After six weeks of matchups against winning football teams, Temple will finally face an opponent with a losing record when Mid-American Conference foe Bowling Green visits Lincoln Financial Field Saturday. The Falcons arrive in Philadelphia with a 1-5 record, with their lone win being a 44-28 victory over Marshall on Sept. 18.
The Falcons boast the third-best passing offense in the MAC, but this distinction comes from quantity, not quality. Most of the Falcons’ offense comes from the air because the team is lacking on the ground. Ranking No. 118 of 120 teams, Bowling Green’s rushing attack is close to dead last in college football, with an average 71.3 rushing yards per game. Senior running back Willie Geter, who is the only Falcon with triple-digit rushing yards, leads the Falcons on the ground with 406 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Redshirt-freshman quarterback Matt Schilz runs Bowling Green’s offense. In four games, Schilz, who missed two season games with a shoulder injury, has gone 93-for-145 with 941 yards, four passing touchdowns and five interceptions. Combined, Schilz and sophomore quarterback Aaron Pankratz have thrown the ball 218 times in six games for 1,470 passing yards and eight touchdowns.
The Falcons’ defense, which gives up an average 38.8 points per game, is not very effective. The one category their defense does excel in is turnovers. Bowling Green has forced a MAC-leading 18 turnovers with seven recovered fumbles and 11 interceptions. Of those 11 interceptions, which put the Falcons at third in the NCAA, three have been returned for touchdowns.
The Owls’ best chance to defeat the Falcons will likely come from the sophomore running back tandem of Matt Brown and Bernard Pierce. Brown is the team’s leading rusher with 477 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Pierce, who has been nursing a left-ankle sprain for the past two weeks, had just three carries for six yards against Northern Illinois. But when Pierce is healthy, he is a force. In five games, he racked up 349 yards and five touchdowns.
Given the struggles of the team’s passing attack, which ranks No. 111 and averages 143 passing yards per game, running game looks like the more appealing option for the Owls. Redshirt-junior quarterback Chester Stewart has gone 71-for-132 for 831 passing yards with four passing touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also fumbled the ball away to opponents on four different occasions this season and consistently overthrows receivers. Due to this performance, redshirt-freshman Chris Coyer or redshirt-junior Mike Gerardi may see action under center during the team’s homecoming game.
Kickoff is at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on 1340 WHAT AM.