The Falcons, a MAC contender under coach Urban Meyer in 2001-02, may be back.
Bowling Green recorded a stunning 32-31 overtime win at Minnesota on Saturday. The victory marked the 50th career game for Gregg Brandon since he replaced Meyer.
Last year, the Falcons were one of the youngest teams in the country, playing more than 30 freshmen. At Minnesota, the Falcons showed they had grown up.
"It is great coming off of last year, but I maintained all of last year because of our inexperience and youth," Brandon said. "We played a lot of kids last year that were not ready to play. This is just one game. We have Michigan State next week."
The question mark at quarterback looks solved. Last year, the Falcons utilized three QBs. Entering the 2007 season, sophomore Tyler Sheehan won the starting spot. Against the Golden Gophers, Sheehan, making his first career start, sparked the Falcons to an early 21-0 lead, setting the stage for the upset win. Sheehan shredded Minnesota's defense, throwing for a career-high 388 yards and two touchdowns.
Last year, in his true freshman season, Sheehan completed 23 passes for 192 yards and didn't throw a touchdown pass. By the end of the first half Saturday, Sheehan had obliterated his freshman totals with 211 passing yards and one touchdown.
"I thought he was outstanding," Brandon said of Sheehan. "I thought he was remarkably poised for the situation. In a hostile environment, he was great. We talk about character in the face of adversity, that kid's character showed up today."
Sheehan showed a lot of heart and guts in not getting rattled when the Golden Gophers mounted a comeback to take a late lead. He led the Falcons to a game-tying field goal in the final seconds of regulation, and threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Marques Parks in overtime. Sheehan capped off his night by hitting Freddie Barnes for a two-point conversion to knock off Minnesota in overtime. Sheehan even caught a touchdown pass, a 24-yarder from Corey Partridge on a trick play to hand the Falcons a 14-0 lead.
"When I went to the huddle, I told the guys that they were about to see me on ‘SportsCenter,'" Sheehan said of his touchdown reception. "They all looked at me confused and I told them we were running the trick play that we have been working on. Corey played quarterback in high school, so when he threw it, I just told myself to not drop it."
The Falcons weren't afraid to try new things, even playing reserve quarterback Anthony Turner for a few plays on two drives. Turner rushed for 29 yards on four attempts.
Fatigue, dropped passes and mistakes nearly doomed the Falcons. But unlike last year's team, the Falcons didn't wilt under the pressure of playing a big game. Bowling Green racked up 412 passing yards and finished with 512 total yards to end Minnesota's 14-game home winning streak over non-conference teams.
Newcomer Eric Ransom played a big factor in the victory. Ransom caught a 53-yard touchdown pass, ending with a team-high seven catches for 96 yards. The special teams weren't as bad as they were last year. Kicker Sinisa Vrvilo missed a 42-yarder, but he drilled a 35-yard field goal with three seconds left to force overtime. Nick Iovinelli averaged 38.7 yards per punt.
The best news for the Falcons, though, was the special teams not making a game-changing mistake. Bowling Green finished plus-three in the turnover margin, a big change from last year.
GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Tyler Sheehan — He put the Falcons on his shoulders and led them to a big victory at Minnesota. Sheehan set personal highs with 388 passing yards, two touchdown passes and 34 completions, and he caught a 24-yard touchdown pass.
KEEP AN EYE ON: TB Eric Ransom — In his first game at BGSU, Ransom showed the ability to catch the ball with seven catches for 96 yards. He rushed for 37 yards on six carries.
LOOKING GOOD: The BGSU offense attacked Minnesota with an array of trick plays and showed guts with the game-winning two-point conversion. QB Tyler Sheehan played the game of his life, leading the Falcons to an early 21-point lead and then maintaining his composure to help the Falcons tie the game late in regulation.
TB Eric Ransom caught seven passes for 96 yards and recorded 37 yards rushing.
WR Corey Partridge tossed a 24-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
LB John Haneline was credited with 15 tackles.
K Sinisa Vrvilo hit a 35-yard field goal to tie the game with three seconds left in regulation.
STILL NEEDS WORK: It's hard to single out the defense in the big win over Minnesota, but the Golden Gophers scored 24 consecutive points to take a 24-21 lead late in the game.
DE Diyral Briggs ended with three tackles.
K Sinisa Vrvilo missed a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'd give him an A-plus. I have played that position before, and I know it's tough. Trying to focus on our other 10 players and the defense, he did very well all night." — BGSU wide receiver and former quarterback Freddie Barnes on the play of sophomore quarterback Tyler Sheehan.
Falcons Feeling Good after Gophers
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