Monday, Oct 15, 2018
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3 things to look for when Bowling Green has the ball


When Bowling Green has the ball ...

1. There will be pressure on the Falcons offense to try to match the Rockets score-for-score.

In last year’s game, the BG offense had one of its best performances of the season at the Glass Bowl, nearly keeping pace with the Rockets in a narrow 42-35 loss. Toledo had 541 yards of total offense, but the Falcons had 502 -— and Bowling Green threw for 335 yards compared to 322 for UT.

There were two lessons to be learned from last year’s game, one being that the Falcons’ success was predicated on scoring touchdowns when it reached the red zone. BG was 4-for-4 against the Rockets with four touchdowns last season; this year Bowling Green ranks among the Mid-American Conference’s best teams at scoring in the red zone.

RELATED: 3 things to look for when Toledo has the ball

One problem: the Falcons often settle for FGs (43.6 percent of the time) instead of punching the ball into the end zone. As a result, BG averages just 4.2 points per red zone appearance.

The second lesson was that Bowling Green needs to improve on third down, as last year the Falcons converted on just 3-of-14 third-down attempts against the Rockets (21.4 percent). This season BG ranks ninth in the MAC in third-down efficiency at 35.9 percent (55-of-153).

2. Toledo run defense will look to rebound after a poor outing at Ohio.

Early in the season, the Toledo rush defense was exposed by Tulsa and Miami (Fla.). The Rockets gave up 423 rushing yards to the Golden Hurricane and 254 to Miami. 

Since those two games, however, Toledo has steadily improved in stopping the run. In the next five games, all in the conference, the Rockets did not allow a single 100-yard rusher and the only 200-yard rushing performance against them was when Ball State rushed for 204 yards in what was a blowout.

That all changed against Ohio, though, when Toledo reverted back to its old ways as the Bobcats ran wild. Ohio accumulated 393 rushing yards as a team, with running back Dorian Brown and quarterback Nathan Rourke rushing for 142 and 115 yards, respectively. 

So stopping the Bowling Green rushing attack will likely be a high priority for the defensive game plan that Toledo puts together.

3. One of the few areas where the Falcons may have an advantage is on special teams.

The biggest gap between the two teams is in punting, where BG’s Joseph Davidson is one of the nation’s best. The Findlay native averages 44.2 yards per kick, and the Falcons lead the MAC in net punting with a net of 42.7 yards per boot. By comparison, UT’s Bailey Flint averages 37.0 yards per punt and the Rockets are 11th with 34.5 yards per punt.

But the rest of the advantage is a slim one at best. Toledo’s Jameson Vest has made 87.0 percent of his field-goal attempts (20-of-23) and 37-of-39 PATs; Bowling Green’s Jake Suder, a Central Catholic grad, is 16-for-18 on field-goal attempts (88.9 percent) and 24-of-25 on PATs.

Toledo also leads the MAC in both kickoff and punt returns, with Diontae Johnson returning one of each for a touchdown.

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