When Bowling Green State University football opens its season at UCLA, senior quarterback Matt McDonald will be able to say every football-playing member of his family has played in the Rose Bowl Stadium.
McDonald is looking forward to the season opener in the stadium that has hosted “The Granddaddy of Them All”, the Rose Bowl football game, since 1902.
The Falcons and Bruins will tangle on Sept. 3 with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network. McDonald’s excitement is shared by BGSU coach Scot Loeffler and his teammates.
“Being a Big Ten guy there is no greater place in the United States to play but in the Rose Bowl,” Loeffler said. “I love it. I think the kids are going to have a great experience.
“Now with Matt playing every McDonald has played in the Rose Bowl, so it is going to be a neat experience for our kids,” Loeffler continued.
“It’s a really great football team — (UCLA coach) Chip (Kelly) does a really great job. We have to go out there and play our very best and find a way to sneak one past them.”
McDonald’s father, Paul McDonald, was a standout quarterback at USC, finishing his collegiate career 22-1-1 and holding the NCAA mark for the lowest interception percentage in a career at 2.3% (13 interceptions in 561 attempts).
With Paul McDonald calling the signals, the 1980 Trojans won a national championship with a 17-16 victory over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
Two of Matt’s brothers played quarterback in college football, including Mike, who was a third string QB for USC during the 2005 season.
For Matt, who hails from Newport Beach, California and is the youngest of Paul and Allyson McDonald’s four children, nothing could be better than beginning his final season on the Rose Bowl stage.
“It’s the grandaddy of them all. I’m excited,” Matt said. “I’ve always dreamed of playing in that stadium.
“I took a little different route to get there, but nonetheless I’m excited to be playing in that stadium.”
Accolades keep coming
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound McDonald continues to get accolades before the season even begins.
McDonald and BGSU 6-2, 210-pound wide receiver Austin Osborne have been named to the preseason Wuerffel Trophy Watch List.
The Wuerffel Trophy, known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service,” is presented each February in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel from the University of Florida, the Wuerffel Trophy is awarded to the FBS player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
McDonald led BGSU with 2,555 passing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021, throwing for 200-plus yards in eight of the Falcons’ 12 games last year.
Twice in 2021 McDonald was named MAC East Division’s Offensive Player of the Week. His two rushing touchdowns at Minnesota led BGSU to a 14-10 upset of the Big Ten foe.
McDonald also threw for a career-high 308 yards against South Alabama. McDonald was previously named an AllState AFCA Good Works Team nominee.
Osborne led leading BGSU with 64 receptions with 546 receiving yards and two scores. He appeared in all 12 of BGSU’s games with nine starts after transferring from Washington during the previous summer.
Osborne notched eight receptions in his BGSU debut at Tennessee and recorded multiple catches in all 12 of Bowling Green’s games in 2021. Osborne is also a California native who will likely have family and friends in attendance at the Rose Bowl.
However, their enthusiasm toward playing the season opener at such a historic venue is matched by their teammates, no matter where they are from.
Senior graduate student Davon Ferguson, a 5-10, 190-pound cornerback, hails from Baltimore, Maryland, missed four-plus games due to an injury last season, so he’s mostly pleased just to be back on the gridiron.
When he was on the field last year, he made five tackles and had two sacks in the win at Minnesota and a career-high 17 tackles with 10 solo stops against Northern Illinois.
So, showcasing what he can do, and what his team can do, on one of the biggest stages in the nation is just what the doctor ordered.
“Playing in the Rose Bowl is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Ferguson said.
“Not too many people get to play there, so we’ll just be in awe, ready to soak it in and be ready to go so we can show what BG is really made of.”
Karl Brooks, a 6-4, 300-pound senior from Lansing, Michigan, is an Athlon Sports preseason first-team All-MAC lineman.
Last year, Brooks started all 12 games, finishing the regular season fifth in the MAC with 7½ sacks, including five tackles and a sack at Tennessee and two sacks in each game against Akron and Ohio.
Now he’ll get to showcase his defensive ability on one of the biggest stages of them all.
“We’re very excited. Not too many people can say they played in the Rose Bowl Stadium,” Brooks said.
“We’re going to go there, we are going to be fired up, we are going to be ready to play, but it’s going to be a very exciting, humbling opportunity.”
Loeffler says despite the hype, it is still just another football game. He wants to make sure his team is ready, in every aspect.
“Preparation is everything. That is why this is the greatest sport ever. We are preparing year-round,” Loeffler said.
“If you really do the math, there are about 33 minutes of play on both sides of the ball, and everything matters.
“Showing up to study table on time — it matters. Going to class and doing things the right way — it matters. Hopefully those habits transfer over to the field, and we have a chance to win.”