Bowling Green travels to Ypsilanti, Michigan, to take on MAC East rival Eastern Michigan as a #MACtion triple-header helps kick off college football's Thanksgiving week slate. While both teams come into this game with identical conference records (2-5), it would be fair to state that this game is a contrast in how the 2017 season has played out.
The Falcons (2-9 overall) have lost their last two games, including a 66-37 shootout to West Division-leading Toledo last Wednesday. Bowling Green has really had its issues defensively, ranking last in the MAC and 126th nationally in yards allowed per game (517.2). Among the bright spots for the Falcons has been the play of punter Joe Davidson, who is leading the MAC (and 16th in the FBS) with a 44.2-yard punting average.
For the Eagles (4-7), they will look back at this season and regret missed opportunities. Six of their seven losses have come by a touchdown or less, all of those against teams that are bowl eligible – Army, Kentucky, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo and Western Michigan. Eastern Michigan did upset Big Ten member Rutgers in Week 2, but lost by a total of five points to the Wildcats from the SEC and the Black Knights, who are a combined 15-7. The Eagles have one of the top passing offenses in the MAC behind the play of senior quarterback Brogan Roback’s 2,815 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Bowling Green at Eastern Michigan
Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN3
Spread: Eastern Michigan -13
Three Things to Watch
1. Bowling Green’s passing offense vs. Eastern Michigan's pass defense
The Falcons have played three different quarterbacks this season, but may have found something in Jarret Doege. The younger brother of former Texas Tech star Seth Doege, Jarret has 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in six games while completing 64.2 percent of his passes. The freshman is coming off of a 270-yard, four-touchdown game against Toledo. Doege may struggle to find similar success against the Eagles, however. EMU is tops in the MAC in passing defense (184.4 ypg), although they have allowed twice as many touchdowns (14) compared to interceptions (seven).
2. Eastern Michigan's passing offense vs. Bowling Green's pass defense
For his career, Brogan Roback has thrown for more than 8,500 yards with 56 touchdown passes. Last week against Miami (Ohio), Roback became the Eagles’ all-time leader in total offense (8,811). He’s already the record holder for touchdown passes too. He should be able to build upon both records against a Falcons defense that is last in the MAC and 114th nationally with 265.1 passing yards per game. Bowling Green also has surrendered 21 TD passes compared to just eight interceptions.
3. Can Bowling Green protect Doege?
The Falcons have given up 29 sacks this season. Only two other teams (Ball State, Kent State) have allowed more in the MAC. Toledo had four in last week’s win over Bowling Green. On the other side, Eastern Michigan is third in the conference with 28 sacks, including eight over the last two games. Sophomore defensive lineman Maxx Crosby leads the Eagles and is tied for third in the MAC with 11 sacks of his own. For Doege to be effective in the pocket, the Falcons’ offensive line will need to give him time and pay particular attention to Crosby.
This is it for both teams, so it’s an opportunity to send the respective senior class out with one last win while building some momentum looking ahead to 2018. Eastern Michigan has played so many close games this season, knowing that a few plays here or there could have resulted in a bowl invitation and a winning record. Look for the Eagles to finish out things on a high note, while the Falcons enter their offseason with many questions to be answered.