When thinking of famous trophy rivalries, one may consider the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe between Minnesota and Wisconsin, or the Old Oaken Bucket awarded yearly to the Indiana/Purdue victor. However, the Peace Pipe trophy fought over by Bowling Green and Toledo probably cracks the top ten on few people’s lists. However, the intensity, history, and importance of this battle is just like any other.
The day after Thanksgiving is more of a traditional day to view football on TV as opposed to armoring yourself against the elements. Despite the chilly temps and minimal students due to holiday break, Doyt Stadium nearly sold out, which is telling for this rivalry. Toledo has owned the Falcons over the past four years. Only a few fifth year seniors can recall the last time Bowling Green took home the Peace Pipe. The Falcons had the better record today and the motivation to secure their bowl status, so much was on the line for the home team and recent history didn’t play a role.
Bowling Green quickly took command during the first quarter with a safety to open followed by a couple touchdown drives. Toledo opened the second half trying to make a game of it, but the Falcons wouldn’t allow it. As they continued to pile the points on their bitter rival just 30 minutes north of them, we sat just behind the Toledo bench watching the frustration mount. Soon, the equipment manager for the Rockets unloaded a large case and placed it safely behind the benches. He reached in and pulled out the Peace Pipe trophy, so that the Bowling Green players can rush over and steal the prize. Sure enough, on the final knee of the game, a wave of brown and orange stormed over and invaded the Toledo sideline. They hoisted the trophy as though it were a Grammy award.
Being a lower echelon Division One venue, security measures were hardly a concern and fans were actually invited onto the field to celebrate with the players. The team said a prayer midfield and then ran over to the band to sing the alma mater. Afterward, fans tossed footballs on the field, grabbed pictures with the mascot and players, and high-fived their heroes. While Toledo heads home to stew over this loss for another year, the Falcons are headed to the International Bowl ending a memorable season for their program.