Dan Mullen faces off against the school where he first worked under Urban Meyer. Mullen was the quarterbacks coach at Bowling Green for the 2001-02 seasons, when Josh Harris put up some big numbers for a high-octane offense.
This is MSU’s homecoming game, and the third in a stretch of four consecutive home games.
Bowling Green Falcons (Oct. 12, in Starkville)
• Conference: Mid-American
• 2012 record: 8-5 (6-2, 2nd Eastern Division)
• Final ranking: Not ranked
• Coach: Dave Clawson (22-28, four seasons)
• Returning starters: 20 (9 offense, 9 defense, 2 specialists)
• Last meeting: First meeting
• On the web: bgsufalcons.com
The Falcons averaged 365.5 yards per game last season, which ranked 91st in the country. So this team got it done with defense last year, allowing just 296.6 total yards per game (sixth in the country). Bowling Green was tough against the run (106.5 ypg, 12th) and the pass (190.1 ypg, 13th), and it allowed 16.8 points per game (10th).
With most of its experience back on that side of the ball, BGSU figures to be competitive in all its games, but especially the MAC. Athlon picked the Falcons to win the conference this fall. One big loss is defensive tackle Chris Jones, who was the MAC defensive player of the year.
There is plenty of talent coming back up front, including tackle Ted Ouellet (3.0 sacks, 6.0 TFLs). Also, tackle Jairus Campbell is expected to be a factor after missing 10 games last season with a foot injury. Linebacker Gabe Martin is back after leading the team in tackles last season with 70, to go with 4.5 sacks and 8.5 TFLs. Sacks, by the way, are something Bowling Green excelled at last year, averaging nearly three per game.
Safety BooBoo Gates and cornerback Cameron Truss lead a secondary that returns all four starters. There are four other defensive backs with experience, and the group as a whole boasts 123 career starts.
So about that offense – which by the way is not run by Clawson, who was offensive coordinator at Tennessee in 2008. Quarterback Matt Schilz, a senior with 35 career starts, is back. He put up modest numbers last season: 2,585 yards, 14 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 55.2 percent completion rate. Schilz will have all three starting receivers back this fall, including 6-foot-4 Chris Gallon (54 catches, 720 yards, six TDs).
More help from the running game would be good, but there’s a unique situation there. Anthon Samuel, who rushed for 998 yards and 11 TDs last year, left school in January to be with his wife and son in Florida, and there is no certainty he’ll return. So Bowling Green, which averaged 153.4 rushing yards per game, could be very unexperienced there.
The offensive line returns four starers. They did a good job protecting the quarterback last year, and the unit is led by senior guard Dominic Flewellyn, a third-team All-MAC selection.
If you want more on the Falcons, they did a nice job with their spring prospectus.
Up next: Kentucky