The Bowling Green Falcons (7-5, 4-3 MAC East) have discovered their bowl destination, packing their bags for the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, Michigan. where they’re set to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-7, 3-6 Big Ten) of the Big Ten Conference.
The Falcons were one of the MAC ‘s pleasant surprises in 2023, improving upon an already stifling defense and special teams while finding steady play from the offense en route to securing their first guaranteed winning season since BG’s historic 2015 campaign.
BG’s unique two-quarterback system wasn’t earth-shattering by any stretch, but it was at the least not a net negative, with 185.4 yards per game on average, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions (though it should be noted a lot of those turnovers were early on in the season.) The offense relies on their running game, with a stable of three running backs who all have differing skills to offer. Overall, the Falcons are 85th in the FBS in rushing offense, with 142.2 yards per run (a 4.1 yard per play average), scoring 20 touchdowns on the ground.
Part of the reason why the total offensive numbers seem relatively low despite such efficiency? It’s because BGSU is one of the best defenses at generating turnovers, sitting atop the NCAA in turnovers gained (27), with 16 interceptions and 11 recovered fumbles. They’re a gambling side, and so far, everything has come up diamonds for the group, as they’re also a fairly stiff unit on the field as-is, allowing 329.8 yards per game (30th in the NCAA.)
The Falcons are set to face the Golden Gophers, who enter Bowl Season as the lone team with a losing record to be selected.
Minnesota has played a MAC team already in 2023, taking down Eastern Michigan 26-6 back in early September, utilizing a stiff defense to hold the Eagles at arm’s length. That’s been the Gophers’ calling card over most of the season, ranking 56th in the NCAA with 373.8 yards per game allowed on average. The offense has struggled immensely, however, with 302 total yards per game on average (122nd in NCAA).
Their marquee win of the campaign was a 12-10 rock fight over a then-undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes squad on Oct. 21 to move to 4-3 on the season. The second half of the season was not as kind, as Minnesota lost four of their last five games games to fall out of the six-game threshold. They eventually qualified by Academic Progress Rate (APR) after the number of eligible teams did not match the number of eligible bowl slots.
This will be Minnesota’s third time in the last decade playing in Detroit on Christmas Weekend, as they were previously selected in 2015 (vs. Central Michigan) and 2018 (vs. Georgia Tech.)
The Quick Lane Bowl is scheduled for Dec. 26, with kickoff at 2 p.m. Eastern time