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CFB – GMAC Bowl – Bowling Green vs. Tulsa (8:00 PM ET – ESPN)
Jan. 6 — GMAC Bowl Preview Mobile, Ala., Tulsa (9-4) vs. Bowling Green (8-4), 8 p.m. (ESPN)
With a total set at 76, there figures to be no shortage of offense at the GMAC Bowl when Bowling Green and Tulsa go head-to-head. Kickoff for the second last game of the college football season is set for 8:00 PM ET on ESPN Sunday night.
The Falcons finished the season at 8-4, rallying for SU & ATS wins in their last four games, although none of those came over teams with a winning record. They were outscored by an 83-41 margin against bowl teams in two games.
The Golden Hurricane averaged 39.5 PPG and were an offensive machine, with QB Paul Smith leading the way, throwing for over 300 yards in all 13 games. They finished 9-4 SU, but just 4-9 ATS after yielding 35.4 PPG and 470.9 YPG. For BGSU, this is the third bowl appearance in the L5 seasons, they are 2-0 SU & 1-1 ATS, including a win over Memphis in this game in ’04. Tulsa beat BYU early in ’07, but was 1-3 SU & ATS vs. other bowl teams.
Bowling Green’s third bowl invite over the past five years will be laced with offense and heavily seasoned with passing. Sophomore QB Tyler Sheehan completed 63.2% of his pass attempts this season for a whopping 3,123 yards (16th among all FCS programs) and 23 TDs matched by just 11 interceptions.
His favorite target, sophomore Freddie Barnes, caught 77 of those passes for 891 yards, nine going for scores. The result is a passing offense that ranks 19th in the nation. However, the overall offensive efforts lacks a bit due to a poor rushing game, ranking 44th among FCS programs with 416.92 total yards per game.
Junior QB Anthony Turner actually led the team in rushing, averaging 5.0 yards per carry but gaining just 101 carries for 501 total rushing yards. With that said, Turner gathered nine rushing TDs and provided Bowling Green their best opportunity to shine in the ground game.
On defense, things don’t look as good. The Falcons are giving up 413 yards per game (78th in the nation) and have concerns about their abilities to grow that effort for the bowl. Injury concerns linger for junior LB John Haneline, the team’s leading tackler battling strained ligaments in his foot. If he is out, there are problems.
With the second-most productive QB on the college football planet in tow, fans might guess Tulsa comes forth as an unoriginal force of lopsided offense. That is not the case.
Yes, senior QB Paul Smith is having an outstanding campaign, completing 60% of his passes for 4,753 yards (only Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell has more) and an astounding 42 TDs versus just 19 interceptions, giving Tulsa the 3rd-ranked passing offense in the land. However, junior RB Tarrion Adams is not to be outdone, averaging 5.5 yards per carry for 1,113 yards.
Match an additional 244 yards earned via the reception and it is fair to rank Tulsa as an offensive juggernaut. The defense has been atrocious, allowing an average of 469 yards per game (111th among 119 FCS programs). This group is especially vulnerable to the rush, giving up 195.9 rushing yards per game (97th in the nation). This team is built on offense, thrives on offense, and needs offense to compete. Otherwise, anything is possible.
This will be, if nothing else, an exciting testament to the rise of the passing offense in college football. These two QBs account for so much offense for their respective teams, it would be hard to imagine those trends don’t continue into the postseason. Smith is going to be gunning for the gold. A talented field general with a rocket for an arm, the stage to show and prove in a pressure situation is difficult to find for Tulsa during the season.
If he can solidify a victory for his team, built on the prolific passing offense he provides, Smith could be announcing his arrival as a player to covet in the mid-to-later rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft.
Of course, you might say the same about Sheenan as he looks to embark on a prodigious collegiate career. He has all the talented needed to shine and has a great opportunity to prove as much in a strong bowl appearance.
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