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1. Bowling Green wasn't very good
Sometimes winning's enough. It's not Bowling Green's fault that the MAC East was full of teams in various stages of rebuilding. It's not the Falcons' fault that they had basically clinched the division title when they fell into a November funk. It's not their fault that eight teams (including Indiana and all but one East rival) couldn't beat them.
Still, BGSU wasn't very good, even by MAC standards. After winning the MAC and finishing a robust 39th in F/+ in 2013, the Falcons plummeted to 98th in Dino Babers' first year as head coach. The Falcons didn't have the pieces to operate Babers' tempo-and-more-tempo system, and a salty defense became a porous one.
Yes, the Falcons won a second straight East title, went 8-6, and attended a third straight bowl, but the win totals belied a significant drop in quality. Against five top-70 opponents, BGSU went 0-5 with an average loss of 46-20 and lost by a combined 127-48 against the two top-50 teams on the docket.
But considering the hand they were dealt, winning some games was enough.
2. That might not matter
After a late-season funk that featured blowout losses to Ball State at home and NIU in the MAC title game, Bowling Green rallied to win an exciting Camellia Bowl in South Alabama's backyard and avoid what might be the oddest record in college football: 7-7. (6-8 might be even stranger.) This may not have been a season of high quality, and the Falcons may not have beaten a team ranked higher than 88th, but I'm guessing they won't be apologizing too much.
Not only did BGSU lose its head coach, Dave Clawson, to Wake Forest; the Falcons also lost star quarterback Matt Johnson in Week 1. And defensive tackle Zach Colvin. And likely starting receiver Chris Gallon never saw the field. Combine that with the 10 other 2013 starters BGSU lost, and a dropoff became nearly unavoidable.
Sophomore quarterback James Knapke, thrust into action earlier than he expected, struggled with inconsistency: 88.2 passer rating against Wisconsin, 134.1 against UMass, 89.9 against WMU, 138.2 against Kent State, 54.0 against Toledo, 160.3 against South Alabama. An offense reliant on efficiency and passing couldn't count on either. And the defense's attempt at aggressiveness alternated between effective (4.9 yards per play allowed against WMU, 4.4 against Akron) and tragicomic (9.7 against Wisconsin, 7.4 against WKU, 7.1 against Ball State).
The offense returns nearly everybody, plus Johnson and Gallon. So Babers' offensive vision should come closer to fruition. The defense? Well ... shootouts are fun, right?
2014 Schedule & Results
|Record: 8-6 | Adj. Record: 3-11 | Final F/+ Rk: 98|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|29-Aug||at Western Kentucky||50||31-59||L||15%||-24.3||3%|
|5-Dec||vs. Northern Illinois||69||17-51||L||14%||-25.5||1%|
|20-Dec||vs. South Alabama||89||33-28||W||39%||-6.4||51%|
|Points Per Game||30.7||55||33.5||108|
3. Either a midseason peak or nice scheduling (or both)
Looking at the structure of BGSU's 2014 schedule from top to bottom -- two top-50 opponents in the first four, then a run of six games in seven against teams ranked 105th or worse, then four top-100 teams to end the season -- you could probably figure out the Falcons' October was going to be better than September or late-November. And that's what played out.
The Falcons went 6-0 against teams ranked in the triple digits, 0-5 against the top 70, and 2-1 against those in between.
That said, adjusting for opponent, it appears BGSU played its best ball when its worst opponents were on the slate. Be it because of a mid-season peak or a system amenable to dominating bad teams (and getting dominated by good ones), BGSU timed its good games in a way that assured the best possible record.
- Average percentile performance (first 4 games): 24% (record: 2-2)
- Average percentile performance (next 5 games): 53% (record: 4-1)
- Average percentile performance (next 4 games): 16% (record: 1-3)
I don't do much with Covariance -- the concept of comparing your level of performance to the quality of your opponent -- because I don't trust the sample sizes enough, but BGSU was a best-against-worst team. We should find out this fall whether that was a random occurrence or a feature of the system (as in, BGSU needs an athletic advantage to do the damage it wants to do).
