Bowling Green State University football seeks to remain in contention in the Mid-American Conference East Division, hosting Western Michigan at Doyt L. Perry Stadium tonight at 7.
The Falcons, 4-4 overall and 3-1 in the MAC, are tied with Ohio (5-3, 3-1) for second place behind Buffalo (5-3, 4-0) in the East Division. The Falcons have won two straight and three of their last four games.
Tonight’s game begins the “MACtion” portion of the schedule, which means games get weekday primetime national television exposure.
BGSU coach Scot Loeffler took his players to Perry Stadium to get used to playing under the lights.
Plus, the Falcons got four extra days from their usual weekly contests to prepare, including the weekend.
“Really like the schedule with this MACtion coming up, in terms of preparation time,” Loeffler said. “But really like the time that you can use on the weekend for preparation. And we’re going to need it.”
BGSU junior nose guard Anthony Hawkins and senior tight end Christian Sims said the extra time helps players heal.
“I think this (Saturday) bye has been tremendous for us,” Hawkins said. “That time off during the season that we needed it badly.
“It was good for us to get in there and get our bodies back, kind of like a reset almost. We’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Sims added, “Playing at this level, recovery is a very important part. We’re working with (trainers) icing and whatever needs to be done really.
“We’ve still got a lot of football left to play in our season. It’s not done,” Sims continued. “There are still goals that needs to be reached.
“We take this bye-week day serious, everybody gets into recovery, gets their body back right, so when it’s time to go play a game we’re at full strength.”
Western comes in 3-5 overall and 2-2 in the MAC with wins over New Hampshire (44-7), Miami (16-10) and Ball State (37-30).
“This Western Michigan team, I think is very good. They’re very equivalent to Miami of Ohio. The Miami of Ohio and Western Michigan game looked very similar to the Miami game and Bowling Green game,” Loeffler said.
Hawkins says Western brings a solid offensive line.
“They are similar to Miami. They have a pretty good front five,” Hawkins said. “It’s going to be a tough game for us, but we just have to do our thing.”
Sims added, “They play fast, they play hard, and they are very well-coached. It’s just not going to be an easy game.”
Third season within a season
Loeffler has stated several times that the final four games, the “MACtion” portion of the schedule, is like the third season after the first season playing out of the conference and the second season, playing MAC teams on a traditional basis every Saturday.
Loeffler emphasized that preparation does not change.
“No, I think everything stays the same. We have reduced the contact that we’re doing in practice just because it’s that time of year,” Loeffler said.
“Our guys are beat up. I think the long week really came at the right time. We had some guys that were banged up that we’re going to get back.
“But our pace and how we approach business needs to upgrade, to be quite honest with you. Besides taking the some of the physical contact out of practice, our pace, our rhythm, how we do business needs to get upgraded.
“This is going to be the toughest part of our schedule in my opinion. Western Michigan, just like I said, it’s a very difficult prep on defense. They do a lot of things.
WMU coach Tim Lester is a really good offensive coach and he’s had extra time to work on the BGSU defense, Loeffler said.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us and we need to make sure that we’re using every single second of time for preparation,” he said. “We’ve used these last couple days to really dive into Western inside and out to gain a little bit more time on them, because we’re going to need it. I think this is a really quality opponent. We’ve got to play our best. That’s who we are.
“All these games are the same. I hate sounding like a broken record, but they really are. Everyone’s the same. Anyone can win,” Loeffler said. “It’s the team that takes care of the football, makes the most explosions, runs the ball well enough and can stop the run. We’ve got a tough, tough week ahead of us for sure.”
Because of favorable weather in the forecast, Loeffler believes this could be a game where BGSU fans fill up the seats, instead of displaying an almost empty stadium to a national audience.
“I think it’s a very comparable opponent and it’s going to be an exciting night in the Doyt on Wednesday night. It’s going to be a beautiful evening,” Loeffler said.
“Absolutely perfect for football and we need all the community, and we need all the students out for this game. This is a big game for our program and just like I said, it’s not going to be a sideways rain and wind and snow like it normally is at this time.
“We’re going to have a beautiful evening. I think the game time temperature will be right around 58 degrees. I think it’s going to be an unbelievable opportunity for people to get out and watch our team play.”