GAME NOTES: The Mississippi State Bulldogs will host a dangerous opponent as
the Bowling Green Falcons invade Davis Wade Stadium for a non-conference
Bowling Green coasted to a 28-7 decision over Massachusetts last week to
improve to 5-1 overall, including a perfect 3-0 mark versus Mid-American
Conference rivals. Dave Clawson's Falcons have played strong enough to
indicate they intend on making a run at the 2013 MAC Championship. Although
they were handed a lopsided, 42-10, loss by the Hoosiers at Indiana, the
Falcons have also notched impressive wins over Tulsa (34-7) and Kent State
The Bulldogs are one game below the .500 mark after their 59-26 home loss to
LSU last week. The setback lowered MSU to a 2-3 overall record and a
disheartening 0-2 Southeastern Conference standing. Although he is only in his
fifth season in command of the program, Dan Mullen has already become the
fourth-winningest coach in school history with a 31-25 record.
This will be the first meeting in history between these non-conference foes.
BGSU is 0-2 versus current members of the SEC. Under Mullen, the Bulldogs are
13-2 at home against non-conference foes and currently own a 12-game winning
streak in such contests.
Bowling Green did not have a high-powered attack last season during its 8-5
campaign. Due to the strong play of the defense, Clawson ran a conservative
offense that stressed ball control. The Falcons have developed some offensive
firepower to become a very balanced team. They are the second most productive
squad in the MAC with 480.8 yards of total offense per game and rank third in
the 13-team conference in scoring at 32.0 ppg. The renovations to the BGSU
attack has come courtesy of the Falcons' newest stars, QB Matt Johnson and RB
Johnson earned the starting job after igniting the offense off the bench in
the season opener. The redshirt sophomore wasted no time validated his coach's
decision as he was named the MAC East Offensive Player of the Week a few days
after his first career start. In a conference filled with talented signal
callers, Johnson ranks second in passing average (232.5 ypg) and has completed
a league-best 65.1 percent of his attempts with nine touchdowns to only three
interceptions. Shaun Joplin is the primary weapon in the passing attack. The
senior wide receiver has made 25 receptions for 413 yards through six games.
Johnson has done a great job of keeping opposing defenses guessing as eight
different players have contributed to the team's total of 10 touchdown
BGSU was expected to have trouble establishing its ground attack this season
after it lost its star halfback over the offseason when Anthon Samuel elected
to transfer to FIU. The Falcons have not missed a beat thanks to the sophomore
Greene, who is having a breakout season as the team's new primary tailback.
Greene continued to shine as he tallied a career-high 160 yards on 22 carries
to record his third consecutive game with at least 100 yards rushing. The
Falcons' newest workhorse ranks second in the MAC and 13th nationally with
118.5 yards rushing per game. Freshman running back William Houston is the go-
to-guy around the goal line which has led to seven rushing touchdowns just six
games into his career.
The Falcons are still one of the elite teams in the nation on the defensive
side of the ball. They lead the MAC in nine different team statistical
categories, including scoring defense (16.5 ppg), total defense (344.0 ypg)
and red zone defense at 47.1, which ranks second nationally. BGSU watched
opposing quarterbacks attempt 261 consecutive passes this season before Ryland
Ward registered the team's first interception of the campaign at UMass last
week. BGSU held the Minutemen to only 280 yards of total offense and only 15
first downs. D.J. Lynch has made 35 total tackles to lead the team that has
seven other players with at least 20 stops through six games.
BGSU has a tough test awaiting for it in Starkville. MSU held its own against
the nationally ranked Tigers through three quarters last week before allowing
31 consecutive points late in the 33-point loss. Sophomore quarterback Dak
Prescott showed is he much more valuable as a running threat than a passer as
he completed 9-of-20 pass attempts for just 106 yards and an interception
while gaining 103 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Prescott split snaps
under center with Tyler Russell, who went an efficient 7-of-11 from the pocket
for 146 yards. Russell also completed two touchdown passes to become the
program's all-time leader with 39 for his career.
Despite the losing record, the Bulldogs have put up decent numbers, amassing
32.4 ppg and 464.6 ypg. However, those averages were significantly bolstered
by MSU's overwhelmingly lopsided victories of Alcorn State (51-7) and Troy
(62-7). The Bulldogs have been held to only 16.3 ppg in their losses. The unit
received strong performances from three of its skill position players last
week against LSU. Jameon Lewis had a career-best performance with seven
receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown. De'Runnya Wilson came through with a
big play as he reeled in a 59-yard touchdown catch in the first half. LaDarius
Perkins rushed for 81 yards on only 10 carries.
MSU's defense played well through its first four games with only 14.8 points
allowed and 310 yards of total offense surrendered per game. It took a step
back last week as LSU compiled 563 yards of offense and scored more than four
times MSU's previous scoring defense average. Benardrick McKinney leads the
Bulldogs with 28 tackles and also has a fumble recovery to his credit.
Members of the MAC have been pulling off upsets of BCS conference schools at a
much higher frequency in recent years. BGSU is absolutely capable of defeating
MSU, but it will need to limit turnovers as field position could end up being
a huge factor. This is a very important game for the Bulldogs, who are well
aware of how difficult digging themselves out of a 2-4 hole will be against
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Mississippi State 34, Bowling Green 24