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Reply To: NCAA Week 10 • Wednesday Service Plays • 11/4/15

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Red-hot Bowling Green favored big vs Ohio Wed
By: Brian Graham

OHIO BOBCATS (5-3) at BOWLING GREEN FALCONS (6-2)
Doyt Perry Stadium – Bowling Green, OH
Kickoff: Wednesday, 8:00 p.m. ET

Line: Bowling Green -20.5, Total: 65.5

Heavily-favored Bowling Green tries to stay perfect in conference play when it welcomes slumping Ohio on Wednesday night.

The Bobcats (4-3 SU and ATS) have been crushed in their past two games by scores of 49-14 and 41-17 to a pair of MAC teams they were favored by three points each against (Western Michigan and Buffalo). Meanwhile, the Falcons (6-2 SU and ATS) have ripped off five straight wins with the past three victories coming by a total score of 169 to 48. Bowling Green has also crushed Ohio in the past three meetings with results of 26-14, 49-0 and 31-13, and holds a 13-3 ATS advantage in this series since 1998. But not all is hopeless for the Bobcats, as home favorites in a game involving two average rushing teams (3.5 to 4.3 YPC) after 7+ games are only 67-117 ATS (36%) in the past 10 seasons. But they are also 0-6 ATS versus good offenses (31+ PPG) in the past three seasons, losing those games by an average score of 35 to 12. The Falcons are also 10-0 ATS after a win by 21+ points since the 2013 season. Although both of these schools are well-rested having not played since Oct. 24, there are still a host of notable injuries. But most of those are on Ohio’s side with nine questionable players for Wednesday in RB Papi White (knee), WR Herman Brunis (knee), TE Connor Brown (illness), OT Joe Lowery (groin), OL Joe Anderson (undisclosed), DE Trent Smart (foot), DL Brandon Purdum (undisclosed), CB Curtis Brunson (undisclosed) and FS Nathan Carpenter (groin). Bowling Green has only one new addition to the injury list, OL Logan Dietz (leg).

Ohio’ s offense has been lackluster in 205 with only 25.5 PPG on 386 total YPG, and those numbers dip to 19.7 PPG and 358 total YPG in conference action. A weak ground game is mostly to blame for this, as the team is producing only 131 YPG on 3.6 YPC this season. The rushing attack has been especially feeble in MAC road games with 48 yards on 32 carries (1.5 YPC) at Akron and 54 yards on 34 attempts (1.6 YPC) last week at Buffalo. Senior RB Daz’mond Patterson leads the team with 335 rushing yards (4.3 YPC) and seven touchdowns, but after gaining at least 5.3 YPC in each of his first four games, he has gained 3.2 YPC or less in his past four contests, totaling 91 yards on 38 carries (2.4 YPC). Senior QB Derrius Vick (207 pass YPG, 7.5 YPA, 9 TD, 6 INT) has also played much worse in the past four games (3 TD, 4 INT) than the first four (6 TD, 2 INT). Expect Vick to once again frequently target top WR Sebastian Smith, who leads Ohio with 497 receiving yards and five touchdowns. In last year’s home loss to Bowling Green, Smith caught a game-high nine passes for 86 yards. The Ohio defense had allowed only 94 points (15.7 PPG) in its first six games, but has surrendered 90 points (45.0 PPG) in the past two contests. Although Western Michigan ran for 430 yards on them two games ago, the Bobcats held their other three October opponents to 112 YPG on 3.6 YPC. The Ohio pass defense is giving up 194 passing YPG on 6.1 YPA and 60% completions this year, but the success of this unit is largely based on turnovers. In their five wins this season, the Bobcats have forced 14 turnovers, but in three defeats, they have only one takeaway combined. They are also facing a team that rarely gives the football away.

Bowling Green has turned the ball over just five times in eight games this season, which is a big reason why the club is averaging 43.9 PPG on 595 total YPG. Those numbers jump to 49.2 PPG and 599 total YPG in MAC play and 54.0 PPG on 612 YPG at home. While RB Travis Greene (590 rush yds, 5.3 YPC, 4 TD) leads a productive ground game averaging 161 YPG on 4.0 YPC, the Falcons’ air attack is magnificent with 434 YPG on 9.6 YPA and 70% completions. Senior QB Matt Johnson has thrown for at least 320 yards in all eight games this season, including six games of 400+ passing yards. Johnson has thrown five touchdowns passes in three straight contests, totaling 1,237 yards (412 YPG) on 78% completions, 15 TD and only 1 INT. Sophomore RB Roger Lewis already has 1,122 receiving yards and 11 TD this year, and in the past four games, he has totaled 28 catches for 563 yards (20.1 avg) and six touchdowns. Last year at Ohio, Lewis produced 100 yards on six receptions. Defensively, Bowling Green has given up too much (28.5 PPG, 421 total YPG), especially at home (30.7 PPG, 443 total YPG). However, these numbers have fallen dramatically in the past three weeks to 16.0 PPG and 318 total YPG. The run defense is the biggest reason for the improvement, as it gave up a whopping 237 YPG on 5.1 YPC in the first three games of the year, but has been outstanding during the five-game win streak in holding teams to 96 YPG on 3.0 YPC. The Falcons have also been very ball-hungry over the past three games by forcing eight turnovers.