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Bowling Green Falcons vs. Akron Zips: 5 Things Learned

The first FBS win in the Mike Jinks era at BGSU.

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Bowling Green has taken a major stride this season. Week-to-week, the Falcons are improving. The improvement did not translate to their record until this victory, but Bowling Green is slowly blossoming into form. Less than two months ago, this team looked lifeless, losing by 74 points to Memphis and shaping up to be one of the worst defenses in recent college football history. Since the loss, freshman James Morgan has taken over at quarterback and the team has improved defensively, forcing turnovers at an increased rate. The Falcon defense held Akron, 29.8 points per game, to a below-average 28 points—on the road. Mike Jinks and his program should recognize the progression this team has made throughout the long 2016 season. Earlier, Bowling Green lost narrowly on the road to Ohio and Toledo, but finally earned a hard-fought conference victory at InfoCision Stadium on Wednesday night.
  2. The Akron offense fails to function to its potent without its centerpiece. Akron is an offensively built team. This was known early in the season when the Zips stormed into Huntington and left with a 65-38 victory. However, an injury to junior quarterback Thomas Woodson impeded Akron’s offensive production. Woodson lasted one possession before sitting the rest of the night with an injury. Junior quarterback Tra’Von Chapman checked in for the Zips, completing 7-of-14 passes for 58 yards. Chapman left the game too, causing wide receiver Tyrell Goodman to assume the reigns at quarterback. The wideout had thrown one pass in his college career prior to the game, but ended up throwing four completions to teammates and three to the Bowling Green defense. Goodman completed a touchdown in an attempted comeback effort, but the slew of second-half turnovers ultimately cost Akron the game, and possibly bowl eligibility.
  3. It’s Donovan Wilson time for Bowling Green. The junior power running back entered the game with 131 yards on the season. He exited with an additional 119 yards and a touchdown. Wilson shredded off Akron defenders, using his strong frame to power his way down the field. Following Akron’s fumble on the kickoff near the two-minute mark, Wilson locked up a Bowling Green victory by navigating through the holes in the Akron defense and dashing his way to the end zone. Wilson and Coppet both registered over 110 yards on the night. Jinks should take note in the effectiveness of this two-back system and utilize Wilson more for the remainder of the season. The duo provides two sets of legs to keep defenders on their toes and different running styles to provide greater offensive versatility.
  4. Mistakes prevented an Akron victory. Down by three with over two minutes, Akron easily had a chance to deliver a comeback victory in front of its home crowd. But then a fumble on the kick return occurred. Bowling Green immediately capitalized on the ensuing play, the 22-yard run by Wilson. In a matter of seconds, the game evolved from a winnable game for Akron to a gut-wrenching loss. But the Zips failed to take advantage of many opportunities in this game. Six total turnovers and 83 penalty yards were the greatest hindrances to an offense that needed help following the Woodson injury. Akron’s offense still out-gained Bowling Green in yardage, but often gave the Falcons a short field to work with following turnovers. Limiting the number of turnovers to three and four—still high numbers— could have flipped the narrative of the game in Akron’s favor.
  5. Akron squandered two perfect opportunities to reach postseason. If you take an in-depth look at Akron’s bowl history, there is not much to see. Akron has made two bowls in its existence—2005 and 2015. Last year’s victory over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl was a crucial groundbreaking moment in the program’s history. It was the Zips’ first bowl win, and it seemed that Terry Bowden was guiding Akron in the right direction. Just a mere few weeks ago, the MAC East was expected to be decided November 22, when Akron would challenge the Ohio Bobcats. Now, a bowl appearance looks unlikely for the Zips, who have to upset Frank Solich’s team on the road in two weeks. An Akron bowl opportunity seemed very likely with a five in the win column and games against Buffalo and Bowling Green. Both programs exposed the Akron rushing defense, and the Zips were unable to leave victorious from either game. Bowl season seemed to be handed to Akron on a silver platter, but the Zips could not deliver during their weeknight games.