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Published: Thursday, 10/4/2012

Improved Akron team returns to Bowling Green's schedule

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN — Akron won just one Mid-American Conference football game the last two seasons.

But that didn’t help fellow East Division member Bowling Green State University one bit.

“Unfortunately, when they were winless and the worst team in the MAC, we didn’t play them,” BG coach Dave Clawson said. “We always joked that, by the time Akron got back on our schedule, they would be good. And that’s what happened.”

Well, the Zips are back on the Falcons’ schedule, as the two teams meet Saturday at InfoCision Stadium for a 2 p.m. kickoff. And while Akron’s record stands at 1-4 overall and 0-1 in league play, Clawson’s prediction seems about right.

The Zips used a high-powered offense to claim a win over Morgan State, then gave Tennessee a battle. Last Saturday Akron fell just short in a 56-49 loss to Miami, a team that beat the Zips 35-3 the year before.

But don’t tell Akron coach Terry Bowden about moral victories.

“We’re just trying to win our first game,” he said. “We just want to get better. We have to fight hard and see if we can win a play, win a series, then win a game.”

“If we continue to improve and continue to play well, we’re going to catch up with this conference. We’re going to try to get back into the dance and reach a point where we have a chance to win every game.”

Clawson said the addition of Bowden, who coached at Auburn from 1993-98 and then spent 10 seasons on television, has been part of the reason for the Zips’ revival.

“Even the last two years, when they were struggling, we felt Akron was recruiting good players,” Clawson said. “You could tell their personnel was getting better.

“I think Coach Bowden brought some energy and infused some life into the program. He has done a great job of jump-starting [the program].”

It helps that senior quarterback Dalton Williams has sparked the offense as well. Williams has completed 63 percent of his passes this season and has thrown for 1,689 yards and 14 touchdowns in five games.

“Their quarterback, Dalton Williams, is playing at a very high level,” Clawson said. “He’s very efficient, he gets rid of the ball quickly, and he’s got a number of good receivers who are dangerous after the catch.

“This is going to be a great challenge for our defense.”

The problem for the Zips is that, while they have scored 193 points in five games, the opposition has scored 206. Bowden said some of his team’s problems defensively, especially last week against Miami, may have come from trying to do too much.

“We couldn’t get lined up Saturday — I don’t think we ever got lined up comfortably,” he said. “We were always late to the ball and late to the receiver.

“We may be trying to do too much. We may just have to let them play football and see how good they can play.”

INJURY UPDATE: Many of BG’s injured receivers are expected to return on Saturday. Clawson said Shaun Joplin is healthy, and both Heath Jackson and Ryan Burbrink are expected to play.

The defensive line, which already has lost Jairus Campbell and Hunter Maynard to season-ending injuries, took another blow when Ted Ouellet left the practice field Wednesday with what appeared to be a broken nose. Clawson said he expects Ouellet to play Saturday.

Jordan Hopgood also was not on the field for practice Wednesday, but Clawson said he expects Hopgood to be available for the game against the Zips.

CCHA preseason polls have BG 8th, 9th

BOWLING GREEN — For the first time in four seasons the Bowling Green hockey team was not picked to finish last in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association preseason polls.

The league's 11 coaches said the Falcons would tie with Northern Michigan for eighth. The media who covered the league had BG in ninth place.

The coaches poll predicted Notre Dame would win the title with 105 points, including seven first-place votes, followed closely by Michigan (100, two first-place votes), and Western Michigan (97, two first-place votes).

The 87 media members polled said Michigan would win the title, followed by Western Michigan.

The Falcons open the season at 4:05 p.m. Saturday at Niagara, then return home to host Ontario Institute of Technology in an exhibition game at 5:05 p.m. on Sunday.



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