BOWLING GREEN - It's a matchup of the walking wounded.
That's true literally and otherwise for Bowling Green State University, which likely will be without standout quarterback Omar Jacobs today against Akron at Perry Stadium at 4 p.m.
The Falcons (4-3, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) are also searching for answers to explain the meltdown that ensued after Jacobs left last week's loss against Western Michigan in the first quarter.
Akron, meanwhile, was shut out at home last week by an Army team that previously had the nation's longest losing streak at 11 games.
"It's going to be a battle of pride," BGSU nose guard Mike Thaler said.
Early in the season the Zips (3-4, 2-2) turned heads as a possible East division contender when they beat Northern Illinois in their conference opener. Although Akron is still in the division race, coach J.D. Brookhart said the team's play has been so problematic as of late that it has other things to worry about first.
"You can go in and look at the stats and say that we are playing for the MAC title, and that would be true mathematically, but that is not where we are at," Brookhart said. "We have to improve and I told the guys that."
Three weeks ago, Akron was scoreless against winless Buffalo going into the fourth quarter. Two weeks ago, the Zips let a close game with Miami balloon when the RedHawks scored an NCAA-record 21 points in 60 seconds.
But the Falcons aren't looking much at the Zips' poor performances. Their opponents' good games offer more insight.
"You want to look for what they can potentially do," Thaler said. "If you watch the Northern game, you know you can't take them lightly."
Redshirt freshman Anthony Turner will likely start for the Falcons after seeing his first major playing time last week. Brookhart said he saw Turner play in high school and he has the ability to lead the Falcons in Jacobs' absence.
"How can you not miss a kid who threw for 41 touchdowns last year, certainly you do," Brookhart said. "But I don't think it'll drop off much this week with the new kid."
The Falcon defense is perhaps the bigger question, as the unit ended a streak of giving up just one touchdown in each of three straight games with multiple breakdowns against the Broncos.
"I know that the team has enough talent to win," junior defensive end Devon Parks said. "It's just a matter of getting focused."
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