I said it about 3 months ago in a tweet and I will say it again, I fully believe that Bowling Green can compete with the mighty Florida Gators. I actually have them beating Florida, because I know that they are capable of it.
With that being said, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is arguably the toughest venue to play at in college football, the Gators are indeed an SEC program, and Florida is ranked in the top 25. Bowling Green on the other hand, is a team that plays in the much less talked about, MAC Conference. They are a team that didn’t make a bowl game last year, and they are only a few years removed from a 2-10 season. So why do I think that BGSU can win?
I’ll give you my reasons:
1. Dave Clawson has been forced to play young players since he took over the program. He has since developed those young players, and now BGSU is almost returning their entire starting lineup from last season. Experience in a game like this is huge. And although BGSU might not have a whole lot of seniors, they do have players that have multiple years worth of experience.
2. Matt Schilz. Schilz is now in his third season under center. He threw for over 3K yards last season and tossed 28 touchdowns. If you want any chance at winning on the road in an environment like this, you need an experienced QB who is not afraid to make plays. Schilz is a guy who was committed to a Big 12 school early on in his recruiting process. He can play with any team in the country and he can make any throw. I love Matt Schilz and I think he is going to have a monster season.
3. The running game. Clawson has said it all spring and all fall long, the running backs are the biggest strength of this team. Anthon Samuel was the MAC Freshman of the year last season, and if it wasn’t for an injury, he would have ran for over 1K yards. Jamel Martin, Andre Givens and John Pettigrew will also contribute in this game (Jordan Hopgood is suspended). If we can establish the running game, we will be able to slow the game down and control the clock. This will then open things up for Schilz to make some plays with his arm.
4. Week one upsets seem to happen a lot in college football. I would bet you that a good majority of the people in Gainesville didn’t even know that Bowling Green was a college up until the schedule was released, some still might not know who we are. Florida will probably be looking forward to their week 2 SEC opener against Texas A& M, and Florida still has no starting QB set. They plan on playing two guys. Florida’s offense was awful last season, and hopefully both QB’s try to do too much and make mistakes. I expect their offense to be a little out of sink early on, hopefully BG can force some turnovers.
5. I really like our defense. We have a lot of potential All-MAC performers in Chris Jones, Dwayne Woods, Paul Swan and BooBoo Gates. Freshman Will Watson is also going to be a great player and their are a handful of other players who can make plays. I really believe that BG will have the best defense in the MAC this year.
6. Brian Schmiedebusch and BooBoo Gates on special teams. Schmiedebusch is the best punter in the country. That may be a little bias, but he is at least top 5. His numbers did indeed have him ranked as the number 5 punter last season (He was only a Sophomore). If BG ever gets stuck deep in their territory (which is a good possibility) and they need to flip the field, or if they ever need to pin the Gators in deep in their zone, Schmieddebusch will be able to do both. He can punt the ball 50+ yards easy, and just this past week at BG’s second scrimmage, I saw him punt the ball at about the 50 and it was downed at the one-yard line. BooBoo Gates is one of the better returners in the country, hopefully he can take one back.
7. I think Clawson has some tricks up his sleeve. BG isn’t known for their trick plays, but don’t be surprised if you see some on Saturday. Even if only a few connect, it could be the difference in the game. BG should use everything in the book, and I think that they will. They can be very unpredictable and try anything and everything, which can be a very dangerous weapon.
8. Je’Ron Stokes and Chris Gallon. A 4-Star WR recruit and a transfer from the University of Michigan, Je’Ron Stokes will be making his debut for the Falcons in this game. Clawson has said that none of the receivers have separated themselves, but this may be a little bit of gamesmanship. Yes BG is unexperienced at this position, with Shaun Joplin being the only player to have caught a pass for the team, but there is still a lot of talent here. Stokes can be only of the best WR’s in the MAC this year and Gallon is a stud. He is a 6-4 freshman whose potential is off the charts. He was the best player on the field in BG’s last scrimmage. He has the size to go up and make a catch, and he is so smooth when running routes and catching balls. By his senior year, he might be the best player in the conference. The receivers are being portrayed as the team’s weakest point. But don’t be surprised if they step up huge for this game. Schilz can really sling it and these guys CAN catch the ball. Most mid-major schools are not supposed to be able to pass the ball and put up points in a hurry, but BG can. I think the Gators will be surprised and hopefully caught off guard with how talented this offense can be.
9. Improved O-Line and Alex Bayer. Our O-Line will be solid this year, Clawson will attribute to that as well. This will allow our talented backs to get up the field. Alex Bayer is one of the best tight ends in the conference and he is going to be huge in this game. His blocking has improved and his hands are phenomenal. He is roommates with Schilz and the two have a tight bond. Bayer is a guy with a lot of experience and will be a familiar sight for Schilz, which will be important for the new receivers. If Bayer makes a few big plays early, hopefully the WR’s start to loosen up.
With all this being said, Florida is a more talented team. Their defense is great and they are probably deeper than us as well. But don’t be surprised at all if this one stays close. If we can just make a couple huge plays, we might just be able to steal this one.
GO FALCONS, BEAT FLORIDA