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2020 Mid-American Conference Football Week 5 Game Preview: Bowling Green Falcons at Akron Zips

Two rebuilding squads battle for the first win of the 2020 season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 17 Akron at Kent State
Head Coach Tom Arth looking for win number one as Zips’ head coach
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Someone is about to win for the first time in a long time when the Bowling Green Falcons (0-4) travel to the Rubber City to take on the Akron Zips (0-4),

Akron is looking to break a 21-game losing streak and earn Tom Arth his first win as the Zips head coach. Bowling Green is looking to break a seven-game losing streak going back to 2019, when the Falcons beat the Zips 35-6.

The game looks to be much more competitive than the 2019 version and the team that puts its best foot forward will win.

Game Info

When: Saturday, December 5 at 2 p.m. (EST)

Where: InfoCision Stadium, Summa Field, Akron, Ohio

Watch/Stream: ESPN 3 (valid cable subscription required)

Weather: Cloudy, snow flurries possible, high of 38, winds 11 MPH, per

Odds: Bowling Green is a 2.5 point underdog per OddsShark.


Quick Facts (2020 stats, through Week 4)

  • Points per game: 16.3
  • Points allowed per game: 47.3
  • Total yards: 1202 (639 passing, 563 rushing),
  • Yards allowed: 1957 (1056 passing, 901 rushing)

Key Players:

  • RB Teon Dollard
  • WR Nate Stewart
  • WR/KR Michael Mathison
  • LT Xavior Gray
  • C Bryce Petersen
  • TE Maverick Wolfley
  • DT Bryce Wilson
  • LB Bubba Arslanian

When Akron Has the Football

Akron’s running game vs the Falcon’s run defense:

If Akron wins this game, the running game figures to play a huge role.

Through four games, Akron’s best offensive weapon has been RB Teon Dollard, who has rushed for 456 yards and four touchdowns. Boding well for Akron’s prospects for success is that Bowling Green is giving up yards on the ground at an alarming rate in 2020, averaging 339 rushing yards allowed per game. If Akron can control the clock and turn in a few explosive plays, that could be the difference.

Running the ball also figures to help Akron minimize its turnovers, which is an obvious key to the game. Akron is 114th in the FBS in turnover margin at -6, and has five interceptions in four games. Redshirt freshman QB Zach Gibson has had some nice moments in relief of Kato Nelson (who apparently is still recovering from offseason surgery), but needs to avoid those few disastrous decisions per game that have resulted in interceptions which have sunk the Zips’ ship up to this point.

TE Maverick Wolfley could end up being a weapon for the Zips if they apply what BGSU gives up on defense in the film room. Although Wolfley only has two receptions on the season, he is a capable player and the Ohio Bobcats showed last week where the Falcon’s defense might be vulnerable in the passing game from the tight end position. Ohio’s Ryan Luehrman caught five passes, including two touchdowns.


Quick Facts (2020 stats, through Week 3):

  • Points per game: 13.5
  • Points allowed per game: 48.5
  • Total yards: 1337 (577 passing, 760 rushing)
  • Yards allowed: 2097 (741 passing, 1356 rushing)

Key Players:

  • RB Andrew Clair
  • TE Quintin Morris
  • WR Julian Ortega-Jones
  • LB Darren Anders
  • LB Kholbe Coleman

When Bowling Green has the Ball

Bowling Green rolled out an offensive game plan vs Ohio last week which took advantage of its strengths and could have worked better if the execution was improved, a continuing problem pointed out by head coach Scot Loeffler at a press conference a few weeks back.

At its most successful vs Ohio, the Falcons leaned on former All-MAC players RB Andrew Clair and TE Quintin Morris to do the heavy lifting. They ran the ball and targeted Morris at least eight times in the first half, mostly in the short passing game. The Falcons produced some successful first half drives, with Clair rushing for 118 yards on the day and Morris finishing the first half with six catches for 69 yards.

I could see the Falcons taking a similar approach offensively this weekend against Akron. When you are a team completing 40.8% of your passes, with a 1-6 td-to-int ratio, allowing 48.5 points a game, a running game and short passing game that controls the clock, puts the ball into your best players’ hands, and keeps your defense off the field makes sense.

And Bowling Green figures to be able to have some success running the ball featuring an offensive unit ranking fifth in the MAC in rushing yards while Akron’s defense ranks eighth in rushing yards against.

To succeed in the run and short passing game, key battles will be against Akron’s sophomore DT Bryce Wilson (Jersey #0) and LB Bubba Arslanian. I see Wilson as player with potential to develop into an All-MAC selection. Wilson returned last week after missing a few weeks and made a difference against Miami in the run game, as Akron limited the RedHawks to only 108 yards rushing on 27 carries. Wilson’s return also lengthens Akron’s defensive line rotation, giving the Zips defense a shot at playing better in the fourth quarter. A major reason the Zips gave up 69 points to Kent State a few weeks back was lack of defensive line depth.

The Falcons have the same issue at QB as the Zips: they need to find a way to eliminate a few bad decisions in the passing game. With five minutes left in the first half vs Ohio, the Falcons were still in the contest, with a 21-10 Ohio lead. Then the Falcons had two disastrous passes which led to two interceptions. Ohio capitalized on these interceptions in route to a 24-point flurry in the last five minutes of the second quarter and a 45-10 halftime lead.

Final Thoughts

Either team could win this one and, if both teams play their best games, it could be very competitive. Akron is at home and doesn’t have to deal with all the COVID-related travel issues, which is a plus. Akron also seems to have the more talented roster, another mark in their favor. All said, BGSU has pulled some strangley competitive performances at times, even during blowouts. If they can manage to string together a full game of that, they’re in a good poisition to win.

Ultimately, I think Akron gets the win to stop the losing streak at 21 games.