In an effort to both pass judgment on Ohio State’s 2020 football schedule and also to preview each of those matchups, we have decided to begin a series ranking and previewing the Buckeyes’ opponents this season in order of difficulty, from least to most.
Up first, the Bowling Green State University Falcons.
Rank: 12 — Bowling Green
Bowling Green is in the second year of the Scot Loeffler Era, which means it’s still going to take some time to get this program where he would like it. This is an offense that scored 16.0 points per game last year and will need to double that if they are going to contend in the MAC (and keep up with their defense).
Sept 5 at Ohio State (L)
Sept 12 Robert Morris (W)
Sept 19 at Illinois (L)
Sept 26 Buffalo (L)
Oct 3 Liberty (L)
Oct 10 Miami OH (L)
Oct 17 at Toledo (L)
Oct 24 at Ohio (L)
Nov 4 Kent State (L)
Nov 14 at Akron (W)
Nov 21 at Eastern Michigan (L)
Nov 27 Northern Illinois (W)
The goal this year for the Falcons is to finish .500 and if they can beat Toledo for a second year in a row while they do it, all the better.
Five Questions Looking For Answers
1. Is Scot Loeffler really the answer?
2. Will quarterback Matt McDonald be worth the wait?
3. Can this defense stop anybody?
4. Can the offensive line be at least good enough to not be an issue?
5. Can the defensive line protect these linebackers and allow them to work?
Something To Look For
There are high hopes for fourth-year junior Matt McDonald, who transferred from Boston College prior to last season. McDonald was denied immediate eligibility, so he had to sit out last season and watch an offense that he was unable to make better. McDonald was a 3-star signee from Mission Viejo, CA who chose BC over Cornell. He decided to leave Boston College when his position coach Loeffler decided to take the BG job. He knows the offense, but does knowing a Scot Loeffler offense really make a quarterback all that dangerous?
Five on offense, six on defense.
Tight end Quintin Morris (6-4 248) may have the best argument here. A former wide receiver, Morris led the team with 55 catches for 649 yards last year and is a mismatch for many defenders. He is also an improving blocker.
Linebacker Kholbe Coleman led the team with 103 tackles last year, earning a Third-Team All-MAC nod. The Alabama native tallied 14 tackles in last year’s 20-7 upset win over Toledo.
Best Chance For a Big Loss
At Ohio State. The 67-point loss to Ohio State for Bowling Green in 2016 shouldn’t be in jeopardy, unless Ryan Day suddenly feels wronged by somebody in Wood County for something.
Most Important Game
Sept 26 vs. Buffalo. Buffalo is one of the favorites in the MAC East and they’ll come to Doyt Perry Stadium for BG’s first conference game of the year. Nobody expects the Falcons to win, but if they do, it would set the tone for the season and give the program some necessary momentum.
Best Road Game To Pack Up The Family Truckster And Travel To
At Ohio State. Come to the game on Saturday (assuming you can get tickets), then visit COSI on Sunday (assuming it’s open). Who knows, maybe OSU will name Urban Meyer honorary captain for this game and you can get to cheer him as well.
Best Reason They Won’t Be Undefeated
Talent. Or more accurately, not enough of it. Bowling Green travels to Ohio State and Illinois this year. Even if they win those two games, they’re still only going to — at best — split at Toledo and at Ohio.
Best Reason They Will Be Undefeated
Game They Shouldn’t Lose, But Could
Robert Morris. Let’s be honest, this is the only game on the schedule that they should win, so this game goes here by default. And let’s not pretend Bowling Green is immune to losing to anyone right now.
Player People Are Expecting Too Much From
Quarterback Matt McDonald. He transferred over from Boston College, but has only played in two college games — against UMass and Holy Cross in 2018. The good news is he went 7-for-8 for two touchdowns in those two games. The bad news is it was against UMass and Holy Cross. It’s going to take much more than a quarterback from a Power 5 school to improve an offense that posted just 319.1 yards per game last year.
Player People Will Be Pleasantly Surprised By
Running back Andrew Clair. Clair missed most of the season last year due to injury, but has rushed for over 700 yards as both a freshman and sophomore. He will team with senior Bryson Denley, who stepped in for Clair last year. Both are talented receivers as well.
Cornerback Deshawn Jones. Jones reportedly had offers from Michigan and Penn State and was also once committed to Cincinnati. Three freshmen started at times in the Bowling Green secondary last year and one of them has transferred out. They need answers at cornerback and Jones is just about as good a bet as anybody else.
Something They Do Well
The Falcons return both their kicker and their punter, as well as their long-snapper. They also return their kickoff specialist. But to say they do these things “well” is probably stretching it. Senior kicker Nate Needham was 5-of-9 on field goals and 21-of-23 on extra points last year. Senior punter Matt Naranjo averaged 40 yards a punt last year. He punted about six times per game, so he’s a workhorse.
Something They Don’t Do So Well
Stop the run. This will be an issue against the Buckeyes. Only four teams allowed more yards rushing than BG did last year (242.8 ypg). It may be good news or bad news that the Falcons are replacing three starters on the defensive line. Five times last year they allowed 300 yards rushing in a game.
Talent. The talent is getting better thanks to a 31-man recruiting class that features 20 3-star signees. It probably won’t help them against Ohio State, but it could win them a game at Neyland next year.
What’s Gotten Worse?
The offensive line. Three starters depart and two-and-a-half starters return. Right guard Tim Tanner-Blair and right tackle Derek Downs are back. Left guard Sam Neverov started early in the season before being replaced. A new center and left tackle will be imperative and there aren’t a lot of options here.
Anything Else We Should Know About?
Players will return to campus on June 22, which means that Ohio State will have had a two-week headstart on preparing for their matchup with the Falcons. Will this advantage be too much for Bowling Green to overcome? Probably.
The linebackers have some possibilities. Kholbe Coleman is the most active tackler. Junior Jerry Roberts — who began his career on the baseball team — can get down the line quickly from his outside spot. They have two other guys with experience, but that’s about it.
A freshman quarterback will start at least one game for the Falcons this year.
Did you know (Media Guide factoid)
The only first-round NFL draft pick from Bowling Green is Bernie Casey, who went ninth overall in 1961. Casey finished his NFL career with over 5,000 yards receiving, but is better known as an actor who starred in movies such as Revenge of the Nerds where he was the head of the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity, Brian’s Song, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and many, many more.
“[Redshirt sophomore] Cameron [Stage] is going to take a shot at center. He is a very good athlete and he has worked really hard to put himself in a position to help our team. He has had a really good winter and spring.” — Offensive line coach Terry Malone, trying to speak this into existence.