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||38.8%||96||Succ. Rt. +||90.8||106|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||31.5||98||Def. FP+||96.0||108|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||4.4||75||Redzone S&P+||84.8||114|
|Q1 Rk||73||1st Down Rk||93|
|Q2 Rk||78||2nd Down Rk||83|
|Q3 Rk||122||3rd Down Rk||103|
4. When your identity doesn't match your strength
The Babers system, culled from Art Briles and other high-octane influences, wants to move quickly and wants to throw.
Babers has made stops at seemingly every school in the country, but his last stop before taking his first head coaching job at Eastern Illinois was in Waco, where he helped to master Baylor's mach-speed attack. He brought it to Charleston, Ill., and immediately turned around a flagging program. His 2012 EIU improved from 2-9 to 7-5 and reached the first round of the FCS playoffs; in 2013, the Panthers erupted for 11 wins and a quarterfinal appearance.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns and somehow threw only nine interceptions with 20 sacks in almost 600 pass attempts. EIU attempted nearly 45 passes and 42 rushes per game; on September 21, the Panthers gained 577 yards and scored 39 points on Northern Illinois. The only team that did more damage than that to NIU's defense? Bowling Green in the MAC title game.
From a stat perspective, perhaps the most important single category for an offense with a "throw a lot and move quickly" motto is pass efficiency -- or, in the tables above, Passing Success Rate. Against Western Kentucky in an exciting season-opener, it appeared Matt Johnson was going to produce efficiency in droves; he completed almost 70 percent of his passes with a 151.6 passer rating. After a dreadful start against WKU (three three-and-outs and a turnover on downs), BGSU went MFG-TD-FG-TD-TD-punt-TD the rest of the way. Johnson clicked, Roger Lewis and SMU transfer Gehrig Dieter combined for 15 catches and 155 yards, and it appeared the offense was going to operate as intended.
But when Johnson was lost with his hip injury, the efficiency vanished. Passing Success Rate+ was almost the lowest on the board above. (The only ones lower: Redzone S&P+ and, for some reason, third-quarter S&P+.)
BGSU had a trio of big-play backs in Travis Greene, Fred Coppet, and Andre Givens, but only Greene was able to avoid losses and inconsistent rushes.
Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|James Knapke||6'2, 220||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8157||280||483||3173||15||12||58.0%||20||4.0%||6.1|
|Matt Johnson||6'0, 221||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7000||25||36||313||1||0||69.4%||3||7.7%||7.6|
|Cody Callaway||6'1, 189||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8226||12||26||153||1||1||46.2%||5||16.1%||4.1|
|James Morgan||6'4, 215||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8741|
5. Hey, Matt
Johnson is a bit of a gunner. He probably deserved to throw more interceptions than he did in 2013, and he "still has a little bit of maturing to do." (That apparently goes for both quarterbacking and pranks.) His return does not guarantee a sudden level of efficiency.
Still, it's hard not to be excited about the prospects of Johnson running the show for a full year. The signal caller from Harrisburg, Penn., managed a 161.7 passer rating in 2013 and played nearly perfect in two postseason games; he went 41-for-59 for 665 yards, five touchdowns, and no picks against NIU and Pitt. (He also played with fire and took plenty of sacks.)
Assuming Johnson indeed wins the job -- he'll still have to fend off Knapke and sophomore Cody Callaway, not to mention big-time freshman James Morgan, a blue-chipper by MAC standards -- he'll inherit a nearly complete skill position roster. He'll have an offensive line that returns five starters who have combined for 125 career starts, including all-conference guard and three-year starter Alex Huettel. If he matures, he could put up Garoppolo-esque numbers.
