1. The Stakes. Bowling Green’s East Division title hopes were extinguished with last Saturday’s 31-24 loss to Kent State but the Falcons are already bowl-eligible and can achieve eight wins for the first time since 2007 with a victory today. Last week’s loss broke a six-game winning streak, the program’s longest since 2004 . . . UB enters having won three straight, the longest run since the 2008 title team rattled off five in a row. The Bulls are coming off a 29-19 victory at UMass, the program’s first road victory since October of 2010.
2. For Comparison’s Sake. UB junior linebacker Khalil Mack and BG senior defensive tackle Chris Jones won’t go head to head but will be staging a battle within the battle today. They’re two of the top candidates for MAC Player of the Year and both good bets to end up on NFL rosters. Jones, 6-foot-1 and a tad under 300 pounds, ranks fourth nationally in sacks (11.5) and tackles for loss (17). Three times this season he’s been named MAC East Defensive Player of the Week and it’ll be vital to limit his effectiveness if UB’s going to have success throwing the mid-range and deep ball. Mack is coming off a monster 15-tackle game against UMass during which he became UB’s career leading in tackles for loss. He has 18.5 on the season to go with eight sacks and leads the Bulls in tackles with 84,
3. Battle of Wills. These are two of the top defenses in the MAC. BG is allowing a hair less than 30 percent third-down conversions, tops in the conference. UB is third at 36.9 percent. The Falcons are yielding 15.2 first downs a game, again tops in the conference. UB is second at 19.2 UB ranks first in sacks, BG third. BG’s first in pass defense, UB second. Add it all up and the Falcons lead the MAC in total defense, permitting a scant 298 yards per game. The Bulls are second at 368.5. Sophomore linebacker Gabe Martin leads the Falcons with 65 tackles andis second to Jones in tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (4.5). The Bulls’s disruptive forces include ends Steven Means, (8.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks) and Colby Way (10.5, 7.0) and linebacker Lee Skinner (7.5, 5.0).
4. Limitations. UB made due with its backup RBs against UMass but it’ll be a far more difficult task today if neither Bo Oliver nor Devin Campbell. If the Falcons shut down the run then for the first time in his four starts QB Joe Licata will find most of the burden on his shoulders. Licata’s been solid, has shown strong field presence and vision and has brought more receivers into the mix. ... Like a healthy UB, BG has a sound offensive balance. JR QB Matt Schilz is completing 55.7 percent for 2,198 yards and came upon a dynamic new weapon last week in freshman Chris Gallon (10-213-2). SO RB Anthon Samuel needs 30 yards to top 1,000 and averages 5.5 a carry.
5. Extra Points Last year’s 42-28 win at UB gave BG a 6-3 advantage in the all-time series … Falcons coached by former Lew-Port QB Dave Clawson … This will be the first football game played at Columbus Crew Stadium, a soccer facility … BG all-MAC punter Brian Schmiedebusch averaging 42.4. … UB’s 34 sacks the most in D-IA era by 12 … Alex Neutz 77 yards from 1,000 receiving … BG went six games without allowing more than 14 points until Kent game.
Outlook: Banged up RBs could put Bulls in tough spot. Bowling Green, 20-14.