FACTS & STATS: Site: McGuirk Stadium (17,000) — Amherst, Massachusetts.
Television: None. Home Record: Bowling Green 2-0, Massachusetts 0-2. Away
Record: Bowling Green 0-2, Massachusetts 0-2. Neutral Record: Bowling Green
0-0, Massachusetts 0-0. Conference Record: Bowling Green 0-0, Massachusetts
1-0. Series Record: Bowling Green leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: It’s been a rough start to the season for both the Bowling Green
Falcons and the Massachusetts Minutemen for different reasons, but both teams
will hope for a positive outcome as they square off against each other at
McGuirk Stadium Saturday in a Mid-American Conference bout.
Bowling Green was picked as one of the favorite teams heading into the 2014
MAC campaign, and will kick off conference play following a weekend in which
the Falcons were demolished by Wisconsin, 68-17. Bowling Green has had an
injury bug make its way through the locker room early this season, knocking
out receiver Chris Gallon and quarterback Matt Johnson already.
UMass endured a second straight one-win campaign last season, and is off to
another dismal start after losing the first four non-conference games this
season. The Minutemen are coming off a 48-7 drubbing at the hands of Penn
State, but will hope for better results moving forward into MAC play.
Since UMass was elevated from an FCS program to the FBS just a few years
ago, the Falcons and Minutemen haven’t endured a long-standing history.
Bowling Green owns both wins in the only two meetings between these sides,
which came in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
There was simply no way the Bowling Green offense, minus its starting
quarterback in Johnson, could keep up with the powerhouse of a unit that is
Wisconsin’s starting rotation. The Falcons showed some early promise, however,
trailing the Badgers by just four points (14-10) after the first quarter.
Offensively, BGSU could only muster 11 first downs in the game and 271 total
yards against the now 19th-ranked Badgers. Quarterback James Knapke completed
13 passes for 163 yards, tossed an interception and was sacked three times.
The running game was completely absent against Wisconsin as well, but that
shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The Badgers have a strong defensive
unit, and pulled ahead early forcing the Falcons to throw the ball to play
catch up. Leading rusher Travis Greene had just eight carries in the game for
67 yards, while Andre Givens and Fred Coppet each scored on the ground in the
loss. Roger Lewis led all BGSU receivers in the game with five receptions
and 68 yards.
The Wisconsin game aside, the Falcons have been pretty productive offensively
this season. The unit averages 41.3 ppg, gains an average of 196 rushing ypg
and totals 520.7 ypg. Those are very solid numbers, especially without the
team’s top quarterback.
The team’s defense, however, hasn’t been as inspiring. This season, Bowling
Green is allowing 36 ppg to opponents, and surrenders 412.3 passing ypg and
569.3 combined ypg. In four games played, three teams have scored at least 42
points against the Falcons. The only team that hasn’t scored 42 on BGSU is FCS
program VMI, which lost 48-7 at Bowling Green.
Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon absolutely destroyed the Falcons last
weekend for 253 yards on just 13 carries, adding five rushing touchdowns to
his beefy stat line. Defensive back Dernard Turner registered a team-high
seven tackles for Bowling Green, while Jude Adjei-Barimah had six stops.
Defensive back Brian Sutton leads the team this season with 29 tackles, and
defensive lineman Gus Schwieterman has a team-best four tackles for loss.
The good thing for Bowling Green’s defense is that Massachusetts’ offense is
nothing like Wisconsin’s. The Minutemen were quickly downed against Penn State
last weekend, and could only manage a fourth-quarter touchdown to avoid a
shutout. UMass obtained just 13 first downs in the loss, and had an absolutely
dismal three rushing yards in the entire game.Alex Kenney had just two carries
for UMass, but led the team with 22 yards on the ground. J.T. Blyden, who is
one of the leading rushers on the squad this season, carried the ball 10 times
for 20 yards.
Quarterback Blake Frohnapfel has been steady this season for the Minutemen,
throwing for 882 yards and six touchdowns through four games. He’s also thrown
two interceptions, and has a sub-par 49.6 completion percentage. Against Penn
State, he was solid with 263 passing yards with a touchdown. Unfortunately for
Frohnapfel, he can’t win games alone.
Only two UMass players caught more than one pass in the loss to Penn State –
Marken Michel had six receptions for 104 yards, and Tajae Sharpe hauled in
four passes for 99 yards and a score. The offense averages 233.8 passing ypg
and a horrific 296.5 total ypg, and Frohnapfel accounts for almost all of that
yardage by hooking up with his receivers.
The UMass defense certainly hasn’t done the team any favors this season.
Through four games, the unit is allowing 38.2 ppg and 439.8 combined ypg to
opponents. The team’s season-opening loss to Boston College, 30-7, has proved
to be the fewest number of points the team has surrendered so far, while the
offense has produced just seven points in a game twice.
Linebacker Stanley Andre and defensive back Randall Jette led the team with
eight tackles apiece against Penn State. Andre added two tackles for loss with
one sack in the contest, which was his first sack of the season. Fellow
linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox tops the team with 43 stops, while defensive back
Joe Colton is right behind Andre with 35 tackles. Jette has a team-high two
interceptions so far.
It may not be surprising to see these two teams duke it out in an offensive
showing Saturday, considering the two defenses have been pretty porous so far.
Then again, the two offenses have struggled in certain games. Bowling Green
being on the road might not have much of an effect, and Greene should be able
to bounce back from a tough week at Wisconsin.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 28, Massachusetts 21