Bulls head to Bowling Green for regular season finale

UB has another chance to clinch the MAC East Division and a spot in the Conference Championship game with a win on Friday

Jon Simon
November 21, 2018 - 3:02 pm

Photo: Noah K. Murray - USA TODAY Sports


Last week, UB football (9-2, 6-1) suffered a tough 52-17 loss to Ohio (7-4, 5-2) in a game that could’ve clinched a spot in the Mid-American Conference championship game for the Bulls with a win. Luckily for UB, they can still lock up the MAC East Division title and a spot in the conference championship game with a win at Bowling Green (3-8, 2-5) on Friday afternoon.

Interestingly enough, this game will be the third time the Bulls play Bowling Green with a chance to win the MAC East Division. Their most-recent matchup with the East Division on the line was back in 2013 at New Era Field, where the Falcons defeated UB 24-7 and went on to the MAC Title game in Detroit, Michigan.

In 2008, the Bulls won at Bowling Green 40-34 in double overtime to clinch a spot in the MAC Championship game. UB would, of course, go on to Detroit that season and win the program’s only MAC Championship to date.

The 2018 Bulls are fully aware of what’s at stake on Friday and they know, as a group, they need to bounce back from last week’s loss. One thing head coach Lance Leipold has said all year about this team is that they carry themselves well and know how to handle and respond to things the right way.

“Our guys know [the importance of the game],” Leipold stated. “We talked last week about where we could be at. [The players] pay attention. You can’t make games bigger than what they are. We want our guys to play the way they have the majority of this season, loose, aggressive and we have to execute. If we go out there and are afraid to make mistakes because we made plenty last week we’re going to have a tough day. We have to go out and play the game we’ve been playing it.”

Leipold also said he knew the players were disappointed about the Ohio loss and that they weren’t proud of their performance. However, the players responded well and have shown they’re back on track. They’ve put the loss behind them and are focused on Bowling Green.

“If we have to get them motivated to play for a conference championship then I have not done a very good job as a head coach,” Leipold said. “Everything that goes into what this game means is everything this group has talked about wanting to accomplish, many since the day they arrived on campus. But more importantly, last January when they returned to campus after being left out of a bowl game they wanted this type of opportunity. If you’re going to put all this time in for all that you have to do, why wouldn’t you do it to the fullest? With that being said, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy and that’s where we have to make sure we play well.”

Leipold admitted that looking at Bowling Green’s record doesn’t tell their whole story as a team. Despite being 3-8 overall and having an interim head coach take over in October, the Falcons come into their season finale riding a two-game win streak and, in Leipold’s eyes, are playing “their best football all year.”

“I think they’ve found some ways to be disruptive against the people that they play,” Leipold said about Bowling Green. “They’ve been getting stops when they need them and they’re getting a few turnovers. The case with some teams, and we’ve been there before, is that you’re not as far off sometimes as what the score indicates. Going out to Oregon to play, playing Maryland and playing Georgia Tech, that’s a pretty big bite of a non-conference schedule.”

Despite their struggles as a team, Bowling Green’s offense, statistically, is one of the better units in the conference. The Falcons rank second in the MAC in passing offense and are fifth in passing efficiency. Leading the Bowling Green offense is true sophomore quarterback Jarret Doege, and while he may be young, the Texas native has already seen a lot of action in his college career.

“He’s played for two seasons now and that’s a lot of snaps of FBS and MAC football,” Leipold said about Doege. “He’s seen it all, there’s not going to be anything new he hasn’t seen. We have to do a good job of mixing things up, executing and getting them in predictable down and distance-type situations.”

Doege’s top target, senior receiver Scott Miller is a player to watch as well. The former first team All-MAC player leads the conference in catches per game and reception yards per game. He also has the most reception yards in the MAC this season.

“I know Miller has played a ton of football in this conference,” Leipold said. “When impact players at skill positions make an impact early in their career, it seems like they’re on that team forever, and they kind of are in some ways. He’s been there since Dino Babers was there and they were really rolling offensively, and they still have some of those types of weapons there now. That’s what makes them dangerous. Three to five plays can really tilt a game, even ones as lopsided as last week’s. [Bowling Green] may feel that way, if there were a few plays that didn’t happen, they’re in a lot better shape as a program.”

Friday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPNU. Kickoff on from Bowling Green, Ohio is scheduled for 12 p.m. You can also listen to the full game, along with pre-game and post-game coverage on ESPN 1520.

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