2014 Records: 8-6 overall, 5-3 MAC (1st MAC East)
2015 MAC Media Preseason Poll (1st MAC East)
► Bowling Green has won 11 straight against MAC East foes. However, it lost all four encounters against West Division teams last year. Can it find the means to beat opponents from the stronger MAC West?
► Will quarterback Matt Johnson return to form after missing nearly all of 2014 with a hip injury?
► While the offense returns virtually intact, how will the defense be affected by personnel turnover?
(CLICK READ MORE TO CONTINUE . . . )
► Will BG get through its tough September schedule with a minimum of serious injuries?
► Will a second year under Babers make the Falcons even more dangerous?
► No small part of any successful offense is the offensive line. Bowling Green started the same five linemen up front for all 14 games. All are back. Alex Huettel, who has started all 41 games in his career, earned All-MAC Second Team honors. As unit, they paid the way for 432.9 ypg, including 173 rushing yards per contest. The 125 career starts on the O-Line is second most in the country.
► Redshirt junior James Knapke did an admirable job handling the quarterback position after Matt Johnson went down in the opening contest. He finished sixth among MAC QBs in passing yards (226.6 ypg) and the Falcons were fourth as a team. Knapke capped the Falcons year with Camellia Bowl MVP honors. Earlier in the campaign, he completed 46-of-73 for 395 yards in a huge home win over Indiana and passed for 443 yards in a close win over UMass two weeks later.
Johnson, meanwhile, threw for 3,467 yards and 25 TDS with seven interceptions in 2013. He completed 64.2 percent of his passes while taking BG to the MAC championship game that season, earning MVP honors in the title contest with 393 yards passing and five touchdowns.
► In addition to a formidable passing game, Bowling Green can pile up the yards on the ground, as well. The Falcons ranked fourth in rushing offense (172.9 ypg), a good showing considering how much it passing the ball.
Travis Greene and Fred Coppet are both back for 2015. Greene, a redshirt senior rushed for 1,594 yards in his sophomore season and 949 yards last season. “Travis Green is a stud,” head coach Dino Babers said.
Coppet, a 5-9, 205-pound junior, picked up 785 yards last season. Both players averaged just over 5 ypc in 2014 and are good fits as part of the passing game. Several other options are available if the need arises.
► There is quality and depth in the receiving corps as the top four (and 8 of top 9) return. BG was just one of three schools to hve three receivers catch at least 55 passes and had six receivers with at least 20 catches.
Roger Lewis wasted no time, earning First Team All-MAC honors as a freshman in 2014. He led the team in receptions (73), yards (1093) and touchdowns (7).
Redshirt senior Ryan Burbrink totaled 758 yards on 64 catches, while junior Ronnie Moore was good for 56 receptions and 690 yards.
► Three starters return on a defense that finished 12th in scoring defense (33.5 ppg) and total defense (493.1 ypg) last season.
► Redshirt-senior Taylor Toyster and R-Sophomore Gus Schwieterman saw plenty of action in the middle last year but could be challenged for the positions this time around. Senior Zach Colvin sustained a season-ending injury in the opener.
Defensive end was open competition heading into fall camp. It could end up as a rotation, at least until somebody separates himself from the pack.
► Gabe Martin (Second Team All-MAC) and D.J. Lynch are gone. Redshirt Junior James Sanford will anchor a group after getting nine starts last year. He finished sixth on the team in tackles (71). Competition for the remaining spots could carry over into the season and involve some younger players.
► There was also considerable turnover in the BG secondary. Starting safeties Rylan Ward and Brian Sutton, as well as corner Jude Adjei-Barimah, are among the graduated.
Redshirt-senior Darrell Hunter and sophomore Clint Stephens should get plenty of work at the corners. The latter made one start and registered 15 tackles with four interceptions as a freshman. Notre Dame fifth-year transfer Eilar Hardy could be at one of the safety spots.
► Placekicker Tyler Tate earned All-MAC Third Team honors last year, when he converted 23-of-29 field goal attempts.
Also returning is punter Joseph Davidson. He set school records with 82 punts for 3,497 yards in his freshman campaign and ranked third among MAC punters(42.6 ypk).
► The Falcons are shooting for a third consecutive MAC East title and trip to the MAC title game.
► BG had 55 scoring drives during the 2014 season that took three minutes or less. The Falcons ranked last in time of possession (26:12).
► Bowling Green was third in turnover margin (Plus 10 overall, 0.71 per game).