2006 Opponent Preview: Bowling Green

After opening the Big Ten with tough match-ups against Penn State and Iowa, Ohio State will take a respite from the conference wars on Oct. 7 when it hosts Bowling Green from the Mid-American Conference. Today, we take a look at BG, which turns to Anthony Turner at quarterback.

Here is the sixth in a Bucknuts.com series on Ohio State's 2006 football opponents as well as a preview, as the days wear on, for the Big Ten in 2006. We continue with the Oct. 7 game against Bowling Green.

Bowling Green

* Date, Time: Sat., Oct. 7, time TBA (likely noon on ESPN-Plus syndication).

* Location: Ohio Stadium.

* Last Year, Bowl: 6-5. MAC East: 5-3/first (tie).

* Coach: Gregg Brandon (fourth year at BGSU, 26-11)

* Returning Starters: 11. Offense (6): WR Ruben Ruiz, LT Drew Nystrom, C Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Derrick Markray, TE Sean O'Drobinak, WR Corey Partridge. Defense (5): DT Brad Williams, DE Devon Parks, WLB Terrel White, CB Antonio Smith, FS Deaundre Perry. Specialists (0): None.

* Last League Championship: 1992.

* Last Bowl Appearance: 2004.

* Series Vs. Ohio State: This will be the fourth-ever meeting between OSU and Bowling Green. OSU is 3-0 with wins in 1992 (17-6), 1997 (44-13) and 2003 (24-17).

* Schedule: Sept. 2, vs. Wisconsin (at Cleveland); Sept. 9, Buffalo; Sept. 16, at Florida International; Sept. 24, Kent State; Sept. 30, at Ohio U.; Oct. 7, at Ohio State; Oct. 14, Eastern Michigan; Oct. 19, at Central Michigan; Oct. 28, at Temple; Nov. 4, at Akron; Nov. 15, Miami (Ohio); Nov. 21, at Toledo.

* Outlook: A 44-41 double overtime loss to rival Toledo in the season finale cost BGSU a berth in the MAC title game. Under Brandon, BGSU again figures to be in the race.

"We've gotten to the level we're at because we've recruited some talented players, and we've rode some great offenses," Brandon said. "It's been a fun ride so far."

The Falcons must regroup after quarterback Omar Jacobs bolted a year early for the NFL. That job could fall to talented sophomore Anthony Turner, although he will miss the season opener due to a suspension. Redshirt freshman Freddie Barnes was likely to start Saturday against Wisconsin before settling into another spot on offense.

"I feel very comfortable with Freddie Barnes, with running the offense, managing it," Brandon said. "I like the way he's stepped up as a leader. He's improving every day as a passer."

The running back and wide receiver corps were also depleted by graduation losses, but Lichtensteiger and Markray are considered two of the top linemen in the MAC.

Defensively, Parks will be back for his third year as a starter at end, while rangy sophomore Diyral Briggs (6-4, 216) moves in at the other end spot. The secondary should be strong with Smith and Perry, who missed the end of last season due to medical concerns.

* Jerry Rudzinski Says: This is a fork in the road for Bowling Green. Urban Meyer came in and they had five straight winning seasons and went to some bowl games. Gregg Brandon comes in and takes over and they've had some success with him. They were picked to win the MAC last year. They tied for the division, but only ended up 6-5 overall.

Are they going to stay on top in the MAC or are they going to fall down a bit? I think it's a critical season for them. They will try and eke out as many wins as they can. Losing Omar Jacobs was huge for them. He threw 25 touchdowns last year. The offensive line has two guys with NFL potential in Markray and Lichtensteiger and that can only help the young quarterback.

A concern that BG has to have is two true freshman kickers. That may also play a part in a game like this at Ohio Stadium. If BG is to pull off an upset like this, they have to do all of the little things right. Their defense is also pretty young as well. That's scary. You want to count on your seniors and your juniors, not true freshmen on the defensive line.

* Steve Helwagen Says: This will be one of those tailor-made MAC fill-in games for the Big Ten and, in this instance, Ohio State. OSU will have just come off back-to-back tough Big Ten games against Penn State and Iowa. There could be a letdown, and that could be dangerous.

I think back to 2003, when Brandon brought his first BGSU team to Ohio Stadium and the Falcons had the ball late, hoping to force overtime in a 24-17 loss to the Buckeyes. Nobody was laughing that day, I can assure you.

The torch at quarterback for BGSU has been passed from Josh Harris, who gave OSU his best shot, to Omar Jacobs and now on to Anthony Turner.

Last year's schedule was a tough one for BG they scored six touchdowns on the road at Wisconsin in a 56-42 loss. They also went to Boise State and lost a tough one there. And then the loss to Toledo in double OT and that cost BG a spot in the MAC title game. They have not won the conference since 1992.

Like many of the OSU-MAC games, my guess is OSU's edge in depth, size and speed will wear the Falcons down and the Buckeyes will pull away late.

Below are archives of past opponent previews:

Game 1: Northern Illinois

Game 2: Texas

Game 3: Cincinnati

Game 4: Penn State

Game 5: Iowa

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