- Time and Date: Friday, Nov. 26th at noon Eastern time
- Network: CBS Sports Network
- Location: Doyt L.Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio
- Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 37 degrees, winds 15 MPH
- Line: Ohio (-6) per ESPN Pick Center
- Last Meeting: November 28, 2020, Ohio 52-10
The ‘Cats (3-8, 3-4 MAC) come into this one looking to finish the season on a high note while sending two highly-successful coaches into retirement.
Co-defensive coordinators Ron Collins and Pete Germano recently announced their retirements effective at the end of the 2021 season after a combined 27 years at Ohio. One or both were part of Ohio coaching staffs that produced four MAC East titles under former coach Frank Solich and five bowl wins from 2011-2019.
Working to send defensive coaches Collins and Germano out on a winning note as well as to finish their careers strong will be super seniors such as safeties Jarren Hampton and Alex Wolff and defensive linemen Will Evans and Zach Burks. Hampton is fifth on the Bobcats this year with 43 tackles and Evans’ 4.5 sacks in 2021 is his single-season best.
Offensively, look for the Bobcats to try to establish the run against a Falcons defense that, while holding Miami to just 119 yards last week, has generally struggled against the run, ranking 110th in the FBS in rushing yards allowed per game with just a shade under 194 yards.
The Falcons will have their hands full stopping the Bobcat ground game. According to the depth chart, senior QB Armani Rogers will get the start for what could be his final game in Green and White, and leads the Bobcats with 6.3 yards per carry this season. QB Kurtis Rourke will also play and can make defenses pay on the scramble or designed QB runs.
RB De’Montre Tuggle will be a target for the defense after Tuggle gashed the Falcons in 2020 for 185 yards and three scores on only 15 carries. Tuggle looks to build on a season-best 763 yards rushing for the Bobcats.
When Ohio’s offense goes to the air, figure the ‘Cats to target leading receiver and three-time captain Cam Odom, who, with three receptions for 20 yards or more, will set his single-season bests in both receptions and yards.
Bowling Green Falcons
With wins over Minnesota and Buffalo in 2021, the Falcons (3-8, 1-6 MAC) come into this one a better overall squad than the one the ‘Cats demolished last year, where Ohio led 45-7 at half before taking its foot off the accelerator and emptying the bench in the second half in route to a 52-10 win.
Even in losses like the one last week to Miami 34-7, the Falcons were doing a lot of good things, particularly defensively, but were ultimately undone when a few plays went really wrong and some drive-killing penalties popped up.
Bowling Green out played MAC East first place Miami for a large part of the first half, with its defensive front seven dominating at times, only to go into half down 19-6 because a blocked punt led to a three-yard touchdown drive for Miami and BG was unable to convert a 77-yard touchdown when a pass on the money to a wide-open receiver was dropped.
Bowling Green is also still working through youth-related growing pains, particularly on the offensive line, having drive-killing or extending penalties at critical moments throughout the season.
Problems aside, defensively, the Falcons have a unit with emerging talent at all levels that should keep the Falcons in this one, at least early on. Defensive linemen Karl Brooks has been getting after the QB this year as evidenced by his 5.5 sacks, which ranks sixth in the MAC.
Darren Anders is emerging as one of the better linebackers in the country, ranking best in overall in the MAC and tenth in the FBS in tackles per game with 10.1. Anders is going to be key in helping the Falcons slow down the Bobcats’ rushing attack.
Safety Jordan Anderson has had an All-MAC-caliber campaign in 2021 with 52 tackles, five passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and his 3 interceptions are tied for first in the MAC.
Offensively, given the youth on the offensive line and injuries, the Falcons will probably need some explosive plays to keep the game close for four quarters.
The connection between QB Matt McDonald and WR Tyrone Broden has provided some fireworks in 2021, as Broden leads the team with 596 yards and five scores. In a conference filled with talented wideouts, Broden’s 16.6 yards per catch stands out as he ranks 4th in the MAC in that area.
Ohio will probably find some success rushing the passer based on relative experience, where a young BG line will probably have a tough time containing Ohio players like super senior DE Will Evans for four quarters.
The Bobcats’ have struggled at times in run defense but it is hard to see how the Falcons will consistently exploit the ‘Cats in this area as Bowling Green comes into the contest averaging just 3.2 yards per carry and their leading rusher, Terion Stewart, was injured last week.
If Bowling Green has success running the ball, it figures to go through freshman Nick Mosely, who racked up 94 yards on the ground last week after replacing Stewart.
Except for the 35-23 loss to Toledo last week, the Bobcats have generally improved on both sides of ball for the better part of the MAC schedule and should have the juice to get this one done against an at-times stout Falcon defense and developing offense. This one could be close for the first half, but the mistakes which have plagued the Falcons this season, combined with the Bobcats overall experience and talent should help Ohio pull away in the second half, winning 38-20.