Bowling Green State University football is heading to Buffalo this Saturday to take on a team that defeated Akron, 45-10, in Akron, last Saturday.
The Bulls are riding high, winning two Mid-American Conference games in a row to improve to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the MAC. The Bulls have held fourth quarter leads in six of their eight games this season
BGSU has lost four in a row, including a 35-20 defeat at the hands of Akron at Doyt L. Perry Stadium. The Falcons, 2-6 and 0-4, last won at Minnesota, 14-10.
“No disrespect to any of the teams that we have played, but no one has beat us. We’ve beat our ourselves completely. It’s been BG on BGSU,” BGSU coach Scot Loeffler said.
“When you have nine penalties and all nine of which never occurred during a play, pre-snap penalties, an unsportsmanlike conduct, and that’s discipline,” he said. “Just like I said after the game, that’s on me. We need to become more disciplined. We will with time and age, but that needs to be addressed.”
Did the Falcons’ become too confident after beating a Big Ten team five weeks ago?
“No, not at all. We’re too young to even remotely think that win got in our way,” Loeffler said. “For a young team, I thought they handled that quite well. I thought our juice and our energy the next week at Kent (27-20 BGSU loss) was great. We just didn’t find a way to finish five or six plays.”
Nonetheless the sense of urgency Loeffler talks about is multiplied because it does not get any easier this week.
Since the 2017 season, the Bulls have more wins than any other school in the MAC. Buffalo has 34 wins over that span. Toledo is second with 32 followed by Western Michigan which has 29.
The Bulls have won the last four meetings with Bowling Green and have averaged 43 points per game over those contests. Last year, they piled up 396 yards rushing during a 42-17 win over BGSU.
Dylan McDuffie, a 6-0, 207-pound junior running back, has rushed for 100 yards in each of the last two games and has scored a touchdown in five of the last six games.
Twenty-two of Buffalo’s 31 offensive touchdowns this season have come on the ground. The Bulls lead the MAC and are tied for eighth in the nation in rushing touchdowns.
Kevin Marks, a 6-0, 203-pound senior running back, is one rushing touchdown shy of tying James Starks (2006-08) for second in school history with 34 and Marks (2,989 yards) is 11 yards shy of becoming just the sixth player in program history to rush for 3,000 career yards.
“Very good team. They were exceptional last year. The back was exceptional. They’re still really good, though. They play hard,” Loeffler said. “We have to play our very best game and stay out of our own way to give ourselves a chance. This is a team that we have to drag into the fourth quarter and find a way to win at the end.”
In addition, after only throwing two touchdown passes over the first five games, Buffalo 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior quarterback Kyle Vantrease has thrown six in the last three games.
BGSU counters with 6-3, 210-pound senior quarterback Matt McDonald, who is No. 2 in the MAC in passing yards (1,864) and passing yards per game (233).
This is where a clash presents itself because the Bulls have only allowed 75 yards passing in each of the last two games.
Plus, BGSU is coming off a game where Eastern Michigan had success knocking down McDonald’s passes at the line of scrimmage, which Loeffler blames on the offensive line.
BGSU 6-4, 290-pound senior offensive right tackle Jordan Murphy says it’s time to buckle down.
“Every day we have to wake up, we have to be focused, we have to be thinking about every play matters,” Murphy said. “We have to be elite with what we do. We can’t just be going out there and sleepwalking.
“I know that the weather might be bad, it might be cold, we might be tired, but we have to make sure we are playing with the same energy every single day. That is going to be important leading up to this Saturday.”