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Published: Saturday, 10/4/2008

BG not lacking for motivation

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - On the flight home following a convincing win at Wyoming last Saturday, virtually every TV inside Bowling Green State University's team plane was tuned in to Alabama's rout of No. 3 Georgia.

The Bulldogs became the ninth Top 25 team to lose in the week, joining the likes of Southern California, Florida and Wisconsin.

What does this mean for BG? Nothing really. Except given the unpredictable results of this early college football season, the Falcons won't have much of an excuse for overlooking Eastern Michigan today.

The Eagles have lost four straight - none of which were competitive games - entering a 4 p.m. meeting today with BG at Perry Stadium.

EMU's defense has been overwhelmed, its two quarterbacks are battling injuries, and its coach is running out of chances to bring promise to a program that hasn't had a winning season since 1995.

It's no wonder BG chose to coincide this game with its homecoming festivities.

But the Falcons are publicly behaving cautiously, not wanting to attract the upset epidemic that has already struck some of the most talented teams in the country.

BG (2-2) will be playing its first Mid-American Conference game of the season.

"All our guys have to do is turn on last year's game and that should be enough motivation to come out ready to play," BG coach Gregg Brandon said.

With bowl game implications weighing heavily, BG struggled to a 39-32 win last November in Ypsilanti. Turnovers and penalties nearly costly the Falcons until Sean O'Drobinak knocked down a fourth-down pass on Eastern's final drive.

The Eagles finished 4-8 and beat MAC champion Central Michigan in the final week. Many outsiders anticipated that momentum to carry over into the new season.

"Eastern snuck up on us last year and almost knocked us off up at their place," BG quarterback Tyler Sheehan said. "I think that will help us focus on the task at hand."

Eastern's quarterback situation is cloudy. Usual starter Andy Schmitt and his backup Kyle McMahon are both hurt and details of their availability were not known when EMU coach Jeff Genyk addressed the media Monday morning. McMahon started in last week's 37-0 loss to Northern Illinois before going down early. Schmitt wasn't 100 percent healthy but replaced McMahon and completed 21 of 37 passes for 140 yards.

Concerning BG's injuries, Anthony Turner could miss his second straight game with a separated shoulder.

EMU (1-4, 0-2) has been outscored 171-51 in the four games since it beat Indiana State, 52-0, in the season opener. Toledo stomped the Eagles 41-17 on Sept. 13 in Ypsilanti.

"Their record is deceiving," Brandon said. "They've lost four straight and they've not been exactly close games. But if you watch film they're turning the ball over. They're still playing hard. It's a MAC game and anything can happen in the MAC."

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com.



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