2015-16 Football Previews – (MAC) – Falcons
Bowling Green may hail from a quaint, northern Ohio town lying just off I-75, but its offense is anything but.
NCAA Football Gambling Lines
MAC Conference Odds
Head Coach: Dino Babers
2014 Record: 8-6
Bowling Green Odds to win 2015 MAC Championship: +475
BCS Odds from Bovada – +1000
When head coach Dino Babers arrived on campus, the expectation was for a fast-paced, high-scoring attack. While the Falcons definitely picked up the pace last year (their 18.6 seconds between plays last year was fifth-fastest in the entire country) the scoring could catch up this year, with an added year of seasoning.
Bowling Green was working a lot of youth through the program in 2014, the added experience should buttress the talent that was already there – particularly on offense – and bear fruit in the near future.
The Falcons aren’t without some questions and with a tricky schedule that includes Tennessee, Maryland and Purdue, 2015 won’t just be a cakewalk for BGSU. Let’s examine the particulars: the team strengths and weaknesses of the 2015 Bowling Green Falcons.
Bowling Green has a high-octane, talented offense that should dump points on opponents. It starts with senior QB Matt Johnson, who started 13 games two years ago, but suffered a season-ending injury right from the start in ’14. His backup is simply the Camellia Bowl MVP from last year, junior James Knapke.
Johnson should start – he had tons of promise as an underclassman – but whoever it is under center for the Falcons, they should enjoy good quarterbacking.
Bowling Green returns its top four WRs, including Roger Lewis, who had an amazing freshman campaign with 73 receptions, 1,093 yards and seven TDs. If it’s not Lewis grabbing the ball, senior Ryan Burbrink and junior Ronnie Moore also have ability.
Senior OG Alex Huettel is the star of the offensive line, at a school which has a reputation for producing pro O-lineman (Scott Mruczkowski, Kory Lichtensteiger).
In total, it should be a dangerous offense, probably the best in the conference.
The special teams will be just fine, led by senior K Tyler Tate, the best in the MAC. Punter Joe Davidson also has a booming leg, evidenced by his 14 punts that went 50 or more yards last season.
It seems basic to say that offense is a strength and defense is a weakness, end of story, but it is not far off the mark. Perhaps the “D” is not without talent, but defensive co-ordinator Brian Ward is looking for new replacements to step up.
Seven starters are gone from a unit that allowed nearly 500 yards of offense per game. If anyone on the roster showcases playmaking ability, they will likely get a crack at a starting job. The most experience on the unit goes to LB James Sanford (72 tackles in ’14) and CB Darrell Hunter, who made eight starts.
Bowling Green needs to develop more of a pass rush, and it’s unclear whether that can come from incumbents Bryan Thomas and DT Gus Schwieterman. Sanford and Schwieterman each had 2.5 sacks last year – that’s not cutting the mustard.
If some impact players don’t emerge on defense, the Falcons will be forced to win a lot of barn-burners.
2015-16 Bowling Green Falcons Prediction: 8-5
The Falcons have three straight seasons with at least eight wins, and I see that trend continuing. The offense is very dynamic and should overwhelm most in-conference opponents. Due to a tough schedule, though, the Falcons might start the season 0-4. If Bowling Green can achieve a .500 record going into Week 5 at Buffalo, they should count themselves successful. Of those four tricky first contests, three of them are on the road.
2015 Falcons Schedule (All times EST)
9/5/15 4:00 PM TENN (in Nashville, TN)
9/12/15 NOON @MARY
9/19/15 3:00 PM MEM
9/26/15 TBD @ PUR
10/3/15 3:30 PM @BUFF
10/10/15 TBD UMASS
10/17/15 3:00 PM AKRON
10/24/15 TBD @KENT ST.
11/4/15 8:00 PM OHIO
11/11/15 8:00 PM @WMU
11/17/15 TBD TOL
11/24/15 6:00 PM @BALL ST.
12/4/15 MAC CHAMP (in Detroit, MI)
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