BOWLING GREEN — It's a good thing that the two football teams that will take the field Saturday at Perry Stadium are wearing different uniforms.
The contrasting colors will be one of the few ways to tell Bowling Green State University apart from its opponent, Buffalo.
Both enter their Mid-American Conference opener with 1-3 records. Both come into the contest with a number of questions on offense, most notably what kind of play will they get from their quarterback and can they improve their running games. And both look to rely on defenses that must show consistency to earn a victory.
“Buffalo is where we are,” BG coach Dave Clawson said. “They had a tough non-conference schedule, just like we did. But once MAC play starts, we all start out undefeated.”
Kickoff for the Falcons' homecoming game is set for 3:30 p.m.
The Bulls' biggest problems in their first four games have focused on their offense, particularly a run game that has yet to produce a touchdown and a passing attack that has nearly as many interceptions (seven) as touchdowns (eight).
“We threw five touchdowns [last week at Connecticut] – but the problem was only three went to our guys,” Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn said. “It's not always about [quarterback Jerry Davis]. He's doing some solid things, but we need our line, our backs, and receivers, to help him out, too.”
BG isn't sure of its quarterback situation, as Clawson said Wednesday that the availability of starter Matt Schilz will be a game-time decision. Quinn said no matter which QB his team faces, he knows his secondary must perform well for his defense to succeed.
“We know Bowling Green's wide receivers and running backs can get away from people in open space,” Quinn said. “They might pose some challenges for our defensive personnel.
“We need to worry about ourselves, being in the right place and making plays.”
The Bulls' backfield is led by Davonte Shannon, a three-time All-MAC first team safety who already has 31 tackles and an interception in his first four games.
“He's their feature player in the back-end,” Clawson said of Shannon. “They ask him to do a lot, and he can handle it. There were times against Connecticut that he was almost in the box as a linebacker.
“He is clearly the guy they are trying to spill the ball to, and he's the ‘free' hitter in a lot of their coverage packages. You have to account for him.”
While the two teams have similarities entering tomorrow's contest, Clawson was quick to point out that, in recent years, the two teams have gone separate ways following the game.
“Two years ago, the winner of this game [Buffalo] went on to play in the MAC Championship game,” Clawson said. “Last year the winner of this game [Bowling Green] got on a roll and went to a bowl game.”
Those two contests also were games that weren't decided until the final moments, with the visiting team earning the win on both occasions.
Two seasons ago BG led 27-7 with 13:09 left in the game, only to see the Bulls scored 20 unanswered points to push the game to overtime, where Buffalo claimed a 40-34 victory in the second extra period. Last year the Falcons trailed 29-16 entering the final quarter before Tyler Sheehan ran for one TD, then engineered a 75-yard, 11-play drive that was capped by a game-winning 18-yard scoring strike to Freddie Barnes with only 39 seconds to play.
GOLFER HONORED: Bowling Green junior golfer Drew Preston was named the Mid-American Conference golfer of the week.
Preston shot rounds of 70-69 to earn medalist honors at the John Piper Intercollegiate at Stone Ridge Golf Club. Preston was the only player to finish under par and helped the Falcons win the team title.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481.