BOWLING GREEN - The official “line” on the Bowling Green-Missouri football game had the Tigers favored at home Saturday night by two touchdowns. But what the oddsmakers failed to factor into their calculations tweaked that line considerably.
The Falcons were 20-13 winners over Missouri in Columbia for a lot of reasons, but none was likely bigger than the way they dominated the line - the line of scrimmage that is.
Playing its first game under new coach Urban Meyer, BG pushed its Big 12 opponent around all night, and if it was not for nine penalties and some serious place-kicking problems, the Falcons likely would have turned around that two-touchdown spot and laid it on their hosts.
“On the line, we couldn't move the ball,” Missouri center A.J. Ricker said. “I don't feel like we prepared like we were playing Nebraska. We took Bowling Green lightly, and you can see what happened.”
BG pounded out 342 yards of offense, including 194 on the ground. On defense, the Falcons held Missouri to just 76 rushing yards in 28 attempts. Missouri's offensive line started four seniors - and BG just pushed them around.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who took over in Columbia this year after 10 seasons at the University of Toledo, was not buying the favorite tag his team wore into the game.
“I don't believe in upsets,” Pinkel said. “They outplayed us.”
BG's offensive line featured two players - guards Andrew Hart and Scott Mruczkowski - who were taking part in their first college game. Senior captain Malcolm Robinson anchored the group at one tackle, with junior Dennis Wendel at the other tackle and junior Jon Mazur at center.
That quintet paved the way for a rushing game that was superior to anything BG accomplished all of last season when it was at the bottom of the Mid-American Conference in productivity.
“If you watched this team last year, it was a team that finished last (in the conference) in total offense,” Meyer said. “They're facing a Big 12 team, and when it came down to it, we could run the ball. I don't know if we threw the ball very well, but we ran the ball.”
And ran it well, indeed. The Falcons put together two 80-yard touchdown drives against Missouri, their new spread-out, shotgun offense humming along with precision. It was nothing too fancy, but it blended the pass in often enough to keep Missouri guessing, and it worked. Andy Sahm threw a five-yard touchdown pass to David Bautista for BG's first score, and Missouri never got to the BG quarterbacks, who were sacked 51 times last season.
“Sometimes (the holes) weren't there,” said junior tailback Joe Alls, who scored the winning touchdown on a two-yard run with 3:40 to play. “But our scheme is just to keep pounding and pounding and it's going to open up, and that's exactly what it did. So the key was for me to continue to just run hard.”
Alls had 107 rushing yards on the night, including a 31-yard scamper on a third-and-one play from the Missouri 43 with about 11 minutes left in the game and BG trailing 13-7. That run set the Falcons up at the Tigers' 12, and John Gibson hammered into the end zone two plays later to tie the game 13-13.
Alls, who never came close to a 100-yard game last season, tipped his hat to that offensive front that carried BG to two fourth-quarter TD drives that made the difference.
Alls, who heard the “Big 12 rejects” taunts from the Missouri crowd when Bowling Green took the field, said the official line meant nothing to the Falcons.
“I think this win gives a lot of respect to the MAC,” Alls said. “I think it shows that the MAC is not a weak conference.”