Bowling Green (8-4, 6-2 MAC) vs. Tulsa (9-4, 6-2 C-USA)
January 6 (Sunday) - 8:00 p.m. (ET)/7:00 (CT)
Ladd Peebles Stadium (40,600/Field Turf) - Mobile, Ala.
Television: ESPN (Rece Davis, Lou Holtz, Mark May)
Bowling Green (8-4, 6-2 MAC) vs. Tulsa (9-4, 6-2 Conference USA)
Head Coaches: BG-Gregg Brandon (38-23, fifth season); Tulsa-Todd Graham (9-4, first season at Tulsa; 16-10, second season overall; went 7-6 in one year, 2006, at Rice).
Series: Tulsa won the only meeting between these schools, that a 45-10 decision in 1989.
ABOUT THE FALCONS:
For the third time in five seasons under Gregg Brandon, the Falcons will be playing in a bowl. Brandon also guided BG to a 2003 Motor City Bowl triumph over Northwestern, 28-24, and a 2004 GMAC Bowl victory over Memphis, 52-35. Brandon has had a different quarterback in each of the three bowl games.
This year’s signal caller is sophomore Tyler Sheehan, who has tossed for 23 touchdowns this season in his first year as a starter. Sheehan has completed 289-of-457 attempts for 3,123 yards and just 11 interceptions in guiding the Falcons to eight wins, the most of any MAC team.
All-around talent Anthony Turner will challenge any defense. Turner paces the falcons’ ground game with 501 rush yards for nine touchdowns and had completed 4-of-5 pass attempts for 65 yards and three scores. As well, he has grabbed 16 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. Willie Geter has supported the run game with 6.5 yards per carry, gaining 426 yards on 66 attempts. The BG receiving corps is led by Freddie Barnes with his 77 receptions for 891 yards and nine touchdowns. Marques Parks has just 28 receptions but five of them for touchdowns.
The Falcons go into the bowl game with four consecutive wins. Two of BG’s losses this year were to bowl bound squads - Michigan State and Boston College, squared off against each other in the Dec. 28 Champs Sports Bowl.
Tulsa will offer the nation’s top offense that averages 524 yards and nearly 40 points a game. Golden Hurricane quarterback Paul Smith, a first-team All-Conference USA selection, passed for 4,753 yards and 42 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 12 touchdowns
Smith is a first-team Academic all-American and was awarded the annual Wuerffel Trophy that is presented to the college player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
Tarrion Adams leads the ground game with 1,113 yards and seven touchdowns as a complement to the Tulsa passing attack.
The Golden Hurricane features two second-team all-conference wide receivers. Trae Johnson has 67 receptions for 1,039 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Brennan Marion has just 39 receptions for 488 yards but 11 of those have resulted in touchdowns. In addition, Charles Clay has 58 receptions for 955 yards and six touchdowns.
Tulsa is the only Conference USA team that did not have back-to-back losses this season. Two of the Golden Hurricane defeats came at the hands of UCF, one in the regular season and one in the C-USA Championship game. Tulsa also has a loss to Tostitos Fiesta Bowl participant Oklahoma.
All-Conference USA Selections:
First Team: Paul Smith, qb; Chris Chamberlain, lb; Nelson Coleman, lb; Second Team: Trae Johnson, wr; Brennan Marion, wr; Moton Hopkins, dl. Honorable Mention: Tarrion Adams, rb; Charles Clay, rb; Justin Morsey, ol; Roderick Thomas, ol; Brandon Jones, dl; Alain Karatepeyan, lb; Steve Craver, db; Charles Davis, db; Anthony Germany, db; Roy Roberts, db and kick return; John Warren, long snapper.
Nick’s Pick: BGSU 28 – Tulsa 20
BGSU Coach Gregg Brandon always has his team ready for bowl games while Todd Graham performed a miracle at Rice in his only year as head coach and kept Tulsa on the top end of C-USA this year. The Falcons have so many weapons on offense while their defense has playmakers. Tulsa is an offensive juggernaut altogether. With the exception of last year’s Southern Miss 28-7 win over Ohio, the MAC has dominated C-USA in Mobile and something tells me that the Falcons will get the MAC back on the plus side again a very good Tulsa team. Expect a lower score than most prognosticators believe.