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October 11, 2013

Know the Foe: Bowling Green

Mississippi State is coming off a loss to LSU at home 59-26. The Bulldogs look to bounce back with a homecoming night game against Bowling Green a program where Dan Mullen got his start in FBS football.

Who: Bowling Green (5-1) vs. Mississippi State (2-3)
Where: Starkville, Miss.; Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field
When: Saturday, October 12; 6:30 p.m CT on Fox Sports South
Series Record: First meeting: MSU is having their first meeting in school history with a MAC opponent.

About the Falcons

Bowling Green enters Saturday's contest 5-1 on the season but against a less than stellar schedule. The Falcons have beaten Tulsa, Kent State, Murray State, Akron and UMASS but their only BCS opponent was Indiana in which they fell 42-10. Still, that is no fault to the Falcons who should be the favorite moving forward in their conference. A program that isn't afraid to schedule bigger programs, BGSU holds a record of 4-6 against SEC opponents defeating Missouri three times and Kentucky.

The Falcons have started 5-1 for the first time since 2003 and are 3-0 in the MAC starting off the season as well as they expected. They will be a tough out for any team the rest of the way.

The Coaching:

BGSU is led by coach Dave Clawson who has been at the helm the same amount of time as Mullen has at MSU. Clawson took over in 2009 and immediately got the Falcons to a bowl game. He then had consecutive losing seasons before getting them to eight wins last year at 8-5.

Clawson's teams have improved each year since he had to start rebuilding in 2010. In large part, the improvement has been because the coach has kept his coordinators on staff for his entire tenure. Warren Ruggiero (offensive coordinator), Mike Elko (defensive coordinator) and Adam Scheier (special teams) have stayed with Clawson each of the five years thus far.


The Offense: MACtion has become a hot term among college football fans over the course of a few years as the MAC has been widely known for its offensive prowess. There is no exception with Bowling Green who basically kept the principles that Urban Meyer and Mullen used when they were at the school 12 seasons ago. The balanced attack is similar to what MSU runs every week and it will actually be a relief for Geoff Collins to face a familiar offense after planning for what LSU brought to the table last week.

Offensively the Falcons are a veteran group returning eight starters from last season. Quarterbacking the unit will be Matt Johnson a sophomore who took over for long-time passer Matt Schilz who is now the backup. Similar to MSU, BGSU has a prolific passer in their pocket on the sidelines. Shilz is fifth in career with 50 touchdowns and is third in completions and yardage. Johnson leads the way with 103-for-158 passing for 1,395 yards and nine touchdowns with three interceptions. He's taken hold of the starting spot and has even rushed for 164 yards and another touchdown. Most importantly, the sophomore has connected on 65.2 percent of his passes.

He has two primary targets catching the football with Shaun Joplin hauling in 25 passes for 413 yards and a touchdown averaging 16.5 yards per catch. Chris Gallon isn't far behind pulling in 24 passes for 232 yards himself and two touchdowns. After those two, it gets balanced with two more receivers over. They have a total of six pass catchers with over 100 yards receiving and eight have caught a touchdown pass. True freshman Ronnie Moore is an explosive play maker and the future of the team. He's caught 11 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

To balance out the strong passing game is Travis Greene at running back that has torn it up in the first six games. The sophomore standout has already been awarded the player of the week in the conference this year and is on pace for nearly 1,500 yards rushing. He's averaging six yards a carry in his 120 rushes for 711 yards and three touchdowns. Moore has made an impact on the ground for the Falcons as well rushing eight times for 80 yards this year and giving them another weapon in the running game. The team will use backup running back William Houston in short yardage situations. The freshman walk on has been the go-to guy around the goal line rushing 30 times on the season for just 80 yards but a team-leading seven touchdowns.


Defense: Bowling Green is coming off a big defensive season where they ranked sixth in the country in total defense, 12th in rushing defense and 10th in scoring. There hasn't been much of a drop off this year either as the Falcons rank 29th in total defense giving up 344 yards a game and 15th in scoring defense at 16.5 points per game. However, rushing defense has taken a slip giving up 150 yards a game and sitting 56th in the country.

In the past two seasons, Bowling Green has been successful when they've stopped the running game. In all eight wins last season, they didn't give up over 100 yards rushing. A problem this year is that they've already given up over 100 yards on the ground four times. The team is led in tackles by junior linebacker D.J. Lynch with 35 who has a sack and 4.0 tackles for loss. "BooBoo" Gates is second on the team in tackles with 33 which is probably a sign that the Falcons give up yardage into the secondary and he could be the last line of defense.

Turnovers have been hard to come by for this defense as they have recovered five fumbles but have forced just one interception. They give up just over 190 yards a game passing and have had some good pressure with nine sacks and a total of 37 tackles for loss.


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