Oxford, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Bowling Green Falcons try to keep pace in the tight East Division race as they visit Yager Stadium for a Mid-American Conference matchup with the winless Miami-Ohio RedHawks.
The Falcons began their 2013 with just a single loss through their first six games, which left them one win shy of becoming bowl eligible for the second consecutive season. Bowling Green nearly picked up its sixth win in its non- conference final at Mississippi State on Oct. 12, but came up just short as it suffered a 21-20 loss to the SEC's Bulldogs. Coach Dave Clawson's team was defeated for the second time in a row in week nine when it dropped a 28-25 decision to Toledo, which also marked its first MAC loss of the campaign.
BGSU enters its bout with Miami tied with Ohio University for second place in the East Division as both are 3-1 through four league games. With the Bobcats squaring off with the first place Buffalo Bulls on Tuesday, the Falcons will either take over sole possession of second place or find themselves in a three-way tie at the top with a victory.
The RedHawks are still seeking their first win of the 2013 season after eight failed attempts. Miami was handed a 41-16 loss at Ohio its last time out, which marked the third appearance on the sidelines for interim head coach Mike Bath, who replaced Don Treadwell following the team's 21-9 home loss to Central Michigan. The RedHawks have lost 12 games in a row dating back to last season's 23-20 win versus Ohio on Oct. 27, 2012.
The good news for Miami is it owns a commanding 42-22-5 all-time series lead in its history versus BGSU. However, the Falcons are 3-1 versus the RedHawks under Clawson. They coasted to a 37-12 decision when Miami visited Doyt L. Perry Stadium last season.
Although BGSU is notorious for its relentless defense that paces the MAC in scoring defense (18.5 ppg) and total defense (357.2 ypg), the offense has been able to produce 451.5 total yards of offense per game to rank third in the league. The Falcons are posting just under 30 points per game on the season thanks to their elite rushing attack. Their improvement on the offensive side of the ball has come courtesy of the BGSU's new stars, QB Matt Johnson and RB Travis Greene.
Johnson has impressed in his first season starting under center, with completions on 64.2 percent of his throws, to average 228.4 passing yards per outing, with nine TDs to only three interceptions. The redshirt sophomore has earned the MAC East Offensive Player of the Week three times already. Johnson has done a great job of spreading the ball out among his wideouts as eight different Falcons have contributed to the team total of 10 receiving touchdowns. Shaun Joplin has been the most productive asset in the aerial attack with 517 yards and one score on 32 receptions.
Greene has excelled out of the backfield since converting from wide receiver to running back during the spring. The sophomore halfback is the 12th leading rushing in the nation with an average of 115.7 ypg. Green contributed 96 yards and two TDs on 19 carries in BGSU's recent loss to Toledo, while Johnson amassed 208 yards and added a rushing score.
The usually sturdy defensive unit had a poor performance by its own standards, allowing the Rockets to net 372 total yards of offense and four offensive TDs. BGSU is still second in the country in red zone defense (allowing opponents to score points on just 14-of-24 possessions), and ranks 13th in scoring defense. D.J. Lynch is the leader of the unit with 50 total tackles including five stops for loss and a sack.
The Falcons' defense will cause plenty of problems this week as it squares off against Miami's inadequate offense that has been the least productive in the conference thus far. The RedHawks have performed better since the coaching change as they have posted 277.7 total yards and 14.3 points per game under Bath compared to their averages of 198.4 ypg and 8.8 ppg through the five games with Treadwell on the sideline.
Miami will have to trudge on through the remainder of its season without starting QB Austin Boucher, who is out with a knee injury. Redshirt freshman Austin Gearing will get the start on Tuesday. Gearing has seen plenty of action this season with eight appearances in as many games, but he has only completed 4-of-10 pass attempts for 23 yards during that span. He is the team's leading rusher with 270 yards on 64 carries, which gives him almost double of the team's top skill position player Dawan Scott (142 yards).
Scott is the only reliable option in the aerial attack with team-highs of 19 receptions and 301 yards. Miami's passing attack has generated only 136 ypg and it will likely get worse with the inexperienced Gearing taking all of the snaps.
The RedHawks defense has also been a disappointment with allowed averages of 476.9 total yards and 32.5 points per contest. Bath has been able to boost the defense's performance of late though, as it has given up 428.3 ypg 27.3 ppg since he has taken over, although he has benefited from a pair of weak opponents in UMass and Akron.