Once again, we have a Q&A with the excellent SB Nation blog for all thing MACtion, the Hustle Belt. They try to have a dedicated writer for each team and it is Randy Carpenter who handles everything when it comes to the Bowling Green Falcons.
T-Mill: Last year's defense was... not good. Is this another Bowling Green team that is going to get into some fun shootouts?
Randy: This is the Mid-American Conference. Everything is a shoot out. The non-Power 5 programs can recruit some decent athletes to run the spread and compete on offense with the bigger schools, but on defense is where the void in talent really becomes apparent. Our defense was terrible early and late last year but played decent enough through the middle part of the season to enable us to win the MAC East division. BG lost 7 or 8 starters off that unit and it's still to be determined if that is a good or bad thing. They did make some changes with a new defensive coordinator coming in so we'll see if he can make an improvement. I do know one thing, and that's that Dino's Babers' up-tempo offense doesn't help his defense. If you're not making first downs, your defense spends a lot of time on the field.
T-Mill: The Falcons got a Big Ten scalp last year in Indiana and Purdue has been pretty awful the last two years. How much confidence does the team have heading into this game?
Randy: Yes, I think the team and definitely the fan base feel that the Falcons can compete with thelower third of the Big Ten. I know BG is often fighting of the same recruits with the likes of Indiana, Illinois, Purdue and Northwestern. Last year's win over the Hoosiers, and wins in recent years over Northwestern (2003 Motor City Bowl), the Boilermakers (2003), and Minnesota (2007) has validated those feelings. BG plays Maryland, Tennessee, Memphis and the Boilermakers in a tough non-conference schedule this year. I think a lot of people feel that the Purdue game might be their best chance to win a game out of those four.
T-Mill: What are the offensive strengths and who should Purdue be afraid of?
Randy: BG has lot of playmakers with a lot of experience. I think we return 10 starters from last year's unit. We also get all MAC QB Matt Johnson and wide out Chris Gallon back from injury. Plus, former Baylor WR Robbie Rhodes will now be eligible after transferring. Johnson is the MAC's best quarterback when healthy and he has a lot of weapons around him. Travis Green had nearly another 1,000 yard season last year, after gaining 1,600+ the year before. Rhodes and Gallon will add to an already loaded receiving core. Freshman Roger Lewis, a former Ohio State signee, had a breakout year with 73 catches for 1,093 yards and seven TDs. Speedster Ronnie Moore, Gehrig Dieter and Ryan Burbrink give the Falcons plenty of weapons at wide receiver.
And oh by the way, all five starters on the offensive line return. Watch the tape of the Indiana game and you'll see what you should be afraid of...especially with the talent they are adding from injury and transferring.
T-Mill: What are Bowling Green's season expectations?
Randy: The Falcons will be the heavy favorite to repeat as MAC East champs. Part of that is because of all the offensive talent returning, and because the MAC East really isn't very good right now. Their non-conference schedule is a concern. They could easily be 0-4 before hitting conference play. I just hope they don't get banged up with injuries in those games that will linger over into the rest of the season. If they can get to conference play relatively healthy, I think they can win the East pretty handily. I think playing in the MAC Championship game and a bowl game is a reality for this team. They got smoked in the MAC Championship game last year and I have no idea if they would be able to handle Northern Illinois, Toledo or Western Michigan from the West in this year's game. That's why we play the games.
T-Mill: Did you know Bowling Green is 2-0 vs. Purdue all-time? What will it take to make it three in a row?
Randy: Of course. I vividly remember that 2003 game that game that came down to a BG touchdown pass with two minutes left for the victory. I give a lot of credit to former BG coach Urban Myer for the success that 2003 team had. Urban left for Utah after the 2002 season but those were his players and that was still his team.
I think this year's game will be a high scoring affair. BG probably won't be able to stop the Boilermakers much, so they will have to outscore them. Again, see last years' Indiana game as the blueprint for how to do it. I think BG ran something like 12o offensive plays in that game?
However, remember that Darrell Hazell beat BG pretty good when he was at Kent State his last few years. Maybe he knows something?
T-Mill: Finally, a prediction?
Randy: I am going with another upset by the Falcons, 52-44 in a thriller.