Opponents preview: Bowling Green overview

BadgerNation.com's introduction to the Wisconsin football team's first opponent for the 2005 season

Bowling Green Scout.com site

How the Falcons fared in 2004: 9-3 overall, 6-2 Mid-American Conference

2004 results
(Links to Associated Press game stories, via BGSUFalcons.com. Home team in CAPS)

Sept. 4 – OKLAHOMA 40, Bowling Green 24
Sept. 11 – BOWLING GREEN 49, SE Missouri St. 10
Sept. 24 – NORTHERN ILLINOIS 34, Bowling Green 17
Oct. 2 – Bowling Green 70, TEMPLE 16
Oct. 9 – Bowling Green 38, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 14
Oct. 16 – BOWLING GREEN 51, Ball State 13
Oct. 23 – Bowling Green 41, OHIO 16
Oct. 30 – BOWLING GREEN 41, Eastern Michigan 20
Nov. 6 – BOWLING GREEN 52, Western Michigan 0
Nov. 13 – BOWLING GREEN 56, Marshall 35
Nov. 23 – TOLEDO 49, Bowling Green 41
Dec. 22 – Bowling Green 52, Memphis 35 (GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala.)

2005 schedule (home games in CAPS)

Sept. 3 – at Wisconsin
Sept. 10 – at Ball State
Sept. 21 – at Boise State
Oct. 1 – TEMPLE
Oct. 8 – OHIO
Oct. 15 – at Buffalo
Oct. 29 – AKRON
Nov. 5 – at Kent State
Nov. 15 – at Miami of Ohio
Nov. 22 – TOLEDO

Starters returning: 13 (6 offense, 6 defense, 1 kicker)

Coach Gregg Brandon: Entering his third season as a head coach, and at the helm of the Falcons, Brandon is 20-6 overall. He spent 22 years as a college assistant, including two at BG, before becoming the Falcons' head coach.

Versus Wisconsin: The Badgers won their only previous meeting with Bowling Green, a 39-18 decision in 1992.

Falcons' 2004 season in brief

Bowling Green enjoyed its third consecutive season with at least nine wins and set a school record with 29 wins over the past three campaigns. And there is certainly no shame in the Falcons' three losses last year, all of which came on the road: a season-opening defeat to BCS Championship game qualifier Oklahoma and conference losses to Northern Illinois and Toledo. After opening the year 1-2, BG bounced back to win eight of its last nine games, including an electrifying 52-35 win over Memphis in the GMAC Bowl when sophomore quarterback Omar Jacobs threw for 365 yards and five touchdowns.

That season-capping performance was seemingly just another day at the office for Jacobs, who had one of the most prolific seasons in college football history. Directing the nation's No. 2 ranked offense, Jacobs set an NCAA Division I-A record for touchdown-to-interception ratio with an unbelievable 41 scoring passes and just four interceptions.

Jacobs threw for 4,002 yards on a team that averaged more than 500 yards a game. Receivers Cole Magner, Charles Sharon and Steve Sanders combined for a ridiculous 198 receptions for 2,800 yards and 31 touchdowns. Tailback P.J. Pope pitched in a school record 1,603 all-purpose yards and 21 touchdowns.

If only the Falcons' defense had been a little better, BG could have been truly scary. Bowling Green gave up nearly 400 yards a game, though domination of the turnover battle helped the Falcons yield a comparatively minimal 23.5 points per game.

In the three losses, however, BG allowed 41 points and 498.7 yards per game. In nine wins, the Falcons yielded 17.7 points and 356.3 yards per game.

Looking ahead to 2005

Bowling Green loses five starters on offense: Magner, who finished his career with a school record 215 receptions, three offensive linemen that helped BG allow just 13 sacks despite throwing the ball 472 times, and a tight end.

But with Jacobs, Pope, Sharon, Sanders, left tackle Rob Warren and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger returning and a deep corps of receivers and running backs in reserve, Bowling Green's offense could be even more prolific this time around.

Watch for Pope to, for the third consecutive season, rush for more than 1,000 yards and catch passes for more than 400. With teams forced to focus on Jacobs, this could be a true breakout year for Pope, who managed to find time to catch 50 passes last season while being his team's featured runner.

Not that many teams will slow down Jacobs, who was a first-year starter in his breakout 2004 campaign.

The good news for the defense is that they return 28 of 35 letterwinners. The bad news is that five of the seven departing lettermen were starters, including four all-league selections. Safeties Keon Newson and T.J. Carswell may be particularly tough to replace.

And the departure of kicker Shaun Suisham cannot be overestimated. In four seasons for the Falcons, Suisham made an NCAA-record 226 extra points on a MAC-record 233 attempts. He made all 69 point after tries last year, and was 14 of 20 on field goal attempts to set a MAC record for kickers with 111 points. He made 45 of 66 career field goal attempts in his career.

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