MT. PLEASANT, Mich. - For Bowling Green's Urban Meyer, it was one of the easier decisions in his two years as a head coach. After Central Michigan had stormed back from a 31-7 deficit in the third quarter and closed to within 31-21 by the time the quarter ended, Meyer needed no deliberation about what to do next.
Bowling Green needed to control the ball, deflate CMU's momentum, and it needed to score.
“Every time we talked about it over the head sets, we said give the ball to Number Five,” Meyer said.
“When Josh Harris scores on that last drive that put us up three scores, that was all heart,” Meyer said.
Harris, upset with himself after the Falcons produced fewer than 40 yards of offense in the third quarter, asked his coach to let him handle it.
“I told coach to give me the ball,” Harris said. “I didn't like the way we had been playing in the third quarter, and the fact we hadn't put them away. I wanted to do something.”
Harris had touchdown runs of 2 and 23 yards in the final quarter, each time stretching the lead to 17 points after CMU had cut it to 10.
“When a guy like Josh Harris comes over and says give me the ball, you don't have to be a very good coach to give him the ball,” Meyer said.
Harris finished with 138 yards rushing on 22 carries and three touchdowns. He passed for 176 yards and another score.
“Josh Harris is such a dangerous threat that it is almost impossible to contain a player like that,” CMU head coach Mike DeBord said. “Today, we struggled to contain him.”
INJURIES CONTINUE: Before the Central Michigan game, Meyer voiced concern over depth problems, and indicated that BG was especially vulnerable on the offensive line and in the secondary. Bowling Green got hit at both positions early yesterday. Defensive back Jason Morton aggravated a strained hip and left the game. Offensive tackle James Williams injured his knee on BG's second series. Morton was replaced by freshman Terrill Mayberry, and Williams was replaced by redshirt freshman Jonathan Culp. Junior defensive lineman Rick Mauer suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter.
Bowling Green went into the game minus six first-unit players. Tight end Craig Jarrett, defensive lineman Will Teague and offensive linemen Rob Warren and Andrew Hart are all out for the year.
Starting tailback Joe Alls and starting safety Michael Malone suffered separated shoulders in last week's game with Ohio and neither played yesterday.
BACK AT CMU: Yesterday's game marked Bowling Green's first football trip to Mount Pleasant since 1995, when the Chippewas took a 22-16 win over a Falcon team coached by Gary Blackney. Since the MAC went to divisional play in 1997, the Falcons have played Central Michigan just once before yesterday. The Falcons won 31-7 at Perry Stadium in 1999.
OLD FRIENDS: Meyer and DeBord were on the staff at Colorado State in the early 1990s and have remained close friends.