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The Bowling Green Falcons football team is the intercollegiate footballs team of Bowling Green State University. The team is a member 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 eleven MAC conference championships and four national championships - as voted by the UPI in 1928, 1948, 1956, and 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.
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.