We only saw touchdowns at Doyt-Perry Stadium on Saturday afternoon, and we saw 11 of them.
Despite holding a 14-point lead throughout multiple points of the game, Bowling Green lost its sixth game of the year, 42-35, to the visiting Western Michigan Broncos. The Broncos, behind a revived offense that’s averaging 42.2 points per game on their current 5-game winning streak, managed to score four of the final five touchdowns to become one step away from bowl eligibility.
Here’s what we learned from Bowling Green (1-6) vs. Western Michigan (5-2):
The loss cost Mike Jinks his job
It was announced Sunday afternoon that Bowling Green has parted ways with head coach Mike Jinks. Jinks’ time with Bowling Green lasted about 2.5 years, but it seems like Saturday’s loss was the final straw. With the loss, Jinks fell to 7-24 in his career and 1-6 on the season. He never defeated a team with a winning record while at Bowling Green and had a golden opportunity to do so against Western Michigan, leading by 14 points in the middle of the third quarter.
The defense did their former head coach no favors, allowing 42 points and six touchdowns in the loss. Bowling Green allowed 42 or more points in five of six losses this year, and given the unit hasn’t improved under Jinks’ reign, the Falcons have decided to implement a major change.
Bowling Green’s offense can compete with anybody in the MAC
The Falcons’ scored five touchdowns. Yes, Western Michigan’s defense has frequently struggled this season, allowing 55 to Syracuse, 49 to Michigan, and 39 to Miami (OH), but what Jarret Doege and the offense did at Doyt-Perry Stadium was still impressive.
Doege threw for 379 yards and three touchdowns on 34 attempts. Running back Andrew Clair rushed for 80 yards (although 74 were on one touchdown carry) and wide receiver Scott Miller absolutely shredded the Broncos’ secondary with 206 receiving yards and two touchdowns on eight catches.
The offensive line provided necessary protection, only allowing one sack all afternoon. The talent on Bowling Green’s offense is too great for a 1-6 team. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the defense’s struggles have outweighed the offense’s successes. So, for the second-straight week, Bowling Green scores at least 35 points and loses to a talented team — but not because of Doege, Miller, and Co.
Bogan and Bellamy are perfect complements
Bellamy got the yards, Bogan got the touchdowns.
Bellamy tore up Bowling Green with his speed and agility, Bogan attacked with his driving feet and tackle-shedding ability.
The star running back duo had a field day against the worst rushing defense in the FBS. LeVante Bellamy, the MAC’s leading rusher, eclipsed the 120-yard mark for the third time this season with 145 yards — his most since 149 against Ohio in 2015.
Bellamy averaged 6.0 yard per carry, while Bogan averaged 5.0, which are both impressive marks for the running backs.
Bogan had struggled in recent weeks but arrived back on the scene with a 75-yard day and four touchdowns. The senior from New Jersey was responsible for both the game-tying and game-winning scores in the fourth quarter, serving as a reliable red zone threat for the Broncos all game long. Bogan won’t likely reach former teammate Jarvion Franklin for most rushing touchdowns in Western Michigan history (52), but he’s in prime position to reach second place. Bogan has 35 and former running back Jerome Persell reached the end zone 39 times from 1976-78.
Bowling Green’s offense played great in all facets of the game except one: holding onto the ball. It’s a miracle the Falcons managed to stay within seven points of Western Michigan given poor defensive play and a litany of turnovers.
Bowling Green threw two interceptions, both to wide-receiver-turned-cornerback Anton Curtis. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the timing of these interceptions couldn’t have been any worse, as both picks were thrown in Western Michigan territory within the game’s final three minutes.
The Falcons also committed two fumbles which were both exchanged for touchdowns. Clair fumbled at the beginning of a drive when Bowling Green led 14-0, breathing life into Western Michigan’s struggling offense. Then, Doege took his lone sack of the day in the third quarter, and Eric Assoua recovered the resulting fumble while Bowling Green was up 14 and aiming to go up three scores. This resulted in a 14-point swing in the Broncos’ favor, as Western Michigan scored on a D’Wayne Eskridge receiving touchdown eight plays later.
Bowling Green lost the turnover battle, 4-2. Considering the first two turnovers occurred when up 14 and the lost two occurred in the final three minutes, Bowling Green can’t help but think about how these takeaways monumentally affected the outcome of the game.
Is Western Michigan for real? Jury is still out.
This was a topic of discussion in this week’s roundtable.
Western Michigan’s offense has come to life after an 0-2 start that featured double-digit losses to Syracuse and Michigan. While the Michigan loss looks more reasonable after the Wolverines decimated Wisconsin, it’s still hard to tell how good the Broncos really are.
Anything can happen in a rivalry game, but given Central Michigan’s level of play, Western Michigan is likely to improve to 6-2 next week when it visits Mount Pleasant. But pump the brakes.
This game against Bowling Green seemed like a guaranteed win for Western Michigan, but the Broncos had to climb out of a 14-point hole as late as the middle of the third quarter. If not for opportune turnovers, Western Michigan could have experienced its ugliest loss of the Tim Lester era and dropped to 4-3.
Instead, the Broncos rolled to 3-0 in MAC play with wins over Eastern Michigan (by 3), Miami-OH (by 1), and Bowling Green (by 7). Western Michigan’s non-conference wins are FCS cellar dweller Delaware State and Georgia State of the Sun Belt. While the offense of the Broncos looks poised and efficient, it’s hard to tell if this team is the MAC West frontrunner because of all these close calls.