The stage was set in Detroit for the 14th ranked Northern Illinois Huskies to end their regular season with an undefeated record and third-straight MAC championship victory. However, Bowling Green Falcons quarterback Matt Johnson saved his best performance of the season for the Falcons’ last game, as Bowling Green upset the Huskies before a nationally-televised audience on ESPN, 47-27.
Entering this game, most of the media attention had surrounded Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, who had amassed 42 total touchdowns (22 passing, 20 rushing) on the year. Lynch was considered a possible “dark horse” candidate for the Heisman Trophy and had led the fourth ranked rushing offense (318.9 yards per game) in the nation.
Bowling Green started fast as Johnson connected with tight end Tyler Beck on a 28-yard touchdown strike to give the Falcons the 7-0 first quarter lead. Johnson was poised and confident in the pocket and picked apart the vulnerable Huskies’ secondary. Johnson would lead the Falcons on scoring drives on five of their first seven possessions as the Falcons opened up a 31-13 halftime lead.
Johnson’s execution in the vertical passing game allowed Bowling Green to control the tempo and keep the Huskies’ high-powered offensive attack on the sidelines. His ability to improvise and break contain outside the pocket allowed the Falcons to move the chains in the second half. Johnson would finish the game completing 21-of-27 passes (77.7 percent) for 393 yards with a career-high five touchdowns and no interceptions. Johnson rushed for 33 yards on 10 attempts and played within the system.
Bowling Green held the football for 34:26 minutes and accumulated 574 total yards for the game.
They also picked up their first MAC Championship since 1992 and moved to 10-3 on the season.