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2018 Week 5 MAC Preview: Bowling Green Falcons @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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Can Bowling Green give its fanbase a sliver of optimism?

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

It’s year three of the Mike Jinks era, and it’s September. Septembers haven’t been kind to Bowling Green during these years, as the Falcons boast a lousy 0-10 record versus FBS teams during the month.

That’s correct. Bowling Green has not beaten an FBS team in September since Dino Babers left. The odds are stacked against the Falcons this Saturday at Georgia Tech, and falling to 0-11 in such games looks very plausible. Bowling Green squandered a golden opportunity last weekend, hosting a hapless 0-3 Miami (OH) RedHawks team.

The Falcons were fresh off of a tough-fought win over Eastern Kentucky of the FCS, but Bowling Green couldn’t carry the momentum of win No. 1 into Doyt-Perry Stadium on Week 4. The RedHawks won without contest, holding an advantage as great as 31-3 in the fourth quarter.

It wasn’t until the final six minutes of the game when Bowling Green’s offense woke up. The Falcons scored three touchdowns in the final 334 seconds of clock time, including a Hail Mary as time expired (which broke the over and was featured on Scott Van Pelt’s “Bad Beats” segment on SportsCenter). Even with the mini-comeback, Jinks’ team fell 38-23 to Miami.

Georgia Tech is also 1-3, and the Yellow Jackets’ lone win also comes over an FCS team. The triple option-oriented offense failed to prevail against South Florida, Pittsburgh, and most recently, Clemson. Unlike Bowling Green, Georgia Tech possesses close losses on its résumé. The Yellow Jackets lost road games at South Florida and Pitt by 11 and 5, respectively. Bowling Green’s closest loss of the year is the 15-point margin against Miami (OH).

Quarterback Jarret Doege will likely make his fifth start of 2018 in Atlanta this Saturday. Since Matt Johnson left the program, Bowling Green has yet to settle on a long-term starting quarterback, but the sophomore seems to fit the part. Doege threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns last weekend, while avoiding an interception in the loss. The sophomore took five sacks though. Even though he’s not the most mobile QB in the pocket, this can be attributed to Bowling Green’s porous offensive line, which hasn’t done the team too many favors.

Run blocking has also been a struggle for the Falcons. Andrew Clair seemed to be the team’s solution at running back entering the season, but he’s averaging 3.5 yards per rush through four games. Clair and Doege each have one rushing touchdown apiece — the only two the team has registered this year.

Defensively, the Falcons remain a disaster. Bowling Green’s defense took a major hit when it allowed 77 points twice in the 2016 season, and the team still has yet to recover. Yielding 333.5 rushing yards per game, the Falcons sport the worst rushing defense in the country, and it’s not even close.

Pair that with Georgia Tech’s fourth-ranked rushing offense, and disaster seems likely to strike. Bowling Green can expect a litany of runs all game by Paul Johnson’s offense. Quarterback TaQuon Marshall leads the Yellow Jackets’ renowned triple option attack with 340 rushing yards and five touchdowns this year.

He has a deep supporting cast of running backs, but the team already lost its premier back for the year. KirVonte Benson left the South Florida game with a season-ending knee injury, and as a result, running back Jordan Mason has stepped up as the team’s leading rusher at halfback since.

Game Notes

  • Time and Date: Saturday, September 29 — 12 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Bobby Dodd Stadium — Atlanta, GA
  • Spread: Georgia Tech (-28.5)
  • ESPN FPI Predictor: Georgia Tech has 96.0% chance to win
  • All-time series: No previous matchups

Prediction

Pictured above is Georgia Tech’s 222-0 victory over Cumberland on October 7, 1916. No, Saturday’s result won’t possibly be that lopsided, but given the level Bowling Green’s run defense has played at, the score shouldn’t be close.

Georgia Tech finally receives its easiest FBS opponent of the season, and the Yellow Jackets should have no issue running the triple option with success against the Falcons all game long. After a tough loss to Clemson, a matchup with a struggling 1-3 team is the perfect antidote to revive Georgia Tech’s disappointing record.

If Bowling Green wants to have a shot of winning this, the offensive line will have to step up, allow Doege plenty of time in the pocket, and open up holes for Andrew Clair at the line of scrimmage. If not, the Falcons fall to 0-11 against FBS opponents in September in the Mike Jinks era.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 48, Bowling Green 10