|Travis Greene||RB||5'10, 183||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||180||949||12||5.3||5.7||38.9%||0||0|
|Fred Coppet||RB||5'9, 189||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8465||141||764||6||5.4||7.1||32.6%||1||1|
|Andre Givens||RB||5'9, 189||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8600||102||479||8||4.7||6.4||29.4%||2||0|
|James Knapke||QB||6'2, 220||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8157||47||262||2||5.6||3.9||55.3%||5||4|
|Ronnie Moore||WR||5'9, 168||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7819||21||129||2||6.1||6.1||47.6%||3||1|
|Cody Callaway||QB||6'1, 189||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8226||7||0||0||0.0||0.0%||2||1|
|Matt Domer||RB||5'11, 190||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8478|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Roger Lewis||WR||6'0, 196||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7667||139||73||1093||52.5%||26.4%||59.7%||7.9||173||7.9||88.2|
|Ryan Burbrink||WR||5'8, 183||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||NR||101||64||758||63.4%||19.2%||58.4%||7.5||-18||7.5||61.1|
|Ronnie Moore||WR||5'9, 168||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7819||90||56||690||62.2%||17.1%||54.4%||7.7||9||7.6||55.7|
|Gehrig Dieter||WR||6'3, 204||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8475||58||35||460||60.3%||11.0%||46.6%||7.9||32||7.6||37.1|
|Chris Gallon (2013)||WR||6'4, 229||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.7900||43||24||232||55.8%||11.2%||51.4%||5.4||-81||5.7||32.2|
|Travis Greene||RB||5'10, 183||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||41||27||175||65.9%||7.8%||46.3%||4.3||-150||4.3||14.1|
|Herve Coby||WR||6'0, 179||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.7800||10||7||56||70.0%||1.9%||50.0%||5.6||-27||5.5||4.5|
|Fred Coppet||RB||5'9, 189||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8465||10||7||26||70.0%||1.9%||50.0%||2.6||-57||2.3||2.1|
|Teo Redding||WR||6'1, 165||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8378||8||5||59||62.5%||1.5%||50.0%||7.4||-2||8.3||4.8|
|Andre Givens||RB||5'9, 189||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8600||4||3||9||75.0%||0.8%||50.0%||2.3||-26||2.1||0.7|
|Derek Lee||TE||6'4, 255||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7659|
|Scott Miller||WR||5'10, 163||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7956|
|Deric Phouthavong||WR||6'3, 205||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7756|
6. A nearly complete set of skill position players
The only offensive "starter" who isn't scheduled to return in 2015 is tight end Chris Pohlman ... and BGSU doesn't use a tight end much. In fact, if not for the loss of receiver Heath Jackson and guard Darion Delaney, the entire SECOND-string would return intact as well. BGSU was young and got even younger because of injuries.
Because of tempo alone, a lot of BGSU players put up impressive stats. Travis Greene rushed for nearly 1,000 yards, and Jackson, Ryan Burbrink, and Ronnie Moore (the three leading returning receivers from 2013) combined for 147 catches and 1,623 yards. (Burbrink and Moore are also strong return men on a good special teams unit.)
Those players were proven entities. The breakout performance of 2014 came from a freshman. Roger Lewis' 53 percent catch rate will need to improve -- it helped to cause some wild ups and downs: in successive games midseason, he had nine catches for 148 yards, then one for 13, then six for 100, then two for 11 -- but the three-star wideout from Pickerington, Ohio, made a huge impact, especially in the bowl. Against South Alabama, he started with a 44-yard touchdown and finished it with a 78-yard game-winner.
If Lewis develops like a normal second-year guy, and if Chris Gallon returns to form as a contributor, this offense could produce obscene numbers. Hell, it'll need to play at a high tempo just to give everybody the touches they deserve.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Alex Huettel||RG||6'4, 309||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7800||41||2014 2nd All-MAC|
|Jacob Bennett||LT||6'5, 332||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7693||28|
|Logan Dietz||RT||6'6, 298||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8232||28|
|Ben Steward||LG||6'6, 300||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7824||14|
|Tim McAuliffe||C||6'0, 274||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7776||14|
|Christian Piazza||LT||6'6, 286||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7600||0|
|Spencer Cairo||RG||6'2, 314||Sr.||NR||NR||0|
|J.J. Beggan||C||6'3, 305||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7851||0|
|Ryan Hunter||RT||6'4, 324||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7633||0|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||44.2%||96||Succ. Rt. +||90.5||106|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||29.1||89||Off. FP+||96.0||110|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||4.3||59||Redzone S&P+||89.8||107|
|Q1 Rk||88||1st Down Rk||111|
|Q2 Rk||120||2nd Down Rk||108|
|Q3 Rk||93||3rd Down Rk||106|
7. Only one gear
At first, it seemed like a perfect fit. When he came to BGSU from Eastern Illinois, Babers brought aggressive defensive coordinator Kim McCloud. McCloud fancied a defense not dissimilar to that of Baylor's Phil Bennett: aggressive, fast, and capable of making big plays that, when combined with an exhausting offense, can devastate an opponent. This type of defense is willing to allow big gains because it knows the offense is going to click. And it knows that if it can flip the field with a couple of big turnovers, the game's over.
