FACTS & STATS: Site: Peden Stadium (24,000) — Athens, Ohio. Television: None.
Home Record: Bowling Green 3-0, Ohio 2-0. Away Record: Bowling Green 1-2, Ohio
1-3. Neutral Record: Bowling Green 0-0, Ohio 0-0. Conference Record: Bowling
Green 2-0, Ohio 1-1. Series Record: Bowling Green leads, 38-25-2.
GAME NOTES: Despite trailing in the final minutes of last weekend’s contest,
the Bowling Green Falcons were able to score a touchdown with just over two
minutes to play to down Buffalo, and now they’ll hope that their two-game
winning streak won’t come to a close as they travel to face the Ohio Bobcats
in a Mid-American Conference showdown at Peden Stadium Saturday.
Bowling Green has been stellar on the offensive side of the football in the
team’s last two games, despite not having starting quarterback Matt Johnson
for the remainder of the season. The Falcons have scored 47 and 36 points,
respectively, in their last two MAC matchups.
Ohio seemed helpless last weekend in the team’s loss to Central Michigan,
28-10. The Chippewas had their top playmakers back from injury, which proved
to be the difference in the Bobcats’ road loss.
This conference and intrastate rivalry runs rich with history. Bowling Green
leads the all-time series over Ohio, 38-25-2, which includes a thrashing in
the most recent meeting. The Falcons took down the Bobcats, 49-0, last season
at Bowling Green.
Although Johnson was projected to be a top player in the MAC this season, and
losing him was a devastating blow to the Falcons’ roster, quarterback James
Knapke has proven that he can not just hold the reins, but use them to direct
his team since taking over. In the win over Buffalo last weekend, Knapke
passed for 321 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and added a rushing
score to help lift his team to the late-game victory.
Bowling Green is averaging 319.3 passing ypg this season with Knapke’s help,
and is scoring 37.3 ppg through six games played. Knapke has played all six
contests, and has thrown for 1,559 yards with eight touchdowns and seven
interceptions with a 60.4 completion percentage and a 122.8 quarterback
efficiency rating. He’s found top wideout Ronnie Moore (four touchdown
receptions) more than anybody. The duo hooked up nine times for 178 yards and
a score against Buffalo.
Running back Travis Greene, who was a preseason All-MAC selection, has lived
up to his hype, having rushed for 540 yards and seven touchdowns through six
games. He’s been spelled at times by Fred Coppet, who has five rushing scores
(including the game-winner last weekend) this season. As a unit, the Falcons
are rushing for 182.2 ypg, and have scored 17 times.
In Bowling Green’s two losses this season, the defense has been the thing
holding the team back. Granted one of those losses was to nationally ranked
Wisconsin, but the Badgers were still able to put up 68 points in the contest.
And Western Kentucky, a former MAC program, scored 59 in the opening week of
the season. The Falcons are surrendering 42.2 ppg and a dismal 578.3 offensive
ypg to opponents.
Linebacker Gabe Martin is second on the team in total tackles (47), but is
first on the squad with six tackles for loss. James Sanford (two sacks) and
Bryan Thomas (3.5 sacks) have been bothering opposing quarterbacks all season,
while Nick Johnson (two interceptions) leads the team in picks. As the team
continues into conference play, the scoring numbers will start to decrease a
bit for Bowling Green’s opposition.
Offense was tough to come by in Ohio’s loss to Central Michigan on the road
last weekend. The Bobcats racked up just nine first downs in the contest and
could manage only 197 total offensive yards in the losing effort. Quarterback
J.D. Sprague, who has earned without Derrius Vick in the lineup, completed
just 33 percent of his passes in the game, and threw for 103 yards.
Sprague’s completion percentage in five games played sits at 49.5. The
redshirt sophomore from Cincinnati has just one touchdown pass with two
interceptions this season, compared to four for Vick, who has played in four
games. Sebastian Smith (12 catches, 156 yards) and Landon Smith (16 catches,
150 yards) each have a pair of touchdowns to lead the team, which averages 19
ppg and 189.3 yards through the air.
The Ohio offense was anemic without A.J. Ouellette at running back last
weekend, accounting for just 94 yards on the ground. In five games, Ouellette
has rushed for 288 yards and four touchdowns. Against CMU, Daz’mond Patterson
led the rushing attack with 82 yards on 12 carries. This season, Ohio has
scored eight times on the ground and averages 163.3 rushing ypg.
With a less-than-reliable offense, the Bobcats won’t be able to do much damage
in conference play. The defense has done its part so far, having limited
opponents to 24.8 ppg and has forced five turnovers through six games. But the
team’s 453.2 surrendered ypg isn’t exactly pretty.
Quentin Poling leads the team with 3.5 sacks and three interceptions this
season, while Jovon Johnson has a team-high six tackles for loss. Poling is
the team leader with 47 total stops, and will need to be extremely active
against Greene and Moore for Bowling Green. The Falcons have a very up-tempo
style of offense, and can accumulate points quickly. Defensive backs Devin
Bass and Josh Kristoff will have to keep their eyes open for any of Knapke’s
Even without Johnson and receiver Chris Gallon, the Bowling Green offense is
doing exactly what many had expected prior to the start of the 2014 season.
Even though the Falcons will be on the road, it just seems like too tall of an
order for the Bobcats to keep pace with an offense that is averaging just shy
of 40 points per outing.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 35, Ohio 20