1971 - Toledo wins its first MAC championship

In 1971, the Toledo Rockets football team won its first-ever Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship. Coached by Frank Lauterbur, the Rockets finished the regular season with a 9-1 record, including a perfect 7-0 record in MAC play.

The season was highlighted by a thrilling 35-31 victory over rival Bowling Green State University, which secured the MAC championship for Toledo. The Rockets also had notable wins over other conference foes, including Miami (OH) and Western Michigan.

Quarterback Chuck Ealey led the Rockets’ high-powered offense, passing for 1,864 yards and 19 touchdowns, while also rushing for 437 yards and 10 touchdowns. Running back Rick Engles rushed for 881 yards and 11 touchdowns, while wide receiver Barry Allen caught 44 passes for 765 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Rockets went on to play in the Tangerine Bowl against the University of Richmond, but lost the game 49-42. Despite the loss, the 1971 season marked a turning point for the Toledo football program, as they went on to win two more MAC championships in the following two decades.