Ohio hosts Bowling Green Tuesday in its regular season finale, and the task is very simple.
Win, and Ohio makes the Mid-American Conference Championship game, lose, and it does not.
Here is everything to know about Ohio’s final regular season opponent:
Scot Loeffler entered his fourth season at the helm of Bowling Green as one of the most popular names on the preseason hot seat. After going 7-22 over his first three seasons, it seemed likely that another poor season would mean the end of his time at Bowling Green.
After an early-season loss to Football Championship Subdivision Eastern Kentucky, it looked like that was where things were headed, but then the Falcons turned their season around. They are currently 5-2 in the MAC, and despite some very close wins, they have reached bowl eligibility.
After a last-second 42-35 win over rival Toledo last week, all Bowling Green needs is a win and a Buffalo loss to Kent State to make the MAC Championship game.
After a couple of rough seasons as Bowling Green’s starter, senior Matt McDonald has taken a huge step forward in 2022. Coming into this year, McDonald had 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 17 games as a starter.
This year, however, he has thrown 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions. McDonald is also coming off probably his best game of the season against Toledo, in which he went 20-for-36 for 395 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
This year, McDonald has probably been the second best quarterback in the MAC, behind only Ohio’s Kurtis Rourke, a development that few would have seen coming after the last two seasons.
When it comes to Bowling Green’s receivers, there is really only one name to mention, Odieu Hiliare.
Hiliare was the Falcons leading receiver going into last week’s game against Toledo, but he only had 450 yards and four touchdowns on the season. Then he had one of the best games a receiver has had in college football this season, catching eight passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns.
After Hiliare, Bowling Green has really spread the ball around in the passing game. It has seven other receivers with at least 100 yards this season, but none of them have crossed the 400 mark.
Bowling Green’s rushing attack is one of the worst in the MAC, ranking above only Akron in yards, yards per game and yards per attempt.
The Falcons’ leading rusher is Jaison Patterson, who has carried the ball 122 times this season for 543 yards and just one touchdown.
As a team, Bowling Green has just seven rushing touchdowns this season, five fewer than any other team in the conference.
Bowling Green’s defense has struggled this season, allowing the second-most points per game and fourth-most yards per game in the MAC.
The Falcons are not noticeably better on either side of the ball, as they rank in the top four in the MAC in both passing yards and rushing yards allowed per game.
However, Bowling Green has been good at getting pressure on the quarterback and forcing turnovers. It is tied for second in the MAC in interceptions with nine, and has more sacks than any other team in the conference with 37.
Notes on Ohio
There has not been an update on Rourke’s status for this game since Ohio head coach Tim Albin’s Thursday press conference. Rourke was seen walking with a brace, but he is not using crutches, and the possibility remains that he could play.
If he does not, CJ Harris will start for Ohio. Harris played the second half against Ball State and completed 5-for-8 passes for 34 yards. He also ran the ball eight times for 38 yards.
Ohio’s defense has been one of the best in the conference over the last few weeks and has not allowed more than 400 yards or 24 points in a game since Week 6 against Akron.