Midweek MACtion this week gives us a game with in-state bragging rights on the line, as the Bowling Green Falcons host the Ohio Bobcats. Game time is at 7:30 EST on Tuesday, November 19 at Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Current betting odds list Ohio as 18.5-point favorites on the road. There is also an over/under for the game of 57 points. Be sure to check out all of the Week 13 college football odds.
In just a few short weeks, the Bobcats have gone from contender to win the MAC championship to a team that is just hoping to make it to a bowl game. Ohio has suffered back-to-back losses at the hands of Miami (Ohio) and Western Michigan, two of the best teams in the MAC. Those losses have dropped them to 3-3 in conference play, taking away any chance of them reaching the MAC title game. More importantly, the Bobcats sit at 4-6 heading into their final two games of the season. Ohio has missed a bowl game just once in the last 10 years, so not having a postseason game would be a surprise. While the Bobcats will be favored in their two remaining games, both are on the road. Plus, winning both to get to 6-6 may not be enough to guarantee a bowl bid.
Meanwhile, Bowling Green is already out of contention for a bowl game. The Falcons are coming off a 44-3 loss to Miami (Ohio) last week that brought them to 3-7 on the season. It hasn’t been an easy season for first-year head coach Scot Loeffler, who took over a program that hasn’t been to a bowl game since winning the MAC championship in 2015 under current Syracuse coach Dino Babers. Even without hope for a bowl game on the table, any win Loeffler can get in his first season is important as Bowling Green tries to rebuild.
The Bowling Green seniors will also be hoping to beat Ohio for the first time in their career. While the Falcons own the all-time series between these in-state rivals, the Bobcats have won the last three meetings. That includes a 49-14 win in last year’s meeting and a 48-30 win when the Bobcats visited Bowling Green two years ago.
Lopsided wins have been a rarity for Ohio this season, largely because the Bobcats are just 4-6 on the season. Despite the disappointing record, Ohio isn’t far from being one of the top teams in the MAC with all three of their conference losses coming by exactly three points. In other words, they are head and shoulders better than Bowling Green, so I have no problem eating the points in this game and taking the Bobcats to cover.
The biggest reason why Ohio has lost close games this season is their rushing attack isn’t quite as potent as it’s been in past years. That being said, the Bobcats are still good at running the ball. They just have to rely a little more on the legs of quarterback Nathan Rourke than they’d prefer. Rourke is the team’s leading rusher and has 10 rushing touchdowns on the season. But freshman running back O’Shaan Allison has come along during the second half of the season. De’Montre Tuggle has also contributed nine rushing touchdowns, giving the Bobcats a reliable rushing attack, even if it doesn’t match up to past seasons.
More importantly, the Bowling Green defense has been terrible against the run this season. Outside of their wins over Toledo and Akron, the Falcons have been gashed on the ground by MAC teams time and time again. The Bowling Green pass defense isn’t much better. But their inability to stop the run or prevent explosive plays on the ground is the biggest reason why the Falcons are giving up close to 35 points per game.
Meanwhile, the Bowling Green offense isn’t capable of keeping up in a shootout. Outside of wins over winless Akron and FCS foe Morgan State, the Falcons have failed to score more than 20 points in a game this season. Boston College transfer Darius Wade failed to hold onto the starting quarterback job and has rarely been seen since September. In his place, Grant Loy hasn’t been much better. Loy gives the Falcons more of a rushing threat, but he’s also thrown 10 interceptions to just five interceptions. Bowling Green is also lacking playmakers at wide receiver and rely on a rushing attack that’s average at best to carry the offense.
Based on their track record this season, the best-case scenario for Bowling Green in this game is scoring 20 points. Even if that’s the case, I think the Bobcats can cover the spread. Ohio will run the ball until the Falcons prove they can stop it, and I don’t think they’ll have much success stopping it. I like the Bobcats to literally run away with this game and cover the 18.5-point spread.