Bowling Green State University swept the Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week honors for games played through Sunday.
BGSU senior quarterback Matt McDonald was named offensive player of the week, linebacker Brock Horne was named defensive player of the week and senior punter Matt Naranjo was named special teams player of the week.
McDonald (Newport Beach, California) rushed for two touchdowns, accounting for all of BGSU’s scores in the 14-10 upset of Minnesota Saturday.
The BGSU win halted Minnesota’s 21-game winning streak against non-conference teams, which was the longest in the nation heading into the week.
McDonald navigated the BGSU offense against the nation’s No. 14 defense, which has only allowed 255 yards of total offense over the previous 120 minutes of football. His first rushing touchdown of the game snapped Minnesota’s streak of 87:24 of game time without allowing points.
Tailing in the late in the third quarter, 10-7, McDonald led BGSU on an 8-play, 65-yard drive to take the lead for good. His rush on a fourth-and-1 opportunity from the BG 43 went for 18 yards. Four plays later BG was in the end zone and on top for good. The 18-yard rush was BG’s longest of the game.
It is McDonald’s second MAC East Player of the Week honor this season. Despite suffering a 22-19 loss to South Alabama in the second game, McDonald was named MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week.
McDonald had the best game of his career, completing 23 of 32 passes for 308 yards, including the first offensive touchdown this season for the Falcons.
McDonald was recovering from offseason surgery and was on a pitch count not long before the season opener at Tennessee.
McDonald said it was hard being on a “pitch count” while the rest of the team prepared for the season opener.
“My competitive side just wanted me to go out there and take every rep. At times it was hard, but it was for the best, so it had to be done,” McDonald said.
McDonald said he noticed a change in tone on the first day BGSU players returned to camp this summer.
“It is definitely a process. We had a great offseason,” McDonald said. “We felt that the first day we came back for summer, you felt a change. Guys were happy to be here, guys were excited to be here, guys were hugging each other, and we missed each other when we were gone.
“I knew right then that it feels different, and it is a step in the right direction. We should have a good camp and get some momentum going into the season.”
McDonald says that first year in a starting role has given him confidence.
“I see the field a lot clearer. Even in the first practice, I could already feel a major change,” McDonald said. “I changed my mechanics when I recovered from my surgery, so I feel really confident about mechanics.”
Horne (Romeo, Michigan) was a key cog in helping Bowling Green upset Minnesota and holding the Gophers to 241 yards of total offense, while also forcing six three-and-outs.
The 241 yards of total offense was the fewest yards Minnesota has gained at home since a 2017 meeting with Wisconsin. The 241 yards of total offense was the fewest yards Minnesota gained at home against a non-“Power 5” school since 2009 against South Dakota State.
Horne led BGSU with nine tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. His sack pushed Minnesota out of field goal range early in the game, forcing the Gophers to punt.
Horne also forced a fumble with the ball in BGSU territory. The Falcons covered up the ball and stopped another Minnesota drive.
Naranjo (Skokie, Illinois) helped flip the field multiple times in BGSU’s upset at Minnesota. He averaged 44.1 yards per punt, had two pinned inside the 20-yard line and set a Huntington Bank Stadium record with a 77-yard punt against the Gophers.
The Falcons improved to 2-2 while Minnesota fell to 2-2.