BOWLING GREEN - Sometimes the sequel, even with the same core group of characters, doesn't stack up to the original.
That's the way it has gone for the Bowling Green State University football team, which has been a blunder despite little turn over in personnel from last year's success story.
After Saturday's 16-13 loss at Northern Illinois, BG is in jeopardy of replicating the 2005 season when it failed to match expectations and missed a bowl game despite a roster full of talented and veteran players.
The Falcons (3-5, 1-3) have all but five starters back from last year's team that went 8-5 and shared the Mid-American Conference East title. With four games remaining, BG is tied for last in the East.
So if the players and coaches are essentially the same, what is different? Sophomore Nick Torresso thinks he has the answer.
"If I had to compare this year's team to last year's team, we have more talent on this team," said Torresso, a defensive tackle. "I think last year, people just bought in more. Everyone realized if we go down from here, there's no turning back, there's no rebounding from this."
Somehow, despite a rocky start to the conference season, BG could potentially rebound and win the division. Entering Saturday's home contest against Kent State, the Falcons trail East-leading Akron by just one game. Should it be necessary, BG holds the tiebreaker over Akron based on the Falcons head-to-head win on Oct. 11.
"I don't think we can afford another loss," coach Gregg Brandon said. "It's a one-game season right now. We need to be 1-0 after Saturday.
Kent (2-6, 1-3) is coming off of a 54-21 thrashing of Miami on Saturday in Oxford. The Flashes marched their way to 305 rushing yards, which doesn't exactly bode well for a BG defense that had a heck of a time combating NIU's rushing attack in the second half.
The Huskies had scoring drives of 17 and 16 yards and passed the ball just three times in the final two quarters. As a result, BG lined up for just 43 offensive plays and struggled to move the ball in those minimal opportunities.
Brandon said quarterback Tyler Sheehan's starting job is safe despite Sheehan throwing for just 92 yards in the loss. Andrew Beam, a junior college transfer brought in to be Sheehan's backup, has played in just two games and has yet to throw a pass. Still, Brandon does not seem anxious to see what he has in Beam.
"Andrew's our backup quarterback, and Tyler's the starter," Brandon said. "Until something indicates that's going to change, then I don't see that changing. Tyler right now gives us the best chance to win."
NOTES: Freddie Barnes and Willie Geter, both with knee injuries, will miss Saturday's game. Defensive end Diyral Briggs did not start against NIU but finished with seven tackles. Briggs was undergoing a punishment of sorts for committing two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties a week earlier. Sinisa Vrvilo has made five consecutive field goals after making just two of his first eight on the season.
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