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2016 MAC Football Preview: Miami RedHawks vs. Bowling Green Falcons

Can the RedHawks sustain their momentum against a struggling Falcon squad?

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about a game that lost some of its luster from the preseason.

Both the Miami RedHawks and Bowling Green Falcons enter Saturday’s contest at Doyt Perry Stadium 1-6 on the season, with Miami finally getting into the win column last week with an 18-14 triumph over Kent State while BGSU has dropped five straight games following its 27-26 win over North Dakota. The game Saturday could prove to be a pivotal game in the MAC East race, depending on how things shake out for Akron and Ohio down the stretch.

The biggest thing for the RedHawks this week is the steady play of Gus Ragland, who accounted for 220 yards of total offense and two passing touchdowns against a stingy Golden Flashes defense in his first start of 2016 since getting injured in spring ball. Ragland isn’t a quarterback that’ll wow you with his throwing ability (10 of 21 last week) but he’s an older kid (redshirt sophomore) that will manage the game and take good care of the football.

Meanwhile, the Miami defense has been on an absolute tear since entering MAC play as it is first in the league with 252.7 yards allowed and third with 22 points allowed per game since entering conference play. In those three games, the unit has caused problems for teams with 27 tackles for loss, six sacks, and and three interceptions. Junior McMullen has been the man in the middle all season long with 50 total tackles and five TFLs (both marks are second on the team.

Bowling Green has had a tough go of it recently as it lost its last three games by one possession as freshman quarterback James Morgan has been cutting his teeth as a starter with 1,041 yard with 57.7% passes complete, eight touchdowns, eight interceptions, 5.5 yards per attempts and eight sacks. The running game for the Falcons is pretty consistent this season with 162 yards per game in MAC play, so the offense hasn’t been the problem at BGSU.

The defense, however, hasn’t improved much in league play as it has allowed 14 touchdowns in MAC games (tied with Central Michigan and Northern Illinois for the most). The pass defense has really let the team down with conference opponents completing 73% of throws for 787 yards and eight TDs. The lone bright spot for the unit is lineman Gus Schwieterman, who leads the team with seven TFLs and three sacks on the season.

Saturday’s game has the potential to be huge in the MAC as Miami would like to keep rolling and keep its very outside chance of winning the East alive while Bowling Green has a tough slate coming up, with consecutive games at Akron and at NIU on the docket. The match-up to watch will be the RedHawk offense versus the Falcon defense. The Red and White’s defense will give the offense some chances, but Ragland has to be able to make plays in the passing game in order for the ‘Hawks to win. On the flip side, BGSU has to keep Miami one-dimensional and get a pass rush without blitzing. It’ll look to be an entertaining contest in what’s been called The Bottom 25 Game of the Century of the Week.