A big thanks to Randy Carpenter (@randycarp on Twitter) for helping us preview Saturday's Bowling Green vs. Wisconsin game. Once again: Hustle Belt totally rocks, and you should definitely check it out for the top-notch MACTION. You can also follow them on Twitter @HustleBelt.
1. What's the feeling around Bowling Green entering this game? I imagine its fairly positive after that Indiana win.
It's much better than it was two weeks ago, that's for sure. Almost everyone had the Falcons making it back to the MAC championship game before the season started. Then, they laid a big-time egg in their opener at Western Kentucky on national TV and next got the horrible news that starting quarterback Matt Johnson would be lost for the season due to a hip injury suffered late in that game. The last two weeks have been medicinal for this team and its fan base, especially last week's big win over Indiana. People are back on the bandwagon thinking this team still has as legitimate shot at winning the weak MAC East division. The optimism centers around the Falcon offense, but so many questions are still unanswered about the defense.
2. What's the most important thing Wisconsin fans should know about Bowling Green's offense?
It's not much of a secret that the Falcons want to play fast on offense. They ran an incredible 113 offensive plays against Indiana. I don't think the Badgers' offense has run that many yet this year in both of their games combined? (Editor note: They have, surprisingly.) Redshirt sophomore James Knapke has taken over at quarterback, and he's not the playmaker Johnson was, especially outside of the pocket. But his performance against the Hoosiers showed he can be very effective in this offense. The Falcons have a nice duo at running back, and watch out for Travis Greene (No. 8). He's a converted wide receiver who ran for a school record 1,600-plus yards last season. He's not big and it's easy to underestimate him, but he simply makes people miss. The Falcons will line up almost exclusively in the shotgun, but they like to run the ball on offense. The Falcons have a deep and talented wide receiving core, led by true freshman Roger Lewis. Lewis was originally an Ohio State signee who ran into legal trouble and ended up at a prep school before enrolling at Bowling Green. He caught 16 balls for 149 yards against Indiana and he's the real deal.
3. Same question as above, but for the defense.
The Falcons won the MAC last year basically on the strength of their defense, which led the league in almost every defensive category imaginable. Six starters return from that unit and expectations were high for this year. However, the opener against the Hilltoppers exposed their deficiencies against the pass. Three of the starters from last year's unit were in the defensive backfield. It's apparent those guys are sorely missed. The guys starting in their place this year are experienced guys that have played a lot of football in nickel packages and on special teams in the past, but they aren't getting it done right now. I think a lot of it has to do with the scheme the new coaching staff has brought in with them. Last year, the Falcons played an attacking style of defense that created turnovers. This year, they seem to be happy just keeping plays in front of them and not giving up the home run. The strategy appears to be doing just enough on defense to allow the offense to outscore opponents. Their offense is good enough to beat most MAC teams that way, but not sure about against teams like Wisconsin and the better teams in the MAC?
4. Do you expect a sizable number of Bowling Green fans to make the trip to Madison for the game?
Sizeable? No! Yes, you'll have some real diehards that won't pass up a chance to experience the Jump Around at Camp Randall. I can't imagine you'll have more than a thousand or so Bowling Green fans making the trip. They'll be dressed in all orange and you'll be able to spot them in those great seats the Big Ten schools always provide for away teams. You know, the ones in the very upper deck in the corner of one of the endzones?
5. Do you have a prediction?
In 2005, I watched the Falcons come into Camp Randall and throw a real scare in the Badgers. That was probably one of the best offensive teams BG has ever had, and it featured a quarterback named Omar Jacobs. The Falcons took the lead into halftime before wearing down in the second half and eventually losing, 56-42. I expect something similar in this one, at least by the final score. The Falcons' offense will move the ball and put up some points on the Badgers, but they won't have enough for the long haul. Bowling Green has been battling numerous injuries and I think that its No. 1 goal is to come out of this game without further serious injuries so it can be ready to head into league play next week. I see the Badgers holding up the Big Ten's dignity this week by a score of 54-34.