What you are about to read is a new land record for most dialogue shared between Bowling Green and Miami fans without resorting to epithets and/or Facebook unfollows. Because not all BGSU- and Miami- affiliated fans are boorish goons who swing fists at the nearest hominid wearing enemy colors. Resident Miamiologist thechuck_2112 (a birth name) and I had a chat about Bowling Green-Miami this weekend:
Chuck: Miami will win because Zac Dysert is the best quarterback we've had since Josh Betts. Some people might say he's the best we've had since Ben Roethlisberger; others might claim he's inferior to Austin Boucher. I hadn't been able to see Dysert in person until last weekend's loss to Minneosta, but after watching him live, I believe he has "it": that intangible quarterbackiness that wins games. (Of course, we lost, but that wasn't his fault -- and that's an issue for a different part of this debate.)
Dysert repeatedly kept us alive on the final drive that put Miami in a position to win the game, be it with his arm, which is his best-known attribute, or his legs, which deservedly aren't, but he's smart about how he uses them. Zac has cut way back on his most notorious feature: trying to make something out of nothing, and throwing interceptions as a result. I think he has the experience, maturity, and the talent to win the game.
Suss: This is now where I shill for Matt Schilz. He ain't better than Dysert, he's certainly not a runner, but he has a better support network around him. And he needs to, especially when you have a 2:1 pass/rush ratio. Yeah, you'll throw 55 times for 400+ yards. What I've seen in Schilz over the last year is more comfort in that beleaguered Clawfense. If you talked to me after three quarters of the Wyoming game I'd have said if you put Schilz in a position to have to beat you, you'll win. Then he goes and executes two scoring drives (including the potential game-tying one) as well as a third which ended in a slightly overthrown but catchable ball to Eugene Cooper in the end zone on fourth down.
Then I think back to last year: the near-win at Temple. Almost a carbon copy of the Wyoming game. 28-14 score and Schilz led them to two TD drives in the fourth quarter, including a two-minute drill-type one ending in a TD on the final play. This time Schilz's two-point conversion pass was batted away. Then at CMU, same thing. Down by four, needed a touchdown with two minutes to play. 59 yards later they get in for the game-winning TD. Hey maybe this guy's got comeback potential.
So how are you going to stop this offense?
Chuck: I think "he's certainly not a runner" is about the most relieving thing you could have told me about Schilz. Time and time again over the past few years, Miami's defense has been completely exposed by running quarterbacks. Last week, Marqueis Gray looked like Denard Robinson — and he's not Denard Robinson by a long shot. (The only exception I can think of in the past few years is James Franklin at Mizzou, but he had some first-game jitters going.) If the Clawfense is going to rely more on traditional running and passing than someone like Chandler Harnish doing both, that helps Miami's defense a lot — I'm happy relying on guys like Jerrell Wedge, Evan Harris, Pat Hinkle, and Dayonne Nunley in that situation, especially with Pete Rekstis drawing up the defensive schemes.
And the Miami defense is certainly used to making big plays to win big games: last year's MAC title wasn't won by blowout after blowout, it was won by games so close that the Miami broadcasting staff was able to distill the entire regular season to twelve make-or-break plays for a video package. They've fought off furious comeback efforts before, and they can do it again.
What do you see as a potential worry that's not obvious? (This is my way of saying I don't want to talk about Miami's special teams. They're rather obvious.)
For the RedHawks, I think it's the offensive line. Minnesota was in the backfield on virtually every single play. Sure, Dysert repeatedly made something out of nothing -- especially on the last drive of the game -- but it's worrisome that he was in that position to begin with. Matt Kennedy, who was supposed to be one of the anchors of the line, was injured last week and doesn't show up in this week's two-deep. And starting left tackle Brad Bednar isn't just #1 at LT, he's also #2 at left guard and center, per the game notes. As you might guess, the depth just isn't there: at times last week, Miami spelled the starters by putting two true freshmen on the line. Makes you wonder about the quality of our non-starting upperclassmen.
If Bowling Green is able to establish dominance on the line early, that would go a long way toward a Falcon victory.
Suss: Sorry, what's that? You said Miami special teams?
Nah, I think they'll be cool.
My concerns mostly stem from the obvious issues against Wyoming: six turnovers, two blocked kicks. Kyle Burkhardt drives the ball with a low trajectory, which explains the blocked field goal and game-tying extra point. As for the turnovers, they showed up in all kinds, but the running backs seemed to have some lazy gaffes near end zone-type areas. Not like there's a *good* place to have the dropsies.
And, just because it's second nature in BG, I'm wary of the defense, even though they gave up 15, 13, and (basically) 21 points through three games. They're also third (behind OHIO and Florida) in third down conversion percentage allowed (20.4%) so that tells me that the 4-2-5 scheme is actually working and despite a lack of depth they're able to keep long drives to a minimum. Essentially my main concern is the big play.
Convince me why Miami's going to win this game. For bonus points: what inclement weather will they play through.
Chuck: I think this will be a close one, but I'm convinced Miami will win because of intangibles. First, the Miami Whammy is real, even if Dave Clawson doesn't tell his players about it. Bowling Green is second in all-time MAC wins, second in MAC winning percentage, and second in MAC championships. Miami is #1. Bowling Green is something like (my numbers may be a little off here) 120 games above .500 against all MAC teams except Miami, but 20-42-5 all-time against Miami.
Why? Because of the Miami Whammy, which turns awful Miami teams into decent ones, stellar Bowling Green teams into pedestrian ones, wide-open looks into interceptions, and air into pea soup. The Whammy even works when Miami is awful: going back to 1975, there have been five seasons in which Miami had three or fewer wins. The Red and White are 3-1-1 against the Falcons in those years. The Whammy isn't new -- the Blade was writing about it back in 1982 -- and it's not going away any time soon.
Second, and on a much more somber note, Miami's volunteer equipment manager, Lyman "Tootie" Wooten, passed away on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. A retired truck driver, Tootie agreed to help out former equipment chief Don Miller in 1996, and had been a constant presence at Yager Stadium ever since. Even though he wasn't getting paid, Tootie was often the first person in the office each morning and the last to leave each night. Not many people knew his name, but as RedHawks and Redskins current and former have said again and again, he was the heart and soul of the team. I think Miami is going to go out there and win one for Tootie.
I'm going with Miami 27, BG 17. As for weather, I'm going to say 60 degrees and pouring rain, with wind at 20 miles per hour. Your thoughts on why BG wins, and what the weather has in store?
Suss: Intangibles and voodoo curses? That's all you got? And is that the same MU tradition that chose not to recruit Chuck Ealey?
I'll take my chances on this year's team. It's not just Schilz waiting for Kamar Jorden to get open and then taking the sack anymore. He can distribute and he's got a running back. like Chris Jones and the D-line containing a rushing linebacker. I like the secondary keeping Cruse and Harwell in check, and getting an occasional big play. I might have nightmares about Roethlisberger picking apart the BG D, but Boo Boo Gates was 11 then. And down in the fourth, I like the offense to move 70 yards in four minutes.
BG 30, Miami 26. Oh, and there will be insects.
Chuck: We *did* offer Ealey a scholarship, but Schembechler told him he'd be way down the depth chart. Toledo told him he could compete for the starting job. Probably a blunder on par with Ohio State wanting Roethlisberger to play tight end, but an offer nonetheless.
Suss: He should've taken the offer. He would make a good tight end! [nightmare flashback]