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Published: Tuesday, 10/3/2006

BGSU trying to stay positive against OSU

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Gregg Brandon is trying to be as positive about this as possible.

Bowling Green State University, a team working to achieve consistency in conference play, goes out-of-league this week to play Ohio State, a team working to achieve perfection.

The Buckeyes' record against Mid-American Conference teams in Ohio Stadium proves the Falcons' task is almost an impossibility. OSU's 5-0 record pushes that theory even further.

But Brandon, BGSU's coach, prefers to look at Saturday as an opportunity. It's the first time in school history the Falcons will play the No. 1 team.

"We have a shot to play the No. 1-ranked team in the country," Brandon said. "If we take advantage of that, then good things will happen.

"It's a great opportunity to play against a great program [in] a great venue. I told our players this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime shot, to play a game like this."

The coaches' task this week is to prepare the Falcons (3-2) for the noisy atmosphere in Columbus. The roster's had almost full turnover since BGSU played at Ohio State in 2003, a 24-17 Buckeyes win.

"Only five players remain that went to Columbus in '03," Brandon said. "We're going to have to do a good job working on all the distractions that go along with playing in a venue like this with all our young players.

"Hopefully we can manage that, and it will give us a chance."

BRIGGS WINS HONORS: Sophomore defensive end Diyral Briggs won the MAC East defensive player of the week award yesterday. In the Falcons' win over Ohio on Saturday, Briggs had 3 1/2 tackles for losses, two sacks, and forced a fumble. He had seven tackles overall. It's the second time a BGSU player has won the award this year.

NAME GAME: Ohio State and BGSU both have starting cornerbacks named Antonio Smith. BGSU's Antonio Smith is a sophomore from Miami who started every game last season as a true freshman. The Buckeyes' Smith is a senior from Columbus, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship, and a starting spot, in the spring.

The Buckeyes' Smith (5-foot-9, 195 pounds) has had more of an impact this year. He returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown against Penn State and forced a fumble in the Iowa game. The Falcons' Smith (5-10, 175), hampered by an ankle injury for most of the year, has recorded one sack and recovered a fumble.

JONES LEAVES TEAM: Senior receiver Brandon Jones has voluntarily left the program, a BGSU spokesman said yesterday. Jones caught three passes for 33 yards this year, including a 25-yard touchdown reception in double overtime against Buffalo. He also returned seven kicks for an average of 20.6 yards.

STATS UPDATE: Five games in, BGSU is still among the national leaders in rushing offense, ranking 12th at 208 yards per game. The Falcons are also 12th in pass defense, allowing 147 yards per game in the air. Senior linebacker Terrel White ranks third in the country in tackles, averaging 11.75 per game.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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