It feels much longer than two years since the Bowling Green Falcons last captured a MAC Championship.
2015 may have been the peak of BGSU football, highlighted with a 20-point trouncing over Northern Illinois at Ford Field in Dino Baber’s second season as head coach.
Now, with a new man in charge who lost eight of his first nine games last season, before grabbing consecutive wins over East Division foes Akron, Buffalo and Kent State.
There was an expectation set forth this offseason that improvement would suffice, not so much as getting back to Detroit but certainly being competitive before the month of November.
As a 25-point underdog in their season opener in East Lansing against Michigan State, the Falcons offense couldn’t manage a touchdown and the defense allowed 35 straight points to a team impaired with off-the-field distractions.
The second year of the Mike Jinks era needs a win Saturday, when BGSU hosts FCS South Dakota, who opened its season with a 77-7 thumping over Drake last week.
Bowling Green has won seven of its eight previous home openers and could improve to 10-0 against FCS programs since 2000. The Coyotes aren’t pushovers, however, and won’t lay down for a team that gave up 465 yards of total offense.
When Bowling Green Has The Ball
Redshirt sophomore James Morgan gets his second straight start at quarterback this year. As the successor to former All-MAC standout Matt Johnson, his outing against the Spartans was far from respectable, 10-of-31 for 145 yards and an interception.
Morgan, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, was No. 22 in Hustle Belt’s top 25 players list. The ranking is based on his potential to get the Falcons back to a bowl game, something they did four years in a row from 2012-15, winning the 2014 Camellia Bowl over South Alabama.
His 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in eight starts last season is respectable for a newly starter, but those numbers need to rise.
On Saturday, the running back corp must be utilized against a South Dakota defense that allowed 250 yards rushing per game last season. The Falcons’ ball carriers combined for 67 yards and 24 attempts last week, with true freshman Andrew Clair grabbing four carries for 22 yards.
BGSU does bring back sophomore Scott Miller, who earned first-team all-conference honors in 2016. He caught 74 passes for 968 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
When South Dakota Has The Ball
Coyotes quarterback Chris Streveler, who transferred from Minnesota, went on a tear against Drake, finished 17-of-24 on pass attempts for 248 yards and five touchdowns.
What’s even more impressive is Streveler did all of that in the first half.
USD’S 77 points were the most scored by any FBS program ever and the most for the Coyotes since 2005. Streveler is a two-time All-Missouri Valley Football Conference recipient and scored 31 of South Dakota’s 41 total touchdowns last season.
Despite winning four games in 2016, USD scored at least 20 points in every game for the first time in program history, and while running the no-huddle, the team had 19 touchdown drives finish in less than two minutes.
Kick off is at 5 p.m. EST at Perry Stadium. This is the 10th occurance in the last eighth seasons that the Coyotes will play an FBS program, getting just one win in the process on Sept. 11, 2010, against Minnesota. Bowling Green has a 13-2 all-time record against MVFC programs. That number is sort of skewed, however, as eight wins have come from Southern Illinois.
It’ll be difficult for the Falcons to spin back-to-back losses, potentially finishing the non-conference schedule winless, as Middle Tennessee State and Northwestern are next up. South Dakota isn’t a bottom tier FCS program and should leave Bowling Green with the upset.