By EVAN MEYER
First place in the Mid-American Conference’s Eastern Division is at stake Tuesday night at InfoCision Stadium where the Akron Zips look to end a two-game losing streak when they battle Bowling Green. The Falcons have not played since October 18 when they were surprised at home by Western Michigan, 26-14.
LAST TIME OUT:
The Zips last played October 25, losing at Ball State, 35-21. It was a tale of two halves in Muncie. The first half was all Akron as it built a 21-6 lead thanks to two touchdown runs by junior RB Conor Hundley and a 10-yard pass from redshirt freshman QB Thomas Woodson to senior TE Anthony Ritossa.
When the Cardinals scored with about two minutes remaining in the half, it started a turnaround in which the home team would score the game's final 29 points.
Aided by five UA turnovers (four interceptions and a lost fumble) that led to 20 of the points, as well as a blocked punt, the Cardinals took over.
Woodson, starting his second consecutive game for injured UA starter Kyle Pohl, was 21-of-39 through the air for 200 yards with a touchdown and those four interceptions. Hundley led the ground game with 72 yards on 14 carries and two scores while senior WR L.T, Smith led the receivers with five catches for 59 yards (with 10 UA players catching at least one pass).
Defensively, senior LB CJ Mizell had 11 total tackles (four solo). However, it was the first game this season in which the Zips defense failed to get a turnover.
ON THE YEAR:
As a team UA is averaging 382.8 yards per game on offense while scoring 22.9 pts per game. Defensively they are allowing 20.2 points per game (first in the MAC) and 360.4 total yards per game (second in the MAC)
Individually on the offensive side, Kyle Pohl is completing 56.7 percent of his passes (119 of 210) for 1,186 yards with seven touchdowns and just three interceptions…Conor Hundley leads the ground game with 407 yards and three touchdown (scoring two of those at BSU)…Junior WR Zach D’Orazio leads the receivers with 41 catches for 455 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, senior LB Jatavis Brown leads in total tackles with 62 (43 solo) while he and Nordly Capi are tied with four sacks each…
On Special teams, Junior Zach Paul is averaging 44.9 yards per kick while fellow junior PK Robert Stein is 17 of 17 on PATs and 7 of 7 on field goals while averaging 58.5 yds. on kickoffs with seven touchbacks.
UA is 4-4 (3-1 at InfoCision Stadium)…It opened the 2014 season with a 41-0 shutout of Howard at home then came consecutive losses at Penn State and at home to nationally ranked Marshall. The win at Pittsburgh on September 27 started a three-game winning streak which included a win over Eastern Michigan -- the Zips' first win in a MAC opener since 2007. They followed that up with a win over Miami before losses on the road at Ohio and at Ball State.
NOTES & QUOTES:
Several Zips are moving up the all-time charts. Senior RB Jawon Chisholm rushed for 19 yards against the Cardinals and is currently third on the all-time UA list with 3,036 yards, just 18 yards behind second place James Black.
QB Kyle Pohl passed the 4,000 yard passing mark in his career and has 4,089 yards, 282 yards behind fourth place Chris Jacquemain.
WR Keith Sconiers is tied for eighth on the all-time reception list with 106 (he had two receptions against BSU). PK Robert Stein has made his last 11 consecutive field goals dating back to last season.
The Zips defense has at least one interception in six of its last seven games…Zach D’ Orazio had a career-best 117 receiving yards while scoring his first touchdown of the season at Ohio. C.J. Mizell had 11 tackles against BSU the second straight game and the third this season he has had 10 or more total tackles in a game
THE SERIES: The game is the 22nd lifetime meeting between the two schools with Bowling Green holding a 13-7 advantage, having won the last five games. It is the 11th matchup in Akron, with the Falcons holding a 6-4 edge and the second at InfoCision Stadium (BGSU won 24-10). UA’s last win came in 2006 at the Rubber Bowl 35-28.
BOWLING GREEN STATE FALCONS (5-3, 3-1 MAC EAST)
LAST TIME OUT:
The Falcons last played October 18, losing at home to Western Michigan, 24-16. The Falcons were surprised at home by WMU after RB Andre Givens gave the home team a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter (he would have both the Falcons scores on the day). WMU then seized control of the contest as it held the Falcons to 274 yards of total offense. Junior RB Travis Greene gained just 46 yards on the ground while sophomore QB James Knapke completed 20-of-39 passes for only 139 yards.
The BGSU defense had no answer for WMU’s freshman RB Jarvion Franklin, who carried the ball 37 times for 149 yards and a 22-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
ON THE YEAR:
As a team, BGSU is averaging 33.6 points and 454.8 yards per game offensively (third in the MAC in both categories).
Defensively, the Falcons are allowing 27.4 points and 542.2 yards per game.
Individually, fourth year junior RB Travis Greene leads the ground game with 636 yards and eight touchdowns (sixth in the MAC). James Knapke has completed 59.2 percent of his passes (179 of 302) for 1,958 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Freshman WR Roger Lewis leads the receivers with 53 catches( tied for third in the MAC with Toledo’s Corey Jones) for 707 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensively, fifth year senior LB Gabe Martin leads in tackles with 71 total tackles (31 solo). He also owns nine tackles for loss (-31 yards). Fellow senior DE Bryan Thomas leads the Falcons with 4.5 sacks.
On special teams, redshirt freshman P Joe Davidson is averaging 42.6 yards per kick while junior PK Tyler Tate is 12 of 15 on field goals and 29 of 32 on PATs.
Bowling Green is 5-3 (2-2 on the road). The Falcons opened their season with a loss at Western Kentucky. Bowling Green also lost starting QB Matt Johnson for the season.
Bowling Green rebounded with home wins over Virginia Military (FCS) and Indiana scoring the winning touchdown with just nine seconds remaining.
After a loss at Wisconsin (68-17), the Falcons reeled off wins against UMass (42-41), Buffalo (36-35) and Ohio (31-13).
NOTES & QUOTES:
The Falcons are led by Dino Babers, now in his first season in Northwest Ohio after replacing Dave Clawson, who left for Wake Forest after the Falcons win over Northern Illinois in the 2013 MAC Championship Game.
BGSU is 5-3 overall for the third consecutive season. Since the start of 2012 season, BGSU is 14-1 against the Eastern Division (lone loss at home to Kent State in 2012 which gave the Flashes the East title). The Falcons have nine straight victories against the East coming into this game with UA.
A BGSU victory would make the Falcons bowl eligible for the third consecutive season…So far this season, the Falcons are 2-0 coming off a loss…In their win over Indiana, the Falcons ran 113 offensive plays -- a school record…BGSU's defense has allowed just 46 total points over the last 10 quarters.