Bowling Green Falcons (7-3, 5-1 MAC)
at Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-8, 1-5 MAC)
Saturday, November 23 -- 1:00 p.m. ET
Rynearson Stadium -- Ypsilanti, Mich.
It would be nice to be able to sell this game, but frankly, there's not much to sell. The game is as devoid of larger implications (other than a simple win or loss) as any late November game could be.
The Bowling Green Falcons already know that, win or lose on Saturday, they will play the Buffalo Bulls in one week for the MAC East championship and a spot in the MAC Championship Game against the Northern Illinois Huskies. One could argue that the game still carries potential bowl implications if the Falcons lose, but with Ohio's collapse and Toledo's loss to NIU last night, BGSU now appears to be on much sturdier ground in that regard.
The Eastern Michigan Eagles season was essentially over weeks ago, and the players have had to deal with the death of a teammate and the firing of their head coach in recent weeks. A victory would give EMU a rare two-game winning streak, but there's not much more meaning for them than that.
You can be pretty sure that the Eagles will show up motivated on Saturday. It will be their second game under interim head coach Stan Parrish, and EMU built some momentum with their 35-32 overtime victory two weeks ago against Western Michigan. The big question here is whether or not Bowling Green will be "all-in" mentally, with their looming showdown against Buffalo on the horizon.
Yes, Bowling Green steamrolled Miami on the road two weeks ago and showed no interest in letting Ohio hang around last week. Their wins, by a combined score of 94-3, were the first back-to-back games won by 40+ points in program history. However, the Falcons needed to win both games. Only with their win against Oho and Buffalo's loss at Toledo did next week's game become winner-take-all. This will be BGSU's first "no-meaning" game of the season.
If the Falcons don't give their top effort, the Eagles could give them some trouble, especially with their offense. Gabe Martin has already been lost for the season, and Jude Adjei-Barimah is doubtful to play for Bowling Green's defense. BGSU sports a lot of depth on the MAC's top-ranked defense, obviously, but EMU has talented players that could exploit those losses. In particular, running backs Bronson Hill (928 yds) and Ryan Brumfield (444 yds) are both dangerous. Each sports a yards-per-carry average of more than five.
However, BGSU head coach Dave Clawson has the team ready to play on Saturday, another runaway is certainly possible. Bowling Green's offense has struggled at times early in games, but once Matt Johnson and company get going, they're incredibly difficult to stop. In each of their last two games (plus others at the beginning of the season), the Falcons scored on several consecutive possessions.
And frankly, Eastern Michigan had made a habit of being blown out by large margins until Ron English was finally let go. In seven of EMU's ten games, they have given up at least 42 points and lost by at least 28. They have losses of 51-20 (vs Ball State), 50-25 (at Army), 56-28 (vs Ohio), 59-20 (at Northern Illinois) and 55-16 (at Toledo).
Bottom line here? We can all hope for a close game here, but Eastern Michigan has given no indication at any point this season that their defense is capable of stopping any offense, much less one as diverse as Bowling Green's. Even if the Eagles are able to notch some points of their own, it's unlikely that their total will be anywhere close to enough.
BGSU leads the all-time series, 24-11-1. They've won 10 of the last 11 meetings dating back to 1990 (and 24 of 30 since EMU won or tied each of the first six games). The Falcons won the last meeting, last year in Bowling Green, 24-3. Eastern Michigan won the meeting prior to that, 24-21 in 2008.
Tale of the tape:
BGSU Points Per Game: 33.1 --- EMU Points Allowed Per Game: 44.2
BGSU Total Offense Per Game: 451.9 --- EMU Total Defense Per Game: 518.0
BGSU Passing Offense Per Game: 255.9 --- EMU Passing Defense Per Game: 267.5
BGSU Rushing Offense Per Game: 196.0 --- EMU Rushing Defense Per Game: 250.5
EMU Points Per Game: 20.9 --- BGSU Points Allowed Per Game: 15.1
EMU Total Offense Per Game: 362.1 --- BGSU Total Offense Allowed Per Game: 325.8
EMU Passing Offense Per Game: 198.2 --- BGSU Passing Defense Per Game: 171.6
EMU Rushing Offense Per Game: 163.9 --- BGSU Rushing Defense Per Game: 154.2
BGSU Turnover Margin: + 7 --- EMU Turnover Margin: - 9