In our two previous blog posts, we've discussed topics surrounding BG's offense and defense. I argued in favor of Tyler Sheehan retaining his starting job at quarterback, and I stressed that the defense's strong outing in the spring was in fact representative of what we should see this season. For the final installment of our mid summer football preview, let's tackle some miscellaneous subjects.
How many non-conference games will BG win?
One or two, probably one. Unlike in years past, there is no opponent BG can't beat. There's no Ohio State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma or Boston College. But there is a good Boise State team that won big the last time it hosted BG. A trip to Pittsburgh doesn't look too promising for the Falcons either. But games at home against Minnesota and on the road at Wyoming are winnable. Mark me down for a win over the Gophers on Sept. 6. But on the road, in a different time zone, against a decent Wyoming squad, could be tough.
What are BG's most important games?
At home versus Miami and on the road at Toledo. For starters, those are rivalry games, so they are big enough as it is. But the RedHawks seem to stand the best chance of beating BG in the East, so the Oct. 18 game at Perry Stadium could determine who represents the division in the MAC championship game. The Rockets, meanwhile, could potentially ruin BG's title chances with a win at the Glass Bowl on Nov. 28.
Why will BG win the East?
First and foremost, BG has a very favorable schedule. No Central Michigan. No Western Michigan. No Ball State. You can't ask for much more. In the East, Miami and Kent State visit Perry Stadium, and presently the Falcons should be favored to win all of their MAC road games. Additonally, BG has a proven quarterback, a veteran coach, and a defense that will improve. It's hard to pick against the Falcons in the East.
Is it MAC title or bust for the Falcons?
No, but anything less than a bowl game berth would be a major disappointment. I'm not one to say a team must win a league title for its season to be a success. That's not fair because you can't predict injuries or bad breaks, and besides ... winning a title is tough. Moreover, the Falcons will probably have to beat a tough Central Michigan team at Ford Field to win the MAC title. To illustrate how difficult it is to win the MAC, just remember than none of those good BG's teams from the early 2000s were able to get it done.
Which team needs to step it up and schedule some big boys?
Ball State. Here's who the Cardinals face out of conference: Northeastern, Navy, Indiana and Western Kentucky. Do better, guys.
Who will be the surprise of the MAC?
Toledo. The Rockets recruit as good as anyone in the conference, so the talent is obviously there. I also like UT's league schedule, which includes home games against Ball State, Central Michigan, Miami and Bowling Green. UT is 35-6 at the Glass Bowl during the Tom Amstutz regime.
Who might be overrated?
Ball State. The Cardinals benefitted last year in two big ways. They led the MAC in turnover margin a stat that is difficult to predict from year to year and in penalty yards by the opponent. Also, if I'm a BSU fan I'm not thrilled about playing road games against Toledo, Miami and Central Michigan.
Predictions for BG's season:
At Pittsburgh, Loss
At Boise State, Loss
At Wyoming, Loss
Eastern Michigan, Win
At Akron, Win
At Northern Illinois, Win
Kent State, Win
At Ohio, Win
At Toledo, Win
Overall record: 8-4
MAC record: 7-1