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Bowling Green

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Bowling Green took a quick fall from relevance in Mike Jinks’s first season, but that’s what happens when you lose a stud quarterback. Not many things went right for the Falcons last season as they struggled on both sides of the ball and finished with four wins, three of them coming against weaker competition at the end of the year. A bowl game is the hope this year, but only four or five wins may be on the slate again.

Quarterback James Morgan will at least have more experience after getting his number called early in 2016 when James Knapke couldn’t get anything going. Morgan started the last eight games of the year and finished with 16 TDs, but also 15 INTs. He should improve on those numbers due to a receiving core that remains intact from stand out Scott Miller (968 yards, 10 TDs) to Teo Redding and transfer Datrin Guyton. The running game loses its stud, but will have a competent duo with Josh Cleveland (649 yards) and Donovan Wilson (503 yards, 5 TDs) a nice one-two punch. But still, the line was an issue last year and could be again even with three starters returning. This offense should be better, but if the line doesn’t improve, it still may not be good enough.

And to reach a bowl game, the defense will have to do much better than allowing 38.3 points per game. With only five starters back, nothing is guaranteed. Yes, the defense improved late in the season, but that’s mostly due to schedule as they gave up 40 points in the three games prior to winning their final three. The line returns two starters, but linebacker is where they could take a hit with their best defender gone (Austin Valdez). Brandon Harris steps into a bigger role, while underperforming seniors are set to fill the other linebacker spots. The secondary should be better after getting gashed by injuries a season ago. Throw in Jamari Bozeman at safety and the unit may be a strong suit in the conference.

The problem for Bowling Green is that three of its first four games are on the road against difficult competition so a losing record is expected out of the gates. Nothing is certain on the schedule, but home games against Akron and Northern Illinois need to be wins. And to reach a bowl, it may require the Falcons to win a trio of road games at weaker competition in Kent State, Buffalo and EMU. Otherwise, they’ll need to find a big home upset somewhere on the schedule, which may be a little more difficult against Toledo or Ohio.

If Morgan took the needed step in the offseason to improve, the offense should be better with a solid range of weapons. However, if the defense can’t figure things out, the Falcons may be on the outside looking in at a bowl game yet again with five wins the likeliest scenario, although their over/under is set at four (at 5Dimes). Their odds to win the conference at 5Dimes Sportsbook were +3300, placing them ahead of only three other teams.


2017 Bowling Green Falcons Football Schedule

Sept. 2 at Michigan State
Sept. 9 vs. South Dakota
Sept. 16 at Northwestern
Sept. 23 at Middle Tennessee

Sept. 30 vs. Akron
Oct. 7 at Miami (OH)
Oct. 14 vs. Ohio

Oct. 21 vs. Northern Illinois
Oct. 31 at Kent State
Nov. 7 at Buffalo
Nov. 15 vs. Toledo
Nov. 21 at Eastern Michigan

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