Monday, Sep 24, 2018
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3 keys to the game: Maryland at Bowling Green

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    Oregon running back Tony Brooks-James tries to fight off Bowling Green linebacker Brandon Harris.

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  • Texas-Maryland-Football-1

    Maryland wide receiver DJ Turner, right, rushes past Texas defensive lineman Malcolm Roach (32) and defensive back Kris Boyd last week.

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Bowling Green doesn’t get to welcome a Big Ten foe to Doyt Perry Stadium very often, but the Falcons get that chance Saturday when Maryland comes to town. The Terrapins were fired up in an opening win vs. then-No. 23 Texas, while Bowling Green made too many mistakes to stay with 24th-ranked Oregon in a 58-24 loss. Here are the factors that could determine whether an upset will be in the making in BGSU’s home opener.

1. Is BG’s defense ready for the challenge? The Falcons’ start at Oregon was perfect. The rest of the first half was … not. The Ducks’ barrage of points turned a 10-point BG lead into a four-score deficit in a flash, the deciding factor in the 58-24 final. Certainly the road environment played a role, but the Falcons will need better composure if and when they experience a Maryland surge Saturday.

As Falcons cornerback Marcus Milton said this week, BG must “control the chaos” and keep calm in the game’s tough moments. If the Falcons can disrupt Maryland’s offense enough, they’ll have a fighting chance to win the game.

2. Can the Falcons finish with 1 or 0 turnovers? Protection of the football, or lack thereof, played a major role in the Oregon game, as the Ducks turned three BG turnovers and a botched snap into 23 points. Bowling Green simply can’t make that many miscues and expect to beat a Power Five team like Maryland.

Alabama coach Nick Saban likes to say that he wants every drive to end in a kick — a punt, a field goal, or an extra point — and that philosophy should apply to the Falcons, who can’t afford to give Maryland many breaks.

3. Will the home crowd be a factor? Welcoming a Big Ten team to a home stadium is a rare occurrence for most MAC programs, and BG is aiming high with the chance. It’s Military Night at Doyt Perry Stadium, and the athletic department is asking all fans to wear white. The Falcons have a special white helmet they will debut with white jerseys and white pants for the Maryland game.

The Falcons will be hoping for a repeat of their most recent Big Ten home game: They topped Indiana 45-42 in 2014.

Contact Nicholas Piotrowicz at npiotrowicz@theblade.com, 419-724-6110 or on Twitter @NickPiotrowicz

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