One of the most entertaining MAC games of the week will take place in Kalamazoo, Michigan this weekend. The upstart Bowling Green Falcons and impressive Western Michigan Broncos have similar offensive identities but much different expectations. WMU is looking to win the MAC West and the whole conference, really, while BG already has as more wins than last year. It was Brown And Gold and myself who gabbed about the matchup:
MS: WMU's last loss to BG was 2004, where they won 52-0. Will we see a repeat of that score?
B&G: I remember 2004. I was at that lone win over Tennessee-Martin. That's all I remember, and probably all I'd want to remember. Wasn't Bowling Green going through their, "We're great, now bow down to us" stage too?
Anyways, I doubt we'll see that score, going either way. Bowling Green is looking decent this year, and Western is looking like a contender. Whichever team wins should get a huge boost in momentum for the rest of the year.
MS: Yeah, neither team's horrible. 2004 was ... well, that was heavenly. The whole early part of that decade, honestly. This is a new-look Falcons. Very little coaching personnel carryover if any. Different AD, even. So any mention of things that haven't happened in five, six years are so much out the window.
I want to say "yeah BG can win this." They can. They probably won't. And yet we saw last week that Temple, as big and bad as they want to be, had a letdown against another talented but depleted opponent. WMU needs to avoid this letdown. They've had a rough schedule stretch between Illinois and UConn and now BG. How are they going to avoid the letdown bug?
B&G: Welcome to Week 3 of Letdown Week here at Western. This is the third straight week I have to worry about a legitimate letdown. Since the Central game, it has been big game after big game after big game. So while I'm worried, I'm not that afraid anymore. I don't think the Broncos will take BG lightly.
MS: They won't but they gave up 291 yards to Dustin Garrison last week, which is the single-game high in FBS this year. Tevin Drake or Brian Fields probably won't go nuclear like that but do you think it's going to be a more run-oriented attack against the Falcons especially considering an improved secondary?
B&G: God, I hope so. I hope we can have an unstoppable balanced attack. It will be interesting because Western is getting back depth on the OL. Last week they were considering un-redshirting a true Freshman. This week, they get back Kevin Gaheler (the usual starting center) and Greg Peterson (guard) from pre-season injuries. I hope this helps Western open up holes for the run game.
Western needs a run game. Maybe not for this week if Schilz is struggling, but to beat Ball State (if they are for real) and Toledo, they need to be multi-dimensional.
MS: Yeah, you'd hope so. 3.2 yards per rush. The O-line returnees can only improve that.
On the other side of that BG has people coming back. Like, half of Wood County. Anthon Samuel and Jordan Hopgood missed last week (although Jamel Martin did just fine) and they're expected to be ready. Slot receiver Eugene Cooper and strong safety Jovan Leacock return from The Great NCAA Paperwork Snafu of 2011. There's hope that left guard Chip Robinson and cornerback Cameron Truss also make an entrance.
And I think both of these teams are very similar: quarterbacks with a lot of great stats (Carder and Matt Schilz) but I don't think either of them can do it alone. And we both know about Jordan White and Kamar Jorden, what they bring, why they're neat and special guys. For BG I'm just waiting, WAITING for Shaun Joplin to have some breakout game on offense. He hasn't scored yet but he will. Who else should the Falcons watch out for on offense besides the obvious?
B&G: And that's why I would not be surprised if Bowling Green pulled the upset.
Anyways, on offense, if Jordan White and Alex Carder are Iron Man and Captain America, then Chleb Ravenell and Robert Arnheim are Thor and The Hulk. They are all great together, and the four of them make up an insane team to stop. If we had a run game then maybe it would be the entire Avengers line-up.
On D, the corners are the key. Lewis Toler has been pretty quiet this year, but I think that means he's doing his job. Aaron Winchester, while being a little cocky at times, has worked into a good spot at CB across Toler. If the Falcons want to be successful Saturday, they have to run. The key to that is making sure they block Drew Nowak, a big DT that loves to stop the run. Paul Hazel and Mitch Zajak are also big players.
Oh, and our special teams aren't bad either. Ben Armer hasn't punted much this year, but he usually does good. And 2-time MAC West POTW John Potter is both a good kicker, and kick-off tackler, notching 30 tackles in his career.
MS: In which Harry Potter book was Chleb Ravenell introduced? Or maybe that was the John Potter series.
Okay, score predictions. I'll go with BG 35-32. I don't know why. I just said like five paragraphs ago they probably won't win. Torture, perhaps.
B&G: The line is surprisingly at 11 for Western. I have no idea if Vegas knows Bowling Green is performing well this year. Western is 4-0 against the spread in payable games (Michigan doesn't count), but I don't know if they will keep that streak alive. Too large a spread against too good a team. Western wins 35-27, and I have a heart attack in the stands as Bowling Green starts the 4th with the lead.