It has been unclear as to who the best team in the MAC East has been all season. Bowling Green currently stands in first, Akron in second, and two teams are tied for third place. These are the two teams that we expected to see there at this point in the season.
However, we were not anticipating Bowling Green playing without quarterback Matt Johnson for nearly the entire season. The absence of Johnson hasn't stopped this team from playing good football this year. They are 3-1 in MAC play and are coming off of a 26-14 loss to Western Michigan at home more than two weeks ago. Akron was playing like it was 2005 before losing quarterback Kyle Pohl to a head injury against Miami on October 11. He hasn't played since and his back up Tommy Woodson has been less than impressive.
The Bowling Green offense, nicknamed FalconFast, was far from fast against the Broncos as they only put up fourteen points, their lowest total of the season. Quarterback James Knapke had just 139 yards while completing 20 of his 33 attempts. Combined with Travis Greene's 46 yards on the ground, the Bowling Green offense was mediocre and only racked up 274 total yards.
The Bowling Green defense got back to its struggles after a good week against Ohio on October 11. They weren't as bad as they had been all year, but there were still problems. The Falcon secondary only gave up 166 yards through the air, but the also gave up 195 on the ground. 149 of those rushing yards came on 37 carries by Jarvion Franklin, who has been unstoppable all year. Franklin also added a rushing touchdown, his 19th of the season. The Falcons will have to go up against the rock-solid Akron defense on Tuesday, which could cause some problems. Kyle Pohl will return for Akron, and that is not good news for the Bowling Green defense.
Akron, sitting at 4-4 and 2-2 in the conference, comes into Tuesday's game in the midst of a two game losing skid to Ohio and Ball State. Woodson threw six interceptions in the two games including four in the second half against Ball State. The interceptions gave the Cardinals great field position and made the Akron defense stay on the field for a long time, leading to a 35-21 loss.
Fortunately for the Zips, Kyle Pohl will return as starting quarterback on Tuesday night. Pohl was blindsided against Miami and had his head slammed into the turf resulting in a concussion. The concussion could have very well cost the Zips two conference wins and a first place spot in the East division.
The Zips and Falcons first played each other in 1941 in an 8-0 Akron victory. However, the Falcons lead the all-time series 13-7 and they are in the midst of a five game winning streak. Akron last beat Bowling Green under J.D. Brookhart in 2006 by a 35-28 score. Bowling Green won last year's match up 31-14.
This game could very well be the MAC East championship game, but nothing is guaranteed. Akron still has to play UMass and Bowling Green has to go to Toledo. This is a must win for both of these teams as the season begins to wind down.
My prediction? I think Kyle Pohl will return with a fire in his belly and light up the Falcon secondary. This will help get the running game going with Jawon Chisholm and Conor Hundley as well. The Akron defense is coming off of a few extra days to rest, and will keep FalconFast under check. Akron-42 Bowling Green-24