Match-up: Georgia Southern (Sun Belt) Vs. Bowling Green (MAC)
Spread: Bowling Green (-7.5)
Location: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
When: Wednesday, December 23rd
Where to Watch: ESPN
Georgia Southern Overview
Record – 8-4
It was a roller coaster season for Willie Fritz’s second year with the Eagles, who were looking to build off of a 9-3 season. At least they won more games than Chip Kelly’s Eagles likely will. After an embarrassing 44-0 road loss to West Virginia to start the season, the Eagle’s went 8-2 in their next 10, while leading the nation in rushing with over 355 yards per game. 355… That’s more than most NFL quarterbacks average per game… A close loss against Georgia seemed to display some promise, but the team was obliterated by in state rival Georgia State 34-7 to end the season, thus ending their hopes of a Sun Belt title.
Players to Watch
Matt Breida (RB) – Breida has been the go to back for the number one rushing offense in the entire nation. The 190 pound junior ran for 1540 yards, which is 10th in the nation. He also tallied 16 touchdowns and averaged 8.2 yards per carry, which is astounding. Breida’s impressive running earned him a spot on the 1st team All Sun-Belt roster. Look for him to have a big impact against the nation’s 57th ranked rushing defense.
Antwione Williams (LB) – The senior linebacker had a coming out party this season, tallying 97 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks, which were all tops on the team. He earned a spot on the newcomers list for the All Sun-Belt team, and he should be all over the field for this game. He’s the leader of this defense and the best playmaker on it.
How Georgia Southern Can Win
If Georgia Southern wants to win this game, they’ll have to force the Falcons to become one dimensional. Matt Johnson is going to throw the ball… There’s nothing Georgia Southern can do about that. But they can utilize their 27th ranked rush defense to at least take away play action and force Bowling Green to become more predictable. You can’t stop this Bowling Green offense, but you can at least ATTEMPT to slow it down by making it easier to read.
Bowling Green Overview
Record – 10-3
Not a lot to complain about if you’re a Bowling Green fan; Dino Babers’ second season went very well after an 8-6 stint last year. After a tough 59-30 loss to Tennessee, Bowling Green went on a 10-2 run, with their only losses being to ranked opponents in Memphis and Toledo. Senior quarterback had a season to remember, as he racked up 4700 yards to lead the nation’s 3rd most dynamic aerial attack. The Falcons would get revenge on Northern Illinois, who beat them 51-17 in the 2014 MAC Title Game, by blowing them out 34-14. They head into this bowl with a ton of momentum, as they’ve scored 49.8 PPG over their last 8.
Players To Watch
Roger Lewis (WR) – I could talk about Johnson all day, who leads the nation in passing yards, but it’s hard not to credit his #1 target in Lewis. His 1476 receiving yards leads the nation, and he’s caught the third most touchdowns (15). His 94 yard touchdown reception was the 2nd longest reception by any player in the entire nation, and he averages 18 yards per catch. Lewis is a big play waiting to happen, and will likely explode for at least one big play in this game. It should come as no surprise that Lewis, along with Johnson, both earned 1st team All-MAC honors.
Austin Valdez (LB) – The Bowling Green defense as a whole hasn’t been stellar, but Valdez has been an absolute beast. His 133 total tackles are tied for 5th in the entire nation. He channeled his inner Luke Kuechly against Memphis where he tallied 20 tackles, which is a large amount, for those of you who failed math. The red shirt sophomore also accounted for 10.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, and 5 pass break ups. Expect the 1st team All-Mac linebacker to be in on a ton of plays on Christmas Eve Eve.
How Bowling Green Can Win
Stop the run… It’s that simple. Yes, Georgia Southern leads the nation in rushing. However, they average an abysmal 61.8 passing yards per game… which is an average drive for Carson Palmer. Not to mention that Bowling Green has the offensive firepower to make this a shootout. Focus on the run, build a lead, and FORCE Georgia Southern to do something that no team does worse than them in the nation.
Final Score Prediction – Bowling Green Wins 45-21