After an emotionally-charged 34-29 win last Saturday against Texas at FedEx Field, Maryland (1-0, 0-0) heads to Ohio for their first true road game against the Bowling Green Falcons (0-1, 0-0).
This is just the second matchup between these two teams. The last time they faced off was in 2015 at College Park; the Terps fell to the Falcons, 48-27.
Now just three years later, the rosters and coaching staffs are completely different.
Mike Jinks is at the helm for Bowling Green, in his third year as head coach. He has a 6-18 record in his first two seasons with the Falcons. Last year, the team finished 2-10 and went 2-6 in the Mid-American Conference.
In the team’s opener, it jumped out to a 10-0 lead at No. 23 Oregon before falling apart and eventually losing 58-24. Despite the lopsided finish, multiple players stood out for Bowling Green.
The team is led on offense by two sophomores in quarterback Jarret Doege and running back Andrew Clair. Doege rushed for 113 yards on 25 carries last Saturday, while Doege went for 22-for-38 with 253 yards and three touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Scott Miller was the recipient of most of Doege’s completions, catching 13 passes for 166 yards and two scores.
“We’re going to have to do a good job on offense staying up and scoring points, which is always our job, and also at times possessing the football to make sure our defense has a chance to get themselves back together,” head coach Matt Canada said at his weekly Tuesday news conference.
While Bowling Green was able to move the ball with relative success against a nationally-ranked opponent, the team did turn the ball over three times, two of which were Doege interceptions.
That’s a great sign for a stingy Maryland team which forced three turnovers against Texas and didn’t turn the ball over once.
Maryland will be hoping to get their running game jump-started against Bowling Green. While the Terps rushed for 143 yards last week, the team averaged just 3.1 yards per rush. Senior running back Ty Johnson, who led the team in rushing last year, was held to 30 yards on 11 carries.
Last year, Football Outsiders ranked Bowling Green the worst run defense in the FBS; last week, Oregon rushed for 212 yards on 5 yards per carry against the Falcons.
Maryland should also have its way through the air; Football Outsiders ranked Bowling Green 114th in pass defense out of 130 teams, and the Falcons gave up multiple big-play touchdowns against Oregon.
Despite the perceived advantage, Canada stressed the importance of not overlooking what many view as a lesser opponent.
“I know our older players played Bowling Green a couple years ago,” Canada said. “I’ve played Bowling Green. Our older players are doing a good job of letting (younger players) know it’s a pretty good football team we’re playing. Every game is the game. And every game is the biggest game of the year and that’s how we’re approaching it.”
Kickoff is set for Saturday at 6 p.m. at Doyt L. Perry Stadium. The game can be streamed on ESPN+.