By James Nahikian
Bowling Green State University was a few missed field goals, a tipped pass, and a missed tackle away from knocking off an SEC powerhouse on Saturday afternoon. In fact, if they would have just secured a few of the above mentioned miscues, they would have probably won the game as well. Bowling Green was in the game for all four quarters, and in my opinion, was the better team.
It wasn’t anything that Florida did that won them the game. It was the opportunities that the Falcons didn’t take advantage of, that was the difference in the game. Which is pretty impressive if you think about it.
A MAC school went toe-to-toe with a program that has multiple championships (Both National and SEC), multiple Heisman trophy winners, arguably the most historic stadium in college football, multimillion dollar facilities, funding that is off the charts, and a plethora of 5-Star prospects to choose from. With all of that being said, It was the play of the Bowling Green quarterback that really caught my eye.
In my opinion, Matt Schilz is the best QB in the MAC Conference and one of the top 20 QB’s in the nation. If you watched the game, his demeanor defined the word, poised. All day long, he calmly directed his offensive line and snapped the ball with about five seconds on the play clock. Not an easy task, especially in one of the loudest stadiums in all of sports. Schilz maneuvered his offensive and gained 22 first downs on Saturday, against a defense that was ranked in the top 10 nationwide last season. Also a defense that returned almost their entire cast, and will yet again be one of the top defensive units across the land. Matt completed 24 passes and threw the ball almost 50 times against the Gators. He stood tall in the pocket and took hard shots throughout the entire game. These players he was getting knocked down by are no slouches either, these are guys that will be playing on Sundays.
And when Bowling Green was backed up to their one-yard line, coach Dave Clawson wasn’t afraid to let his veteran QB get them out of the dangerous territory with his arm. In an environment that BGSU was in yesterday, this is typically when you see coaches stay very conservative all game long. Especially if you are playing a team like Florida, and come from a mid-major conference. However, this is not the case with Bowling Green and their quarterback.
Yes, Matt Schilz plays for Bowling Green. A team in a much less talked about conference. A team in a very small market, and a team that probably many people have never heard of. However, Matt Schilz is not just a MAC talent. He could be playing for school that is currently nationally ranked and in a BCS conference. Schilz was committed to Kansas State while he was playing quarterback for Maranatha High School in California. But when the coach that recruited him left for Bowling Green, Schilz did the same and decided to play college football for the Falcons. Schilz, now a red shirt junior, started double digit games in both his freshman and sophomore years. The junior is now a captain and is coming off a season where he threw for over 3,000 yards and tossed 28 touchdowns. Schilz was tied for 1st in TD passes last season in the MAC, but has goals this year that go well beyond individual statistics.
Matt Schilz and Bowling Green want to win a MAC Championship. A feat that was last witnessed by this fan base two decades ago. Bowling Green showed Saturday afternoon that is a team that can compete with anyone in the country, and certainly a team that can win all of their games inside of their own conference. For Schilz, he will continue to stack up as one of the best quarterbacks in program history. Maybe not by what his final numbers may show, but by the championships and wins that he will bring over the next two seasons. Schilz is a quarterback that can throw the ball and pick apart any defense in college football. Don’t believe me? Watch him on September 22 on a nation stage again. As BGSU will play Virginia Tech, a team that competed in a BCS Bowl Game last season. I am certain that you will see a quarterback that is poised on every down, and a quarterback that can make every throw that a BCS quarterback can make.
Matt Schilz is my favorite athlete and Bowling Green is extremely lucky to have him.
For now, Schilz will remain in the MAC conference and stay locally known, something that the Arcadia native is just fine with.