On the surface, the Tuesday night MACtion between Bowling Green (2-8) and Kent State (3-7) doesn’t offer much in the way of interest. The two teams have combined to post a miserable 5-15 record and for many fans of both, the season’s end couldn’t come fast enough. With that said, there are still a number of interesting things to watch as these two MAC East rivals meet for the 84th time.
The primary reason why this game is worth checking out is that points will surely be scored in abundance. Despite Kent State’s, at times, ragged offensive output this season, I have no confidence in Bowling Green to stop the one man show that is Nick Holley. Why do I have such confidence you ask? Well, Bowling Green is dead last in the league in scoring defense by a wide margin, giving up over 43 points per game.
This lack of successful scoring defense for Bowling Green isn’t entirely the fault of the defensive unit as the offense has coughed up the ball at an alarming rate. Through ten games, Bowling Green has either thrown an interception or lost a fumble 28 times, again leading the conference. Factor that in with well over 60 yards of penalties a game and the picture of Bowling Green’s season paints itself.
That bleak picture is being painted without a doubt for the Falcons this season, but there have been a few rays of sunshine sprinkled in. A week ago, Bowling Green upset the Akron Zips, possibly spoiling their shot at a bowl berth. The duo of Fred Coppet and Donovan Wilson became dynamic, if only for the day, in racking up a combined 235 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Due to the quarterback struggles Bowling Green has experienced this season (James Morgan and James Knapke have combined for 23 interceptions), expect a heavy dose of both Coppet and the rest of the rushing game against Kent State. Coppet has an outside shot at reaching 1,000 yards on the season, needing 235 in the remaining two games so keep an eye on the effort made by the Bowling Green coaching staff to see this senior off with plenty of touches. Coppet also has a shot to improve on his career rushing yards mark to 5th all-time in program history, further adding to the intrigue.
Kent State is of course led by Nick Holley, who is now well into his rule at quarterback. Despite the growing number of reps and practice at his new position, Holley is still not asked to frequently throw and he still only has 127 attempts on the season. Joining him in the backfield is freshman running back Justin Rankin who should quite frankly be getting the ball much more often. Rankin is the team leader in receiving yards and outside of Holley is leading the team in rushing. With Bowling Green surrendering 4.9 yards per rush on the season, I would expect Kent State to pound the ball on the ground.
Finally, for you draft nerds out there looking for some Tuesday entertainment, there are a few NFL fringe prospects to keep an eye on and impress your friends should they prove to be one of the hidden MAC gems that pop up every year. The matchup to watch is of course wide receiver Ronnie Moore against slot corner Najee Murray.
Ronnie Moore has been having a disappointing senior season that can’t be pinned entirely on his shoulders. With the inconsistent quarterback play, Moore hasn’t been able to find the connection that led him to catching 72 balls for 954 yards a year ago. However, Moore is still the prospect to watch as he easily fits into the mold of tiny slot receiver that NFL scouts have fallen in love with. Without much imagination, you can imagine Moore becoming next season’s Eli Rodgers and making an immediate impact on the right team.
Going against Moore will be Najee Murray who has really impressed me in his senior season. A slot specialist himself, Murray is excellent at both blitzing and providing run support and covering the zippy quick mini’s that occupy his opposite position. Murray is generating almost no draft buzz right now, but if he could make a senior bowl roster, I’m sure he could impress as he is always around the ball.
The game at Bowling Green kicks off in the typical MACtion time slot of 8:00 PM ET and can be found on ESPNU.