Akron (1-3) at Bowling Green (3-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 28, 2:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Doyt Perry Stadium (24,000) -- Bowling Green, Ohio. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Akron 1-1, BGSU 2-0. Away Record: Akron 0-2, BGSU 1-1. Neutral Record: Akron 0-0, BGSU 0-0. Conference Record: Akron 0-0, BGSU 1-0. Series Record: BGSU leads, 12-7.
GAME NOTES: The Akron Zips will look to stop circling around a win and actually earning one when they face the Bowling Green Falcons in Mid-American Conference action at Doyt Perry Stadium on Saturday.
This game is the league opener for the Zips, who played a challenged non- conference schedule to say the least. In the last two weeks the Zips nearly upset No. 18 Michigan in Ann Arbor (28-24) and followed that up with a tough home loss against Louisiana (35-30). The Zips are enter conference play at just 1-3.
Bowling Green has enjoyed a much stronger start to the year, although without facing similar competition. With a 48-7 victory over FCS foe Murray State this past weekend, Bowling Green improved to 3-1. That mark also includes a 1-0 ledger in the MAC as the Falcons routed Kent State, 41-22, on the road in its conference opener.
Last season when these teams met, Bowling Green scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to capture a 24-10 victory. The win was the 12th in 19 total matchups for the Falcons.
Kyle Pohl has been a bit erratic under center for the Zips this season. Pohl has completed better than 60 percent of his pass attempts, tossed seven touchdown passes and has thrown for over 300 yards in each of the last two games. However, he has also thrown six interceptions, which is the second most among MAC quarterbacks.
Where Pohl has been consistent is in making sure to utilize all of his weapons. There are three different receivers who have brought in at least 10 passes and five who have totaled more than 100 yards. Zach D'Orazio (15 receptions, 231 yards, four TDs) has been the primary target while Fransohn Bickley (11 receptions, 140 yards), L.T. Smith (eight receptions 166 yards) and Andrew Pratt (six receptions, 142 yards) have been big play threats.
In the backfield Jawon Chisolm has been just as important when running the ball (199 yards, TD) as in the passing game (14 receptions, 111 yards). Conor Hundley has picked up 149 yards on 34 carries as an alternate running back.
Altogether Akron has been a rather mediocre offensive squad in comparison to the rest of the MAC. The Zips rank sixth in the league in both scoring (24 ppg) and total offense (369.8 ypg).
Akron hasn't been producing at a very strong level on defense. Akron is surrendering 464.8 yards and 33.5 points per game on the defensive side of the ball, ranking in the bottom half of the MAC in both categories.
Nico Caponi has been a solid pass rusher with a team-leading three sacks. Meanwhile Malachi Freeman (27 tackles) and Justin March (26) are each recording better than six stops per game.
It was an offensive show for Bowling Green against Murray State. The Falcons compiled 32 first downs, 660 total yards and scored touchdowns on all seven trips in the red zone. Although those numbers were far above the Falcons' average output, Bowling Green has still been one of the stronger offensive squads in the MAC. By scoring 33.2 points and picking up 510.2 yards per game the Falcons rank third and second, respectively, in each category.
Leading the charge for the Falcons on offense is quarterback Matt Johnson. The redshirt sophomore has completed 64.9 percent of his pass attempts for an even 1,000 yards and four scores, although he has been intercepted three times. Johnson can also make plays with his legs as he is second on the team with 119 yards on the ground.
Johnson has had the benefit of being able to hand off to Travis Greene, who has piled up 409 yards and two scores on 74 carries this season. Greene is currently one of just three players in the MAC to be averaging more than 100 rushing yards per contest.
In terms of receiving options, Johnson has a solid group to choose from. Shaun Joplin is a a big-play threat as he is averaging 17.2 yards per receptions for a team-high 310 yards on 18 receptions. Chris Gallon (20 receptions, 194 yards, two TDs), Alex Bayer (13 receptions, 154 yards) and Ryan Burbrink (nine receptions, 179 yards, TD) are fine options as well.
Though the offense has been the main source of success for the Falcons, they have been solid on defense as well. In fact, in comparison to the rest of the MAC, Bowling Green has been dominant, leading the league in scoring defense (19.5 ppg) and total defense (372.0 ypg).
Kendall Montgomery and Taylor Royster each have a pair of sacks to form a solid pass rushing duo, while D.J. Lynch (25 tackles), BooBoo Gates (21) and Paul Swan (20) are the top tacklers.
Based on statistics alone, Bowling Green is the class of the MAC through the first three weeks. Akron will present a challenge with the confidence it is gaining against superior competition. However, Johnson and the Falcons are the more balanced team and have the edge at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 34, Akron 24
09/25 10:36:12 ET