On paper, that works. But when the offense is battling inefficiency, then defensive discipline might trump risk. BGSU had plenty of the latter and very little of the former.
The defense was able to create negative plays against the run, and it forced its share of turnovers (nearly 2.5 per game). But despite an experienced secondary, opponents knew they could pass. Whatever aggression BGSU had, it tended to die out as a half unfolded -- BGSU ranked 120th in both second- and fourth-quarter S&P+. If you could keep the Falcons out of the backfield (and good offenses typically could), you could move the ball at will.
So Babers made changes. He kept McCloud but changed his title to Assistant Head Coach and brought in former Western Illinois coordinator Brian Ward to lead the defense. Ward's Leathernecks defense played with a bit more of a controlled aggression -- fewer sacks, lower yards per play -- and we'll see what changes he brings to the table.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Gus Schwieterman||DT||6'2, 261||So.||NR||NR||14||37.0||4.1%||7.5||2.5||0||1||1||0|
|Taylor Royster||NG||5'10, 255||Sr.||NR||NR||14||28.0||3.1%||5.5||1.0||1||2||0||0|
|Zach Colvin (2013)||DE||6'3, 287||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7500||14||17.5||2.4%||5.5||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Bryan Baird||DE||6'4, 238||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||13||13.0||1.4%||4.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Izaah Lunsford||NG||6'3, 300||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7000||13||9.0||1.0%||2.0||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Shannon Smith||DL||6'0, 281||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8600||12||7.5||0.8%||3.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Terrance Bush||DT||6'2, 238||Jr.||NR||NR||6||7.0||0.8%||1.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Mike Minns (2013)||DT||5'10, 313||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8289||11||6.5||0.9%||1.0||0.5||0||0||0||0|
|Malik Brown||DL||6'4, 251||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8387||6||3.5||0.4%||0.0||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Shemar Moss||DE||6'1, 240||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8150|
|Tyler Horstman||DE||6'4, 230||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7759|
|Jack Kramer||DT||6'3, 295||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7948|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|James Sanford||SLB||6'1, 194||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8417||14||55.5||6.2%||4.0||2.5||0||4||2||0|
|Nate Locke||MLB||6'0, 227||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7383||14||20.5||2.3%||1.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Austin Valdez||SLB||6'0, 226||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7963||13||14.5||1.6%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Aaron Banks||LB||6'2, 218||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7893||4||5.0||0.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Zac Bartman||LB||5'11, 211||Jr.||NR||NR||11||4.0||0.4%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jalen Dingle||LB||6'1, 213||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7859|
|Brandon Harris||LB||6'3, 205||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8055|
|Matt Finkler||LB||6'2, 234||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7793|
8. Any ends or linebackers?
When the Falcons knew they could attack the line, they did damage. They ranked eighth in Stuff Rate and 31st in Power Success Rate, which is a strange combination considering their overall poor rush defense numbers. If you got past the line, you found plenty of space to run.
In theory, the return of quick tackles Gus Schwieterman and Taylor Royster should ensure more boom-or-bust tendencies. They combined for 13 tackles for loss but averaged 6', 258 pounds. They're either going to disrupt a play or get pushed over.
There is some size available further down the depth chart: Shannon Smith is a 281-pound former three-star Composite signee, and 5'10, 313-pound road-grader Mike Minns is scheduled to return after missing 2014. Plus, returnee Zach Colvin could play inside or outside on the line.
But tackle is the least of BGSU's concerns. Not only do the Falcons have to replace last year's top three ends (Charlie Walker, Bryan Thomas, and Kendall Montgomery, who combined for 23.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks), they also face life without one of the nation's best run-stuffing linebackers. Gabe Martin was incredible, posting 15.5 non-sack tackles for loss, logging 2.5 sacks, and defensing six passes. He was a weapon near the line, a one-man Havoc Rate, and he will be missed. So will fellow linebackers Paul Senn and D.J. