Massachusetts (0-4) at Bowling Green (4-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 5, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Doyt Perry Stadium (24,000) -- Bowling Green, Ohio. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: UMass 0-2, BGSU 3-0. Away Record: UMass 0-2, BGSU 1-1. Neutral Record: UMass 0-0, BGSU 0-0. Conference Record: UMass 0-0, BGSU 2-0. Series Record: Bowling Green leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Massachusetts will begin its Mid-American Conference season on Saturday when the Minutemen travel to Doyt Perry Stadium to try to upset the Bowling Green Falcons.
Following an open week, the Minutemen enter their second MAC opener with an 0-4 record. UMass began its 2013 campaign with a 45-0 loss at Wisconsin and dropped a 24-14 decision to FCS opponent Maine at home in week two. The team lost at Kansas State (37-7) and versus Vanderbilt (24-7) in the two weeks prior to its bye. Coach Charley Molnar's 1-15 career record looks like it is going to get worse before it gets better.
While the visitors have struggled in the early season, Dave Clawson's Falcons have played strong enough to indicate they intend on making a run at the 2013 MAC Championship. Bowling Green began its season with a 34-7 rout of Tulsa and a 41-22 win at Kent State in its league opener. After falling to the Hoosiers at Indiana (42-10), the Falcons started a new winning streak with lopsided triumphs over Murray State (48-7) and Akron (31-14). BGSU is the only team in the East Division with a 2-0 league record.
This will be only the second meeting in history between these schools. Bowling Green shut out the Minutemen, 24-0, on the road last season. UMass went 1-7 last year in its first tour of the MAC.
The Minutemen are without question one of the worst offensive teams in the nation with averages of 258.5 yards of total offense and seven points per outing. A.J. Doyle wrestled away the starting quarterback job from last season's starter Mike Wegzyn in recent weeks. Doyle went 20-of-28 for 133 yards and a touchdown versus Vanderbilt in the team's last outing. He also paced the team on the ground with only 29 yards. Stacey Bedell has been the lead runner on the season with 221 yards and a score on 63 carries. The Minutemen produced just 99 rushing yards on 31 attempts and only 149 yards through the air.
Tajee Sharp and Rob Branchflower finished with seven receptions each. Sharpe scored the team's only touchdown and tallied a team-best 45 receiving yards, just three more than Branchflower, who was making his season debut.
The Minutemen have performed poorly on defense as well, giving up 32.5 ppg and 493.5 ypg. Ed Saint-Vil has been all over the field this season en route to a team-best 38 tackles. UMass switched to a new 4-3 defensive scheme for its matchup versus Vandy. The result was a season-low 406 yards of total offense allowed.
Bowling Green was better known for its stifling defense last season. The Falcons have developed into a very balanced team as its offense has caught up. They are netting 487.4 yards of total offense and 32.8 points per game thanks to a pair of rising stars in Matt Johnson and Travis Greene.
Johnson earned the starting job after igniting the offense off the bench in the season opener. The redshirt sophomore was named the MAC East Offensive Player of the Week after he went 19-of-25 for 357 yards and two touchdowns in his first start of the season. He his ranked second in the MAC in passing average (245.8 ypg) and has completed a league-best 66.7 percent of his attempts with six touchdowns to have as many interceptions. Shaun Joplin is the primary weapon in the passing attack. The senior wide receiver has made 23 receptions for 388 yards through five games.
Redshirt sophomore Travis Greene is having a breakout season as the tailback position. Greene led the way in the team's come from behind win over Akron as he compiled 142 rushing yards on 24 attempts and 71 receiving yards on four catches, with two total touchdowns. The Falcons' newest workhorse ranks second in the MAC and 20th in the country with 110.2 yards rushing per game. Freshman running back William Houston has also been a factor.
The Falcons managed to keep their defense at a very high level while bolstering the offense. They lead the MAC in nine different team statistical categories, including scoring defense (18.4 ppg), total defense (356.8 ypg) and red zone defense at 47.1, which ranks second nationally. Senior defensive back Aaron Foster led the way last week with ten tackles, including one of the team's three tackles for loss. BGSU has room for improvement as it has yet to intercept a pass this season.
UMass is going to be overmatched on both sides of the ball when it visits Doyt Perry Stadium. The program will take its share of bumps until it fully settles into its FBS membership. The Falcons managed to shut out the Minutemen on the road when these schools faced off a season ago. UMass could be held scoreless by BGSU in back-to-back games if it fails to make any adjustments on offense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 31, Massachusetts 6
10/02 10:33:50 ET