Bowling Green (1-0) at Kent State (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 7, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dix Stadium (25,319) -- Kent, Ohio. Television: ESPN Regional. Home Record: BGSU 1-0, KSU 1-0. Away Record: BGSU 0-0, KSU 0-0. Neutral Record: BGSU 0-0, KSU 0-0. Conference Record: BGSU 0-0, KSU 0-0. Series Record: Bowling Green leads, 55-19-6.
GAME NOTES: Two of the top teams in the East Division will begin Mid-American Conference play as the Bowling Green Falcons collide with the Kent State Golden Flashes at Dix Stadium.
Bowling Green began its season with a lopsided, 34-7 victory over Tulsa, the defending Conference USA champion. The Falcons returned nine starters on both sides of the ball from the 2012 unit that finished 6-2 in MAC play. Coach Dave Clawson has led the team to a bowl game in two of his five seasons at the school. BGSU is just 1-3 in road openers under Clawson, although two of those setbacks came against ranked foes.
Kent State extended its regular season winning streak to 11 games with a 17-10 victory over Liberty last week. It was the first game under coach Paul Haynes, who will also be trying to keep the program's 12-game winning streak against conference opponents alive. Haynes became the first Kent State head coach to win his debut since 1988.
Although BGSU holds a 55-19-6 lead in its all-time series with Kent State, it will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak in the rivalry. The Golden Flashes earned a 31-24 win in last November's meeting.
The question of whether or not BGSU's offense would survive without Anthon Samuel was quickly answered as it racked up 233 yards on the ground, as William Houston rushed for three touchdowns. Sophomore tailback Travis Greene was the primary ball carrier with 88 yards on 22 carries.
It didn't take long for Clawson to make a change to the starting lineup. BGSU made a quarterback change early on, replacing Matt Schilz in favor of Matt Johnson, who went 11-of-23 for 151 yards with an interception. Johnson's scrambling ability also led to 50 rushing yards. Schilz will most likely see his streak of 33 consecutive starts end this Saturday.
BGSU displayed excellence on the defensive side of the ball last season, finishing in the top 10 in the nation in both total defense (296.6 ypg) and scoring defense (16.8 ppg). The Falcons were relentless against the Golden Hurricane, who finished with just 12 first downs, 51 yards rushing and 273 yards of total offense in the outing.
BooBoo Gates tied for the team-high with seven total tackles while also forcing and recovering a fumble. BGSU had 15 different players record at least two stops.
KSU had one of the most dynamic rushing attacks in the nation with Dri Archer and Trayion Durham sharing the workload last season. The duo combined for 2,745 yards and 30 touchdowns during the Golden Flashes' run to the MAC Championship. Archer, who was being promoted as a Heisman Trophy candidate by the school, injured his ankle early in the opener against Liberty and did not return. He is questionable to play on Saturday.
The offense sputtered with Archer out and KSU fell behind 10-0. Durham picked up the slack to tally 92 yards on 21 attempts and redshirt freshman Colin Reardon went 21-of-28 passing for 194 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which came with just 4:28 left to play. The rookie signal caller was not picked off or sacked and also ran for 38 yards.
Junior wideout Chris Humphrey was the recipient of the late touchdown pass and finished with 88 yards on six receptions. Junior tight end Casey Pierce made his first career touchdown grab.
KSU avoided a loss to an FCS program in week one primarily due to a strong defensive effort. The Golden Flashes limited Liberty to just 222 yards of total offense in the contest and only 33 of them came on the ground. Sophomore linebacker Matt Dellinger had a breakout performance with 11 tackles. Senior lineman Roosevelt Nix had a quiet game, but he is still second among active FBS players in career tackles for loss (52.0), fifth in forced fumbles (10) and 14th in sacks (20.5).
KSU has won nine in a row at home heading into this one. Reardon will need to play like a seasoned veteran against a very tough Falcons' defense to give KSU a chance. The Golden Flashes are much less explosive without Archer, whose absence may be too much to overcome.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 21, Kent State 13
09/04 10:38:17 ET