FACTS & STATS: Site: Doyt Perry Stadium (23,724) — Bowling Green, Ohio.
Television: None. Home Record: Western Michigan 1-1, Bowling Green 3-0. Away
Record: Western Michigan 2-2, Bowling Green 2-2. Neutral Record: Western
Michigan 0-0, Bowling Green 0-0. Conference Record: Western Michigan 1-1,
Bowling Green 3-0. Series Record: Bowling Green leads, 31-17-3.
GAME NOTES: The Bowling Green Falcons have overcome serious injuries to key
players and have won three games in a row. They’ll be the first Mid-American
Conference team to be bowl eligible in 2014 if they can beat the Western
Michigan Broncos Saturday in a conference clash at Doyt Perry Stadium.
Western Michigan has turned this around already this season after a dismal
2013 campaign. The Broncos own a 3-3 record and one of the nation’s top young
running backs. They are coming off a 42-38 victory over Ball State last
weekend, which evened the team’s conference record at 1-1.
Bowling Green has won three games in a row (all in MAC play), and has taken
five of the team’s past six games. With a 31-13 dominant win over Ohio last
weekend, the Falcons have now scored at least 31 points in each of their last
The two MAC teams have met 51 times in their all-time series history, with
Bowling Green owning the 31-17-3 lead. But the Falcons haven’t won the head-
to-head matchup since the 2004 season. Since then, WMU has taken the last
three games and has outscored Bowling Green 131-42 in that span.
Western Michigan has been a deadly team offensively this season, but only has
a 3-3 record to show for its efforts. The Broncos average well over 30 points
per outing, thanks to the dynamic duo of quarterback Zach Terrell and freshman
running back Jarvion Franklin. The team has only scored fewer than 30 points
in a contest twice.
Franklin is the go-to player on the offensive side, so the Falcons will have
to limit him if the team wants to shut down the Broncos’ point production. The
freshman running back gained 161 yards and scored three touchdowns last
weekend against Ball State, and now has an FBS-leading 15 rushing scores this
season. He ranks sixth in the country in rushing yards (843) and sixth in
rushing yards per game (140.5).
Terrell has been effective this season thanks to the help of two strong
receiving outlets. Daniel Braverman has four touchdown catches this season, as
does Corey Davis. Both had touchdown receptions in the last outing against
Ball State. Terrell has thrown for 10 touchdowns this season against just
The team’s defense has been the Achilles’ heel in the six games played, and
nearly gave up the contest against Ball State last weekend. The Cardinals
registered 471 yards of offense has racked up 23 first downs in the loss.
Quarterback Jack Milas attempted 42 passes and threw for four scores in the
losing effort. Bowling Green quarterback James Knapke has been strong in
filling in for Matt Johnson, so the Broncos will have to step up in the back
Justin Currie led the team with 10 tackles last weekend, while cornerback
Ronald Zamort added a team-best three pass breakups. Zamort has 10 pass
breakups this season to top the team, while he and Donald Celsicar have
totaled two interceptions each to lead the team. Currie and Grant DePalma will
have to keep their eyes on both Knapke and running back Travis Greene, who are
two of the top offensive players in the conference.
Bowling Green got the scoring started early against Ohio last weekend, when
Greene took a 27-yard pass from Knapke to the end zone less than two minutes
into the contest. The Bobcats had a strong showing offensively with 513 total
yards, but Ohio simply couldn’t find the end zone. Knapke connected on 20
passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns against one interception.
The Falcons, even without their top quarterback in Johnson and a top receiver
in Chris Gallon, have been able to average 36.4 ppg this season, and pull off
big wins against teams like Indiana, Buffalo and Ohio. Knapke has played in
all seven games filling in for Johnson, and has thrown 10 touchdown passes to
eight interceptions, and has 1,819 passing yards. His top targets in the
receiving corps include Ronnie Moore (four touchdown catches), Roger Lewis
(695 yards) and Ryan Burbrink.
It’s Greene that is the team’s main offensive weapon. The preseason All-MAC
running back has gained 590 yards and scored eight rushing touchdowns on 112
carries this season. He and change-of-pace back Fred Coppet have combined for
13 rushing scores, and as a team the Falcons have punched the ball into the
end zone 19 times in seven games.
In three of the team’s wins this season, the Falcons have only ended up with
the advantage through a single score. Bowling Green defeated Indiana by three
points, UMass by five and Buffalo by one. The team would have several more
convincing wins if the defense was able to limit opponent scoring. The Falcons
protective unit allows 38 ppg and 217.9 rushing ypg, but the defense was
vastly improved against Ohio.
Brian Sutton tops the team with 59 tackles this season, but linebacker Gabe
Martin is right behind with 58 stops and a team high-tying 6.5 tackles for
loss. Defensive lineman Gus Schwieterman (six tackles for loss) will be the
player the Falcons look to for help slowing Franklin out of the Western
Michigan backfield. Darrell Hunter (six pass breakups) and Nick Johnson (two
interceptions) will be spying Braverman and Davis for the Broncos.
Bowling Green has been able to escape with slim wins this season, and has had
the opposite happen against teams like Ohio last weekend. Either way, the
Falcons continue to find ways to win. Western Michigan’s offense is vastly
improved from a year ago, so the Bowling Green defense might have another long
day. But the Falcons will take every lick and respond with a score of their
own. Bowling Green can always find a way to win, especially when bowl
eligibility is on the line.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 41, Western Michigan 35