Saying goodbye to MACtion every year is like saying goodbye to a good friend who is going to travel Europe for a bit. You know they’ll be back, but it will feel like an eternity. As we head into the final night of midweek MACtion, we are greeted with a two-game slate with four teams that will not compete in the MAC title.
While Eastern Michigan has the most to play for as they can secure a bowl bid, I’ve got my sites set on a Bowling Green team that is bowl-eligible already but can secure their first season with more than six wins since 2015.
In order to make a trip to a bowl this season, Western Michigan would’ve needed to win all four of their remaining conference games. That uphill battle did get off to a strong start with two straight wins, but their short win streak would come to an end last week with a 24-0 loss to Northern Illinois.
The Broncos abandoned their run game in the shutout loss, which was an interesting decision considering their running back, Jalen Buckley, had run for over 100 yards and two touchdowns in the two games prior. When WMU put the ball in Buckley’s hands, they not only won both games but also scored their two highest point totals on the season.
While quarterback Hayden Wolff has been solid, the Broncos are still 67th in passing yards per game and 92nd in pass yards per attempt, so the grass certainly wasn’t greener on the other side of the offense. No matter what direction the Broncos decide to take the offense this week, they will have their work cut out for them against an impressive Bowling Green defense.
Bowling Green ranks 30th in the country in yards allowed per game (337.5). Prior to their loss to Toledo, the Falcons had held four straight conference opponents to 21 or fewer points, and a big reason for that is their stellar secondary, that is 22nd in passing yards allowed per game.
Offensively, the Falcons have hit their stride since week seven, averaging 33.8 points per game in that span. I usually don’t think two quarterback systems are a good idea, but the Falcons make it work with Connor Bazelak’s arm and Camden Orth’s legs. It also helps they have a solid running game, and while starting running back Terion Stewart may still be out with an injury, Ta’Ron Keith has stepped up nicely in his absence.
Bowling Green is currently listed as (-2) point road favorites, and I’ll be backing them to go into bowl season with a lot of momentum. If Western Michigan decides they want to keep the ball in Hayden Wolff’s hands tonight and ignore their run game, then this game could be over early.
The Falcons' defense ranks inside the top 50 for opponent completion percentage, and they are 23rd in sack percentage. So, not only can they make Wolff uncomfortable in the pocket, but they’ve also proven they have a nose for the ball. Even if the Broncos lean more on Buckley tonight, I’m not sure that will be enough to keep pace with a Falcons offense that has found their stride.
Whether the Falcons want to air it out with Bazelak or keep it on the ground with Orth and Keith, they should be able to find success. Western Michigan’s defense ranks 102nd in the country in rush yards allowed per attempt (4.8) and 100th in rushing yards allowed per game (172.3). WMU is also 99th in yards allowed per play, so Bowling Green’s strategy of establishing the run and then taking deep shots to Harold Fannin Jr. and Odieu Hiliare should work well since the Broncos are susceptible to explosive plays.
Bowling Green (-2)(-110)