Where: Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio
When: 12 PM ET on ESPNU and WatchESPN
Vegas says: The current line is Indiana by 8, but the books opened with BGSU by 3. The line swung 9 points in roughly four hours last Sunday.
Falcon passing attack in flux
To the outside observer, Bowling Green is reeling as a football team right now due to a batch of early and significant injuries. The team’s starting quarterback Matt Johnson went down with a season ending injury in week 1, prompting the team to start James Knapke, a sophomore QB from Fort Wayne.
Knapke had a fantastic week against the Virginia Military Institute in a 48-7 win. Knapke completed 22 passes for 237 yards, with a solid 71% completion percentage. Knapke did throw an interception, but chipped in a 17 yard rushing touchdown to compensate. You have to consider the competition, but he performed very well on the day.
One thing to watch, though, is that the majority of Knapke’s completions came when the game was totally out of hand. Knapke only threw 5 passes for 34 yards against VMI when the game was within 14 points. The reluctance to use the passing game while building a lead, even against a totally inferior opponent, tells me that Head Coach Dino Babers doesn’t yet believe in the passing game.
BGSU rushing attack has weapons to work with
As a result, expect the Falcons to go to the run early and often against Indiana. For that, they’ll turn to Travis Greene and Fred Coppet. Greene and Coppet combined for 202 yards on 27 carries against VMI. The team’s depth took a hit with the loss of William Houston due to legal troubles, but Greene and Coppet combine for a 1-2 punch that could give Indiana’s new look 3-4 some problems.
The running back crew rolled VMI for a solid 7.03 yards per carry and 4 touchdowns, but against reasonable competition in Western Kentucky, that number dropped to 4.34 yards per carry.
Don’t be surprised if you see Indiana key on the BGSU run game while challenging Knapke to make plays to beat them over the top. That’s not necessarily been Indiana’s M.O. so far this season. But if Indiana shuts down the run game early and forces a few early three and outs, we could see a similar result to last year’s contest.
A “get-right” game for the Hoosier passing attack?
Bowling Green comes in with a 1-1 record after two games that weren’t all that hotly contested. They were blasted by Western Kentucky’s offensive attack to the tune of 59 points and 569 passing yards. After watching that game, I can tell you that even with 59 total, WKU left some points on the board.
Knock on wood, but this could be a get-right game for the Indiana passing attack. It’s week 3 and the Bowling Green passing defense hasn’t shown up yet – the pass rush has been poor with 3 total sacks on the season, and cornerbacks have struggled to keep opponents to a 445 passing yards per game average. (For those of you who prefer per play stats, considering the competition, the 8 yards an attempt stat on the Falcon D’s books should be similarly concerning.) Things look even more dire for Bowling Green fans as the Falcons defense has struggled to turn teams off the field on third and long. On third and 7-9 to go, VMI and BGSU combined for a 214.48 passer rating and a 89% completion percentage. That’s not good.
Expect to see a few broken tackles – 6 of the Falcons’ top 8 tacklers are defensive backs, and we know what happens when Tevin Coleman gets into the open field.
Calling our shots – CrimsonCast staff score predictions
And without any further ado, here are the predictions from your CrimsonCast staff:
Galen’s video pick gets historical to caution you about an Indiana team going on the road, before calling a 34-31 shootout victory for your Hoosiers.
Scott calls a 35-17 Indiana win in Bowling Green.
Mike Petry’s prediction? “Pain. And a 42-14 IU victory.”
Michael Rayome’s pick – I’m calling a 38-13 Indiana victory. Indiana will score a couple of touchdowns early via a renewed passing attack. Tevin Coleman and the running back crew will dominate the second half, prompting the exits to clear in the early fourth quarter.