Bowling Green State University football is riding high after the 34-31 overtime win over Marshall at Doyt Perry Stadium Saturday.
Marshall (2-1) had defeated Notre Dame, 26-21, one week earlier in South Bend, Indiana.
However, it will not get any easier for the Falcons this Saturday.
Bowling Green returns to the road to face Mississippi State of the Southeastern Conference at Davis Wade Stadium. The game will kick at noon and be broadcast live on the SEC Network.
But when you hear SEC, don’t let that scare you out of your wits. BGSU is 4-9 all-time against current members of the SEC, including 3-2 against Missouri and 1-2 against Kentucky.
Bowling Green and Mississippi State are meeting for the second time in series history. MSU won the only other meeting, 21-20, in 2013 at Davis Wade Stadium.
BGSU shut Mississippi State out in the second half but managed only seven points to fall by one.
This year, Mississippi State is 2-1 but the Bulldogs are coming off a 31-16 loss to LSU. Loeffler compares Mississippi State’s defensive style to one he’s seen from San Diego State.
“We’ve got an absolute huge challenge,” BGSU coach Scot Loeffler said. “This is just an upgraded version of what we just played. Super athletic, super physical.
“They can run like no other and their offense is challenging. Obviously, their defense is the same way.
“Mind you, San Diego State’s defense, it’s very difficult to identify, a lot of coverages in the back end, so we’ll have our hands full for sure,” Loeffler continued.
Loeffler said against Marshall, it took BGSU a while to catch up to the speed of the game. They have to find that speed right from the kickoff against Mississippi State.
“It took our kids about one quarter to figure out the type of speed we were playing, and that they were fast and physical, and they’ll just be an upgraded version of what we just saw on Saturday,” Loeffler said.
Loeffler says the Falcons cannot expect to go down two touchdowns, like they did against Marshall and Eastern Kentucky, and be able to come back against Mississippi State.
“They’re really good. Now what we’ve got to do is do what we did last week. We’ve got to hang in there on offense, just like we did.
“We hung in there and we gave our guys opportunities to make plays versus the right looks. They’re good on offense. They’re good on defense. They’re fast.”
Loeffler got a look at the Mississippi State-LSU game, and that two-touchdown win by the Tigers did not say a whole lot. Loeffler says it was much closer.
“LSU didn’t really do much until the very end of the game, and they found a way to beat them. They’re exceptional, they’re well-coached, they’re unique on defense.
“Mike Leach’s offense is always great, so we’ve got to bring our A-game and we’ve got to just be able to hang in there and be able to deal, for the first time, with crowd noise.
“It is loud as all get out down there, as loud as it gets. Played there a couple times and so it’s going to be a big challenge for our kids, for sure.”
Loeffler says it will be important to find a way to get to the quarterback, like the Falcons were able to do against Marshall.
“We started this thing a long time ago, by building the defensive front and building a really good front seven. We’ve got depth. We got depth at the D-line. We got depth at linebackers,” Loeffler said.
“They play really hard. We’re able to rotate guys in and out and we’re going to need that defense in terms of this league that we’re about ready to enter in after Mississippi State,”
Loeffler says defense will be important, not just against Mississippi State, but when the Falcons enter Mid-American Conference play, too.
“We’ve got to bring your defense. Especially in November, when it’s windy and cold and it’s hard to do a lot on offense,” Loeffler said. “Philosophy has always been to build the defense.”
Until it gets cold in MAC play, the Falcons will likely be dealing with heat in Mississippi Saturday.
That’s no problem for the Falcons after facing 100-plus temperatures in Pasadena, California against UCLA, and 80-degree temps in their past two home games. But, expect humidity in Mississippi.
“I think it’ll be worse. We’ve been having a complete hydration plan, in terms of dealing with it. I’ve coached at Florida, it’s a different type of heat,” Loeffler said.
“When you walked out in California, you didn’t think it was that hot. Eventually you felt it, but whenever you walk out on the field, you’re going to feel the heat immediately,” Loeffler continued.
“The humidity is through the roof and those guys get accustomed to playing in it. At the time, I was young and ran all the time and I could run all day in that heat. I was used to it, but not anymore, that’s for sure.”