The wounds for BGSU football has had a chance to heal thanks to a bye last week. After being outscored 149-27 over their past three games, the Falcons now travel to South Bend, Indiana, to take on ninth ranked Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish, who are coming off of a 35-20 win over Virginia last Saturday, is looking to keep their momentum rolling after losing to Georgia the week before. The Falcons come into the game 44.5-point underdogs. Here are three keys for the Falcons to be able to keep this one close.
1. Control time of possession
One of the biggest keys to winning any football game is to have the ball more than your opponent. This is especially key when going up against a top 10 team on the road. Notre Dame obviously has the better athletes, so keeping the ball out of the hands of those athletes would go a long way in keeping this one close. Ian Book has been great once again for the Fighting Irish, throwing for 993 yards, 8 touchdowns, and just 2 interceptions this season. If BGSU wants any chance of winning this game or even just keeping it close, they need to keep the ball out of his hands.
2. Take care of the ball
This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with the last key, because turning the ball over means giving the ball to the opposing team, and more specifically placing the ball in the hands of Ian Book. Currently, Bowling Green is giving the ball away an average of 1.3 times per game. While this number doesn’t seem to bad, and it isn’t, they need to be absolutely flawless against Notre Dame. Right now, the Irish are second in the country in takeaways per game, averaging a whopping 3.2. While Darius Wade might be under performing at quarterback this season, he isn’t lacking in experience. If the Falcons want to keep this one close, they need to make sure that they aren’t giving any extra possessions to the opposition.
3. Limit penalties
In order to control the possession in any game, a team needs to have long, drawn out drives that eventually end in a score. Ideally, you want to be able to run the ball well, draining clock and keeping third downs short. Too many penalties, though, and you will be forced to convert third and longs, and to put it frankly, I don’t see the Falcons being able to convert many long third downs against a top ten team. So for that reason, the Falcons need to make sure that they are limiting their penalties. The offensive line is going to struggle at times in this game, but at the very least they need to play disciplined, in order to give the Falcons a shot at keeping their drives going. Bowling Green has been fairly disciplined so far, committing an average of just 6 penalties per game through four games. That being said, they haven’t played in a hostile environment that Notre Dame is going to offer on Saturday. They might be a little nervous to begin the game, and that’s expected, but overall the BGSU has to play penalty free football in order to keep this one from getting out of hand.
Those are the three keys to the game for this Saturday. The game is set to kickoff at 3:30 p.m. and you can watch it on NBC.