Although most of the division is hypothetically still in the running, for most practical purposes the Bowling Green Falcons locked up the MAC East Division with their 27-10 win over the Akron Zips in a marathon game lasting nearly four hours.
Despite featuring teams that combine for an average of 56 points per game, the first half was a defensive battle. Heavy rain resulted in numerous dropped passes, while the wind blowing out of the south interfered with kicking. Kicking into the wind in the first quarter, Joe Davidson managed punts of just 27 and then 23 yards for the Falcons, while with the wind at his back, Robert Stein had the distance on a 51-yard field goal attempt for the Zips but the ball went wide left. By halftime the teams had combined for 401 yards, but Bowling Green took a measly 6-3 lead into the locker room.
After halftime, as Terry Bowden put it, "We blinked first." He acknowledged that the receivers "had a hard time holding the football because it was a wet, windy night," but at the same time, felt that Kyle threw several good passes that his receivers should have been able to catch or at least bat down, but which were intercepted. Bowling Green head coach Dino Babers gave credit to his young defensive backs: "Both of the freshmen did a great job. To come out and get three turnovers, for as young as they are and the stages that they are in their development, is really, really cool."
All three of Bowling Green's touchdowns came off Akron's second-half turnovers. Bowden addressed his team's ongoing turnover problem in his characteristic style, noting "You've got to make sure you don't lose games before you go out and win them."
Although he mentioned that it is something they'll have to look at closely in the game film, he seemed to place a good chunk of the blame on his receivers. "Two or three were the outside throws on the fade route where we throw jump balls. We want to win those. We tell our guy, if you can't catch it, don't let the other guy catch it...Two guys jump, and we've got 6'4" receivers...We're throwing balls that we don't expect to be interceptions in those situations...[Question: Were the receivers told to knock them down?] Well, you're supposed to catch them first. Yes, if they don't catch them, they should be able to [knock them down]."
Returning to action after two-and-a-half games off, Kyle Pohl completed 31 of 62 pass attempts for 304 yards, but threw three interceptions and no touchdowns. After the game he just one comment: "I have no excuses for how I played today." He flatly denied that rust was an issue in his performance tonight. Meanwhile for the Falcons, Fred Coppet and Andre Givens each rushed for more than 100 yards, but the players of the game were probably cornerback Nick Johnson, who nabbed two interceptions, and nose guard Taylor Royster, who scooped up two fumbles, including one for a touchdown.
To formally wrap up the division the Falcons need to win just any one of their final three games. In all likelihood they'll accomplish that next Wednesday against Kent State. Meanwhile the Zips will play at Buffalo next Tuesday, and need to win two of their last three games to reach bowl eligibility for the first time since 2005.