Ohio @ Bowling Green - MACtion to Get you out of Last Night's Traction
Ohio @ Bowling Green
I do think Bowling Green will win pretty handily tonight, though perhaps not by the 38 points my lines project. I think there has to be some regression to the mean in this game, as both teams have been experiencing some extreme highs and lows in their run and pass offenses and defenses.
Let's start with what I think probably won't be responsible for the eventual Bobcat bludgeoning -- the passing match ups. Does that surprise you, as BGSU has a top 10 rated pass offense?
Ohio has just an average pass defense, but there are reasons to believe they won't let BGSU throw for the 11.3 yards per pass average they have against their conference foes in the last four games. None of those four teams had horrible pass defenses, either, actually, in spite of being the mid-tier MAC teams one and all. Ohio has surrendered less than 7 yards per pass in conference play this year, but mostly against some pretty bad offenses. The one exception is Western Michigan, who has a good pass offense. Ohio held them to 6.9 ypp, 1.2 ypp less than WMU usually averages.
So there's a chance that Ohio holds BGSU to an 8+ ypp average or thereabout tonight. My numbers project higher, at 9+, and here's why: while Ohio held WMU below their ypp average, they've still allowed teams to meet or beat their ypp average in 5 of 7 games this year. No team except Minnesota had a really good game throwing against them, and we've seen that Minnesota is capable of doing that on any given day, apparently, judging by their near win versus Michigan last week with a great day passing the ball. Ultimately, Ohio hasn't faced a pass offense as good as BGSU's this season, and they are on the road, where their pass defense hasn't been as good either. They've had some extra time to prepare for this game, we'll see if it helps.
Ohio's passing game started off the season pretty well but has strangely been pretty bad against the weak conference pass defenses they've faced. BGSU doesn't have a very good pass defense, but with the little bit of extra time to prepare for this game you'd have to think that Ohio gets its' passing game back on track a little here, because God help them, if they don't, it's going to get beyond ugly.
So, BGSU likely won't pass the ball at the amazing levels they have lately, while Ohio could certainly improve on their recent poor passing performances. If this happens, can BGSU still win by 20+ points? Yes, and it's because of the rush match ups.
You may be surprised to know that by my rankings Ohio has a bottom five rush defense. If memory serves one of their top defense players went down 2-3 weeks ago and Ohio's defense instantly week to shreds. It might have been LB Poling. At any rate, they were still below average when their whole squad was healthy. They gave up a whopping 430 rush yards to WMU two games ago, and let BUFF run for a full yard higher than their season ypc average in a game where BUFF had the lead pretty much start to finish. How do you think they'll do defending the run against BGSU when they have to worry about the pass so much?
BGSU has been okay running the ball, and that's been against a pretty tough schedule of run defenses. In this last month of blow outs they've still done well enough with the run to convert 3rd downs and keep the ball away from the opponent, averaging 172 rush yards in conference play. They've also run it for 54% of their plays in conference, much more than the out of conference games that saw them tied or trailing entering the fourth quarter (oddly enough they were tied after 3 quarters 3 games in a row against MD, MEM and PUR). So yeah, they rate to run the ball a fair amount in this game. Ohio can't cheat against the run or pass without getting burned in this game.
Conversely, Ohio's run game is disintegrating as the season progresses. They might have the worst rush offense in the FBS over their last 4 games, it's been that bad. After playing and struggling against two good running teams to start the season, TENN and MD, BGSU's rush defense has been much better. Sure, they haven't faced even one above average run offense in that span, but they've still held those opponents to almost a full yard less than their usual ypc average. Um, yeah, Ohio's run offense, as mentioned, is not above average.
Putting it all together, it looks like Ohio will have to rely on a passing game that has struggled mightily lately to stay in this game. At the same time, Ohio won't be able to stop BGSU on land or by air. Look for BGSU to get out to a double digit halftime lead and lean on the run in the second half, adding a few more scores while mostly keeping the ball away from Ohio.
Final Score Prediction: Ohio 14 -- BGSU 52 (though even that seems a bit high to me, lol. 40+ at the minimum though, I'm pretty sure).