behind the Ridge Street School in Bowling Green, Ohio. The first team was composed of nineteen male students, over half of the 36 men that enrolled in the college. The roster included Ivan "Doc" Lake, who would later would give the Falcons their nickname. John Stitt served as the program's first football coach during the initial 3-game 1919 season. The first football game in BG's history was held on October 3, 1919 against Toledo University, a series that would turn into a rivalry that still exists in the present day. The game ended with a 0-6 score. The second game of the season marked BG's first road game at Defiance College, where the team dropped to 0-2 with a 12-0 shutout. In the final game of the short season the team lost to Michigan State Normal College (Eastern Michigan) 0-10. In the 1920 season, BG recorded its first score in a 6-10 loss at Findlay College. The 1920 team later recorded the program's first win, in the eighth and final game of the season, when the team defeated Kent State Normal College 7-0.
The team joined the Northwestern Ohio Intercollegiate Athletic Association (NWOIAA) starting in the 1921 season. In the first game BG and Kent battled to a scoreless tie in a game that saw no fan attendance due to influenza epidemic. After a 7-0 win over Defiance, BG faced Findlay on October 15, 1921 in a game that set a national collegiate record in which BG scored 22 touchdowns to win 151-0 over Findlay College. Despite dropping the following game 0-27 to Ashland College, the team finished the season with a record of 3-1-1 and won the Northwestern Ohio Intercollegiate Athletic Association conference championship, the first title in school history. The team would repeat as the NWOIAA Champions in 1922, 1925, 1928 and 1929.
Warren Steller became the head coach of BG in 1924 and in his second season as head coach, BG recorded its first one-loss season in 1925. The record was repeated two seasons later, in 1927, when the team dropped its final game of the season 6-12 to Bluffton. During the same season, Ivan "Doc" Lake, a BG alumnus and football player on the original team, suggested the nickname “Falcons”. The nickname's popularity grew rapidly and was adopted by the school. In 1928, the Falcons recorded their first undefeated season with a record of 5-0-2. The team was led by Chet Chapman, who received the conference MVP award and also became Bowling Green's first All-American. Steller's Falcons repeated the feat just a few seasons later, in 1930, when the team went 6-0-2. The 1931 season marked the team's final year that the Falcons participated in the Northwestern Ohio Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The team joined the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) in 1933, after it played one season as an independent team. Warren Steller's last season as head coach of BG football came in 1934. In the years after he continued to serve as the manager of the baseball team and also served as athletic director until 1941.
Ohio Athletic Conference Era and Whittaker years: 1933-55
The Falcons struggled in their initial seasons as a member of the OAC, when the team recorded a losing record in three straight seasons from 1933-35. The first winning record came in 1936 when the Falcons finished the season with a record of 4-2-3. In 1937, University Stadium was dedicated as the team's home stadium. The venue was located in the northeast part of campus and replaced the field and wooden bleachers with a larger capacity, permanent structure with the aid of Federal funding part of the Works Progress Administration. The new stadium did not provide much home field advantage, with BG only recording two home wins and ending the season 3-4-1. One of the team's best seasons in the OAC came in 1939 when BG finished with a record of 6-1-1. The Falcons came within a point of an undefeated season, their only loss to Capital by the score of 6-7. Robert Whittaker became head coach in 1941 and guided the Falcons to their best record as a member of the Ohio Athletic Conference when the team outscored opponents by a combined score of 173-40 and recorded a 7-1-1 overall record; and finished as one of four undefeated teams in conference play with a conference record of 4-0-1, along with Case Institute of Technology, Ohio Northern and Toledo.
From 1942 until 1952 The team played independent of a conference affiliation until the university joined the Mid-American Conference (MAC). The highlight of BG's independent years came in 1948 when the Falcons went 8-0-1. The only blemish on the season came at the hands of John Carroll, when the teams battled to tie score of 13-13. Bowling Green had initial success in the new conference and finished with a record of 7-2 in the 1952 season. The only losses on the season to Miami (OH) and Ohio. The success of the first MAC season was short-lived with Bowling Green only winning 3 games over the next two seasons; and in 1955, Doyt Perry replaced Whittaker as head coach.
Doyt Perry Era: 1955-64
Perry, who attended Bowling Green and was a three-sport athlete for the Falcons and the captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams in 1931-32 returned to Bowling Green after serving as a high school coach at Upper Arlington and the offensive backfield coach of Ohio State. Perry changed the culture of the program, and focused on decreases in mistakes, penalties, fumbles, interceptions, blocked kicks and missed assignments. With the new coach and coaching style, the team's record quickly turned around and finished with a 7-1-1 record Perry's first season as head coach. In that season, the team's only loss came to the Miami RedHawks by the score of 0-7. The team outscored opponents 224-53, compared to being outscored 125-196 in the 1954 season. The team continued success into the 1956 season and recorded seven straight victories before picking up a 7-7 tie vs. Miami (OH) and finishing the season with an eight win on the season for a final unbeaten record of 8-0-1 and Bowling Green's first MAC Championship. After two successful seasons in 1957 and 1958, in which the Falcons went 13-3-2 overall between the two season, The season included conference wins over Miami, Kent State, Ohio, Toledo, and Western Michigan and non-conference opponents of Dayton, Delaware, Marshall, and Southern Illinois. BG recorded two games where the team scored 51 points, and the closest game of the season was a 13-9 win over Ohio in the last game of the season on November 21. Bowling Green finished the year with a perfect record of 9-0-0 and were named the Mid-American Conference Champions and National Champions in the NCAA College Division.
