Did the Falcons clinch too early?


There could be any number of different reasons or excuses for Bowling Green’s lack of sharpness and
execution in different situations throughout the season and especially in the last two weeks.
In a 27-20 loss to arch-rival Toledo, the Falcons seemed overmatched, yet so close to a win at times. But
in a 41-24 loss to Ball State last week, Bowling Green simply looked flat and lacked desire and effort,
according to head coach Dino Babers.
Maybe it was playing against another Mid-American Conference West opponent that got into the heads of the
Falcons. They’re 0-3 against the West this season. It could have been the cold weather, although it is
obvious the opponent played in the same conditions. Or it may have been that Bowling Green didn’t have
much to play for. Or did it?
The Falcons clinched a date in the MAC championship game for the second straight year with a win over
Kent State on Nov. 12 with two weeks left in the regular season. Bowling Green will play Northern
Illinois Friday at Ford Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
"I just think people were trying to make too many plays outside of the framework of the
(defense)," Falcons linebacker DJ Lynch said. "People weren’t doing their job enough. We were
just pressing too much. I felt like we got a little bit relaxed just because we knew we were playing in
the championship this week."
So clinching early can be a bad thing?
Babers said he has never been in a situation where his team wrapped up a conference title appearance so
early in the season. But he’s not pulling that same excuse as for the poor play, especially in last
week’s disappointing loss.
"I would hope that it’s not because as a college football player you only get so many opportunities
to play games," Babers said when asked if playing in a meaningless game led to a lackluster
"As a real football player you would like to think that you play any time you put on the shoulder
pads," he added.
REMINISCING: Babers recalled watching the MAC title game last year, a 47-27 win over Northern Illinois
for Bowling Green.
Babers’ interest in the game was peaked because his Eastern Illinois team had played Northern Illinois
earlier in the season.
"When the game came on I was on my sofa watching this football team play Northern Illinois because
we had an experience with Northern Illinois," Babers said. "I saw an unbelievable effort, I
saw an unbelievable enthusiasm, I saw a team that loved playing together. … I thought it just radiated
through the television about how much this football team enjoyed playing."
A CHAMPION’S MIND: Bowling Green right guard Alex Huettel reiterated that he and his teammates have to
quickly move on from the last two weeks in order to prepare for the MAC championship game.
"The way you prepare every week is going to build confidence," he said. "If you have a
great week of practice you’re going to be confident for that game. It’s a championship mentality. … Even
going to class. You have to go to class as a champion. That’s the type of week that it is.
"This one can erase all the bad that has happened to this point," he said.
POTHOLES: The Falcons’ offense has been nothing short of inconsistent this season. Despite those
inconsistencies Bowling Green is averaging 30.8 points per game and 439.5 yards per game.
Babers has noted since early in the season that it will be well into its second season before the offense
performs at a higher level of consistency and fluidness.
"I feel like I’m driving through Detroit with those potholes when the weather hits," Babers
said of the offense. "Sometimes you get smooth road and then all of the sudden you hit a pothole.
And really that’s because of all the injuries we’ve had."
KNAPKE: Quarterback James Knapke has been given a full vote of confidence by Babers and his teammates. He
will start in the MAC title game against Northern Illinois. As for how long he will play? It just
"It comes down to what’s happening on the football field," Babers said. "… Head coaches
and quarterbacks sometimes get blamed for things that are not their fault. We understand that’s part of
the roles of having those shoes. A lot of things that people think is just the quarterback’s fault,
there’s other reasons for it. That position is totally judged by the head coach and how I feel he’s
playing, not necessarily how everybody else thinks he’s playing."

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