Scot Loeffler will get his first taste of MAC on MAC crime as the Bowling Green Falcons travel to Kent, Ohio for a rivalry game against the Kent State Golden Flashes from Dix Stadium on a homecoming weekend.
The two schools play for the Anniversary Award, as both schools were founded as Ohio state sponsored schools in 1910. The two schools first met in 1920 and first played for the Anniversary Award in 1985, after the state of Ohio apparently didn’t want the awkwardness of forgetting their anniversary. Bowling Green has mostly dominated the rivalry to date with a 60-20-6 all-time record. However, Kent State won last year’s meeting 35-28 to end a string of five straight BGSU victories.
The two teams come into the matchup off of trying starts to the season. Bowling Green is 1-2 with their lone victory coming against lowly FCS school Morgan State. Their two loses came to the Big 12’s Kansas State and Louisiana Tech, a strong Group of Five school.
Kent State is 1-2 with their victory being a walk-off overtime victory against FCS Kennesaw State. Their two blemishes coming to undefeated Arizona State and undefeated Auburn.
Both teams are optimistic that MAC play will result in brighter fortunes for their schools. This could be the first meeting of many between two rising MAC coaches in Sean Lewis for Kent State and Loeffler for BGSU. One thing to note, is that Lewis is in his second year at Kent State so that extra year with his squad could prove to be an advantage against a Falcon squad who is still learning Loeffler’s system while dealing with defections.
Kent State graduate assistant Matt Johnson is the former MAC champion QB during his playing days at BGSU.
For the Falcons, their biggest question is with their star tailback Andrew Clair. Clair returned to action last week against Louisiana Tech, but was largely ineffective with just 22 yards on 11 carries. The Falcons are used to more from Clair and will need more to surprise in the MAC. Davon Jones is having a solid season as a transfer from Boston College and has proven worthy of picking up the slack. Auburn ran for over 400 yards against the Kent defensive last week, so there could be chances for Clair, Jones, and fellow back Bryson Denley to do damage.
To have a chance against Kent State (surprisingly favored by 10.5 points), BGSU will need to show more in the red zone than a week ago where they had one turnover on downs, and a missed kick.
Bowling Green features a mobile quarterback in Darius Wade, but the Falcons offense has struggled to find its way against bowl subdivision competition, being shut out by Kansas State and scoring just once against Tech.
Kent State has rotated quarterbacks between Dustin Crum and Woody Barrett in each of their first three games. Crum set his career high in week two against Kennesaw, and was solid going 15-24 for 198 yards with a TD against a much stronger Auburn squad. Crum’s 24 attempts a week ago, were a career high. The Flash offense has seemed to have more rhythm with Crum opposed to Barrett, who looked like a potential all-MAC selection entering the year. Neither quarterback has thrown a pick so far.
With Clair slowed by an injury, Kent’s Jo-El Shaw should be the best player on the field. Shaw struggled last week with just nine yards but had 93 against Kennesaw State and 67 against an Arizona State defense which gave Michigan State fits. His 4.3 yards per carry average isn’t far from his 4.8 mark a year ago.
Some of the MAC’s best will do battle at the receiver position as Quintin Morris for BGSU has emerged as a consistent target for Wade while the Flashes feature Isaiah McKoy, Kavious Price, and Antwan Dixon. McCoy and Price are tied for fifth in the MAC with 13 receptions with McCoy leading the MAC with three touchdowns.
Both teams feature experienced offensive lines with Kent State being led by Rimington nominee Nate Warnock at center and Adam Gregoire returning from injury at tackle. Bowling Green’s line struggled a week ago, but is led by center Jack Kramer.
Defensively, linebacker Matt Bahr looks the part of an all-MAC canidate with 15 tackles on the young season. Transfer safety Qwuantreezz Knight hasn’t looked out of place against the tough competition. After being tested against Auburn from the SEC, don’t expect Kent State to back away from anything the Falcons throw at them.
Bowling Green’s defense stood strong a week ago. In fact, much stronger than the final score showed. They remain among the nation’s top 20 in many categories, aided by their dominating performance in week 1 vs Morgan State.
Linebacker Brandon Perce continues to make plays, including an interception a week ago. David Konowalski added his first sack since 2017, as he continues his return from injury. Kholbe Coleman is the Falcons leading tackler and sack man.
Kent kicker Matthew Trickett is one of the best kickers in the MAC, including a perfect four for four in Kent’s only win on the season. Nate Needham for BGSU missed a field goal a week ago but Matt Naranjo downed four of his punts inside the opponent’s twenty yard line. Golden Flash punter Derek Adams had five kicks downed inside the 20 vs Arizona State earlier this year.
It is hard to draw much from the early season statistics as both teams have either played above or below their level. For example, much of Bowling Green’s defensive stats have been inflated by their week one victory over an FCS school, while Kent State’s offense has been dragged down by outstanding power five defenses.
This should be the first honest test for both schools so far this season as the result of this week’s contest will likely serve as a large indicator as to which direction the teams seasons are headed. Whichever team that loses will have a hard time being favored to win again in 2019.
A week after having their homecoming spoiled, the Falcons will look to do the same to the Golden Flashes.