The next season, the Falcons began the season with a 5-0 record that included wins over MAC rivals Miami, Toledo and Kent State. And on October 29, 1960, the team got a sixth straight win on the season and seventeenth straight victory overall, beating California Polytechnic 50-6. Shortly after the victory, news spread that the Mustangs' plane crashed on takeoff when leaving Toledo. Two weeks later, the team faced Ohio University in a rematch of the championship-clinching game in the 1959 season. The Bobcats snapped the team's eighteen-game win streak and ended the team's chance at a second consecutive national title. With the 14-7 win, the Bobcats earned the MAC Championship and 1960 NCAA College Division National Championship. The Falcons went on to beat Texas-El Paso and finished the season with an 8-0-1 record, ranked second in the MAC. The 1961 team finishing the regular season with an 8-1 record in the regular season, the single loss to Miami (OH) by one point, 6-7. Despite the loss, the Falcons claimed their third MAC title and was selected to play in the Mercy Bowl, the program's first bowl game. The team flew to California to play Fresno State at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Proceeds of the game went to the survivors and families of the Cal Poly plane crash. The Falcons lost the game 36-6 but over $170,000 was raised for the victims.
Bowling Green repeated as MAC champions in 1962, and finished the season with a record of 7-1-1 with a 24-24 tie at Miami (OH) and a 7-23 non-conference road loss to West Texas State. In the 1963 season, Bowling Green ended with a record of 8-2, including a home loss to Miami RedHawks and a road loss at Ohio. The Falcons started the 1964 season on an eight-game winning streak. In the ninth game of the season, Bowling Green faced tough rival, Ohio and was held scoreless with the Bobcats winning 21-0. The team rebounded in the final game of the season to beat Xavier 35-7 and claimed the MAC Championship. BG finished the season with a 9-1 record and outscored opponents 275-87. Perry stepped down as head coach of the football team after the 1964 season to take a position as the athletic director at the university and served in the position until 1970. He finished with an overall record of 77–11–5 and a conference record of 46–8–5 over ten seasons. During Perry's tenure at Bowling Green, he won five Mid-American Conference Championships and one NCAA College Division National Championship. His .855 winning percentage placed Perry among the top five in college football history and he was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
Gibson and Nehlen years: 1965-76
Bob Gibson, a long-time assistant coach at BG, was hired to replace Perry as head coach of the Falcons. In the 1965 season the team again won another MAC title with a 7-2 record. The Falcons continued their winning ways under Gibson in 1966 and 1967, posting records of 6–3 and 6–4 respectively.
After one season as an assistant coach to Gibson, Don Nehlen took over as head coach for the Falcons in 1968. Nehlen played quarterback at Bowling Green from 1955 to 1957 and led the team to the 1956 MAC championship. After graduating from BG, he began his coaching career in 1958 at Mansfield Senior High School. He later served as head coach at Canton South High School and Canton McKinley High School and an assistant coach at the University of Cincinnati. The Falcons welcomed Nehlen in as head coach with a 62-8 win over Ball State and opened the 1968 season on a three game win streak. The team finished the season 6-3-1 and followed with a 6-4 record in the 1969 season. Despite a 2-6-1 record in the 1970 season, Bowling Green rebounded back to a 6-4 record in 1971.
The Falcons began Nehlen's fifth season as head coach against Purdue on September 16, 1972. The game was tied in the fourth quarter when the Falcons moved into field goal range and Don Taylor kicked the ball through the uprights to give the Falcons a 17-14 upset win against a top 20 ranked opponent. In the 1973 season, BG again picked up a big opening win, at Syracuse 41-14. The Falcon's rushing game greatly improved under Nehlen. The team was led by Paul Miles, who ran for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons from 1971 to 1973. Miles teammate, Dave Preston earned a position as the career leader in rushing with 3,423 yards during his time with the Falcons. In 1975, Dan Saleet rushed for a team leading 1,114 yards. Nehlen led the Falcons added two more upsets in the Nehlen era with a 23-21 win over BYU and a 22-7 win against Syracuse in 1975 and 1976 respectively. The major wins gave Nehlen the unofficial title of the “Master of the Upset” from many BGSU fans. Nehlen left Bowling Green after the 1976 season and guided the Falcons to a 53-35-4 record in nine seasons as head coach. He went on to coach at West Virginia and coached 21 seasons for the Mountaineers and became the 17th coach in NCAA Division I-A history to record 200 victories with a 202-128-8 overall record.
Stolz and Ankney years: 1977-90
Gary Blackney era: 1990-2000
Bowling Green competes in the East division for football. Originally Bowling Green was to move to the West division for the 2012 season, but that never occurred after Temple left the MAC for the Big East prior to the 2012 season.
- Ridge Street School (1919-1923)
- Unnamed on-campus stadium (1923-1937)
- University Stadium (1937–1965)
- Doyt Perry Stadium (1966–present)
- 1919-21: Independent
- 1921-31: Northwestern Ohio Intercollegiate Athletic Association
- 1931-33: Independent
- 1933-41: Ohio Athletic Conference
- 1941-52: Independent
- 1952–Present: Mid-American Conference
Bowling Green has won or shared a conference championship 15 times, including 10 times in the Mid-American Conference:
ESPN College GameDay
MAC Championship games
Bowling Green has been invited to play in 10 bowl games in its history, compiling a record of 4–6 in those games.
Individual award winners
Team and conference MVPs
Mid-American Conference honors
Individual school records
Future non-conference opponents
Falcons in professional football