Bowling Green (5-3) at Akron (4-4) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: InfoCision Stadium (30,000) — Akron, Ohio.
Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: Bowling Green 3-1, Akron 3-1. Away Record:
Bowling Green 2-2, Akron 1-3. Neutral Record: Bowling Green 0-0, Akron 0-0.
Conference Record: Bowling Green 3-1, Akron 2-2. Series Record: Bowling Green
leads, 13-7.

GAME NOTES: The Bowling Green Falcons will take the field for the first time
in several weeks as they hit the road to face the Akron Zips in a Mid-American
Conference bout at InfoCision Stadium Saturday.

The Falcons haven’t played a game since Oct. 18, which they lost to Western
Michigan, 26-14. The defeat at the hands of the Broncos snapped a three-game
win streak for Bowling Green, and handed the Falcons their first conference
loss of the season.

Akron had also won three games in a row prior to their Oct. 18 game against
Ohio. But a 23-20 loss to the Bobcats and then a 35-21 defeat at the hands of
Ball State on Oct. 25 set the Zips back to 2-2 in MAC play. They’re looking to
end the two-game skid with a win at home, where they are 3-1 this season.

This meeting will be the 21st in the all-time series between Bowling Green and
Akron. The Falcons hold the 13-7 edge over the Zips, including the most recent
contest back in 2013.

This season, the Falcons have typically been terrorizing opponents with a
strong offensive assault. Bowling Green averages 33.6 ppg and nearly 290 ypg
through the passing attack. But against Western Michigan, the Falcons went
cold offensively, and could only manage 274 offensive yards and 14 first
downs. A normally very adept running game turned sour, as Travis Greene
carried the ball 14 times for just 46 yards (3.3 ypc).

Greene was slated in the preseason to be an All-MAC running back, and he’s
generally lived up to the hype, rushing for 636 yards and eight touchdowns in
eight games played. He averages 79.5 rushing ypg and exactly 5.0 ypc. As a
team, the Falcons are gaining 165.4 ypg on the ground, and have scored 21
times via the rushing attack. After a dismal performance in the team’s last
outing and plenty of time to rest, Greene and the rest of the backs will be
looking to return to form against Akron.

Quarterback James Knapke has proven to be a more than viable replacement for
regular starter Matt Johnson, who went down in the very first game of the
season with an injury and was ruled out for the remainder of 2014 not too long
after. Knapke has played in all eight games since, passing for 1,958 yards, 10
touchdowns and has a 59.3 completion percentage. He does need to cut back on
the turnovers, having tossed nine interceptions. Roger Lewis, Ronnie Moore and
Ryan Burbrink have combined to catch 10 of the team’s 11 total touchdown
passes this season.

Part of the reason Bowling Green wasn’t able to control Western Michigan
several weeks ago was because of WMU star freshman back Jarvion Franklin, who
carried the ball 37 times for 149 yards and a touchdown. Akron doesn’t have
anyone on its team that can come close to matching the production of Franklin,
so the Falcons will instead have to focus more on the passing game. That could
be an issue, as Bowling Green allows an average of 328 passing ypg.

It shouldn’t be too hard holding Akron below 30 points, considering the Zips
have only scored 30 or more twice all season, and once was against FCS
opponent Howard. Bowling Green’s 36.5 ppg allowed stat is pretty high, but the
team has played some decent offensive competition this year. Trust that
linebacker Gabe Martin (71 tackles, nine tackles for loss) will keep the Akron
run game in check, and that Nick Johnson (two interceptions) and Darrell
Hunter (six pass breakups) will be able to slow the passing game.

After missing the last two games (in which the Zips lost both), regular
starting quarterback Kyle Pohl should be under center against Bowling Green.
Pohl has been the steady force at quarterback through most of the season, but
missed several games due to injury, which led to redshirt freshman Thomas
Woodson getting the start. In his most recent outing against Ball State, the
rookie quarterback passed for 200 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions.

Now that Pohl is back under center, he can calm an offense that is averaging
22.9 ppg and 382.8 offensive ypg. In six games played, Pohl has passed for
1,289 yards and seven touchdowns against three interceptions. Woodson had one
more than that in his last game alone. His stats aren’t especially flashy, but
Pohl has proven to be a simple game manager this season.

The running game needs to step up a bit if it wants to get past Bowling Green.
The Zips are averaging 125 ypg on the ground, and have scored 11 touchdowns
via the rush in eight games played. Conor Hundley has a team-high 407 rushing
yards, while he, Jawon Chisholm and Cody Grice are all tied with three rushing
touchdowns apiece.

Akron has relied plenty on its defense this season to get the job done,
especially when the offense can typically only manage about 23 points save for
some rare exceptions. The defense is holding opponents to 360.4 offensive ypg
allowed, including 134.4 rushing ypg. The best statistic for the Zips is the
20.2 ppg allowed, which, if applied against Bowling Green, would mean great
things for Akron. But it won’t be easy containing one of the stronger offenses
in the MAC.

Linebacker Jatavis Brown has a team-best 62 tackles and four sacks, so he’ll
be looking to get after Knapke going against an offensive line that has only
allowed 10 sacks to opponents this season. Defensive lineman Nordly Capi also
has four sacks, while Nmesoma Okafor has 3.5 sacks. Defensive backs Bre’ Ford
and Kris Givens each have two interceptions this year, and they’ll be looking
to force Knapke into making more mistakes with the ball.

All of this time off for Bowling Green has definitely helped the Falcons heal
some of the more minor injuries, but it may also have hurt the team, not
seeing game action for multiple weeks. But after the one-sided loss to Western
Michigan, perhaps a break was exactly what Greene and the rest of the team
needed. Going to Akron won’t be easy, especially with Pohl back under center
for the Zips, but Bowling Green’s offense is simply too strong.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 28, Akron 21