Doyt L. Perry Stadium, Bowling Green, OH
Picture a pair of fireworks companies vying for a long term Fourth of July contract. They come together one night and show their stuff at the same time.
Something like that – in the form of big football plays -- could happen when Bowling Green meets UMass Saturday at Doyt Perry Stadium. Both offenses were certainly explosive last year as they combined for 1,300 yards in a 47-42 Falcons victory.
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Bowling Green, for its part, had three receivers with over 100 yards in last year’s contest: Roger Lewis (9 catches, 148 yards, 1 TD), Ryan Burbrink (11 catches, 132 yards, 1 TD) and Ronnie Moore (9 catches, 109 yards, 1 TD). All three are back for more this year.
Also back – but back to backing up – is quarterback James Knapke. He completed 38 of 59 for 443 yards with three TDs and three interceptions against UMass last year. He is 2 for 2 this season. That is because of quarterback Matt Johnson’s return from a season-ending injury in game one of 2014. Suffice it to say Johnson, a 6-0, 219-pound senior, has re-earned the starting role. He just happens to be leading the entire Football Bowl Subdivision in passing yardage (2,084).
Here’s a further look at the two teams:
(3-2, 1-0 MAC)
>>> The Falcons own victories over both Big Ten opponents faced this year: Maryland (48-27) and Purdue (35-28). Their two losses were to No. 25 Tennessee in the season opener and Memphis (44-41). The latter was BG’s only true home game so far this season.
>>> Bowling Green leads the MAC in scoring. It's 36.4 ppg average is 20th nationally. The Falcons are surrendering 36.0 ppg, which is 11th among MAC teams. UMass is one step lower, giving up 37.2 ppg.
>>> BG's 418.6 yards passing per contest not only tops the MAC, it is second among all FBS teams. Texas Tech leads with 420.65 ypg via the airways. UMass is second (MAC) in pass offense, but nearly 100 yards back (327.0).
>>> Quarterback Matt Johnson has completed 66.5 percent of his passes for the season. He completed 79 percent (23 of 29) last week against Buffalo in windy and rainy conditions. Johnson completed 79 percent the previous week against Purdue when he connected on a career-high 43 passes. He also became the first Falcon to register four 400-yard passing games in his career. Johnson has been named MAC East Offensive Player of the Wee three times in five weeks.
>>> Roger Lewis leads Falcon receivers with 40 catches for 760 yards (19.0 ypc) with six touchdowns (including a 94-yarder). Ronnie Moore, Ryan Burbrink and Gehrig Dieter have combined for 81 reception, 907 yards and four TDs.
>>> Bowling Green ranks sixth (MAC) in rushing offense (162.0 ypg). Senior Travis Greene (5-10, 189), leads Falcon ballcarriers with 66 carries for 351 yards (5.3 ypc) and three touchdowns. Fred Coppet (5-9, 205) has 49 trips for 299 yards, thus far. Donovan Wilson (6-0, 229) can come in for some extra power. He has 15 carries for 39 yards and four touchdowns.
>>> Sophomore lineback Austin Valdez tops all MAC defenders with an average of 11.4 tackles per contest. Senior LB Trent Green comes in at No. 5 with 10.0 stops per game.
>>> Taylor Royster is five players ranked fourth in sacks (3).
>>> BG has committed a conference-high 49 penalties and is averaging 93.6 ypg in losses from penalties.
(1-3, 0-0 MAC)
>>> This is the conference opener for UMass with started a week later than most teams and does not have a bye week on the schedule.
>>> Last week's 24-14 win over Florida International broke a season-opening three-game losing streak (Colorado, 48-14; Temple, 25-23; No. 6 Notre Dame, 62-27).
>>> UMass jumped off to a 14-0 lead on FIU with two Frohnapfel TD passes. The visitors closed to within 17-14 late in the third stanza, but Frohnapfel gave the Minutemen a final cushion with a five-yard TD toss to Marken Michel. The 5-11, 190-pound senior hauled in two scores and picked up 113 yards on seven receptions. Tajae Sharpe had a big day with 15 receptions for 159 yards and one touchdown.
Sharpe leads UMass receivers with 45 catches for 536 yards and a score. Michel owns 22 receptions for 284 yards and three scores, including a 57-yarder.
>>> The Minutemen logged 39 carries to pick up 132 yards rushing against FIU. They are averaging 118 ypg on the ground (11th MAC). Freshman Marquis Young (6-0, 196) has 21 carries for 188 yards with an 83-yard TD. Jamal Wilson and Sekai Lindsay have registered 25 trips each for a total of 183 yards and three TDs.
>>> Kicker Logan Laurent is three for three on the season and booted a 48 yarder last week. He is one of three placekickers UMass has used.
>>> Blake Frohnapfel has completed 59.1 percent of his passes, with seven TDs and three picks through four games.
>>> UMass ranks ninth (MAC) in defending the pass (224.5 ypg) and is 12th against the run (246.8 ypg).
>>> Jovan Santo-Knox leads the team in tackles with 33 and TFL (4.0).Joe Colton has registered 32 stops.
>>> UMass is 10th (MAC) in turnover margin (0.75 per game). Bowling Green is plus-two and ranks sixth (with Buffalo) at 0.40 per game).
>>> UMass is last in both red zone offense and red zone defense.