For the Bowling Green Falcons (10-3) , the Little Caesars Bowl will provide an opportunity to showcase their top ranked defense to the college football world. The Falcons’ opponent, the Pitt Panthers (6-6), will be looking to take another positive step in rebuilding their program under head coach Paul Chryst. This game could be one of the best games of the bowl season and will showcase hard hitting action.
Bowling Green has one of the most physical defenses in the nation and is ranked 5th overall in scoring defense (14.8 points per game). The Falcons must regroup during the month of December, as former head coach Dave Clawson was named the new head coach at Wake Forest. Falcons assistant Adam Scheier will oversee the bowl game duties and try to get the Falcons motivated for this contest.
Bowling Green is averaging 35.4 points per game on offense (28th overall) and has a very balanced offensive attack led by sophomore quarterback Matt Johnson. The Falcons are ranked 34th in the nation averaging 265.1 passing yards per game and are ranked 27th overall in rushing offense (207.4 yards per game). Matt Johnson saved his best of the season for the MAC Championship game and finished the regular season completing 64.4 percent of his passes for 3, 195 yards with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Johnson has confidence in the pocket and is not afraid to tuck the football away and break contain. On the season, he added five touchdowns on the ground.
Pitt will have to slow the rushing attack of the Falcons and force Johnson into staying in the pocket. Bowling Green has success off of play action and has struggled when teams force them into third down and long situations. The Panthers are giving up 27.2 points per game and are very solid in the secondary allowing 213.5 passing yards per game. The Panthers have a very active defensive front and can stuff the running lanes of Bowling Green. For the year, Pitt is allowing 160.8 rushing yards per game.
On offense, Pitt will try and challenge a Bowling Green defense that is allowing 166.2 passing yards per game. Pitt quarterback Tom Savage is a classic drop back passer who has come on down the stretch for the Panthers. On the year, Savage has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 2,834 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Pitt is averaging 236.8 passing yards per game (61st in the nation) and has struggled in rushing the football gaining 114.9 rushing yards per game (112th overall). Pitt has been struggled to consistently score points and is ranked 86th in the nation in scoring offense (26 points per game).
The Falcons are very physical in the interior line and will force Savage to throw over the top of the secondary. Bowling Green is giving up 142.5 rushing yards per game and is very good at rushing the passer. Through 13 games, the Falcons have generated 28 sacks.
This game could come down to turnovers, and Bowling Green has been very opportunistic this season with a +10 in turnover margin. Pitt is a-1 in turnover margin.
Prediction: Bowling Green has the better defense and the better team, however, Pitt will have their head coach which could be the biggest advantage heading into this game. Paul Chryst has a great offensive mind and to give him three weeks to prepare will be a huge advantage for the Panthers.
Pitt 35 Bowling Green 27