We're going to change things up for the next two weeks. There isn't much history, nor was there for Navy or ISU, between Indiana and Bowling Green/Missouri. So, we're going to flip our historic recaps during the week to a preview all about the upcoming opponent. Hopefully, this will help us all understand what we're going up against a little better and we won't be completely caught off guard like we were with Navy. Some of you might not have been, but let me have my own little fantasy world, damn it!
Let's start with our friends to the east in Bowling Green. Everyone in the media seems to be all over the place with how good they think Bowling Green is. Some have them as a top 50 opponent coming into the year. Others I have seen have them as low as 92 in the nation. The predictions are all over the place. But one thing we do know is that Bowling Green's defense is very good for their conference and they've performed admirably so far this season.
Last year BG won eight games to get back to a bowl game for their first time since 2009. This was in year three of new head coach Dave Clawson who has already shown he can make the grades at two previous schools. Clawson knows his stuff, so we shouldn't be surprised when Bowling Green comes out with some unexpected wrinkles. Especially in the defense.
Coming off the bowl bid from last year, where they had the fourth lowest ppg of any bowl team, the Falcons will be desperately trying to find some semblance of offense. So far, they haven't been too shabby. They're currently 42nd in the nation in points scored averaging 37.5. That's not too shabby since their opponents were a Tulsa team that was expected to be quite good and Darrell Hazell's former club Kent State. However, Tulsa isn't looking quite as good as expected and Kent State struggled in their win against Liberty. But these two teams are supposed to be top in their conferences.
Bowling Green has found a balanced offense accumulating 260 yards through the air and 226 on the ground per game. The surprise for Bowling Green thus far is that sophomore quarterback Matt Johnson beat out senior Matt Schilz for the starting position. He's completing 62.5% of his passes for 10 yards per attempt with a 2-1 TD/INT ratio. Not too shabby. Johnson has proven to be serviceable at quarterback, but BG's real talents are in the run game.
BG has one go to guy. Johnson is their second leading rusher on the season, so we know that we're going to really only see their premiere back Travis Greene getting large numbers of carries out of the backfield. Green is running for 5.1 yards a carry so far this year. He has 233 yards total on 46 carries, racking up 145 against Kent St. last week. Against a Tulsa team, he ran for 88 yards on 22 carries. So he's had one big game and one mediocre one. The way Indiana's run defense has looked however, expect a big one.
Defensively is where Bowling Green will make most of its living. As a program in 2012 they were stout. They lost two superstars. DT Chris Jones and linebacker Dwayne Woods were two studs for them last season, but BG returns mostly everyone else. Including hard hitting Ted Ouellet, who laid out his Sports Information Director this off-season. With Ouellet and company on the defensive line, our young offensive line will have their work cut out for them. Though, BG is less likely to get as much push as they did last year, they'll be able to consistently hold the line against a steady run game.
In the secondary, BG is experienced. They return every starter from their back four last season. This crew finished 13th in passing yards allowed last year and that's enough to feel a bit antsy about since they're bring the whole defense back. This will be the first competition of the year where we can say that IU will have faced a legit defense. We'll know exactly where the offense stands after this one.
Overall, Bowling Green should have Indiana a little nervous. They're experienced and are fighting for the top of the conference billing. This might actually be a game where the Hoosiers have to, gulp, win one through the defense. Bowling Green's offense isn't frightening by any means, but their defense is more than enough to cause some struggles in even the best offenses. It should be a battle. Check back later in the week to get the full head to head preview and projections.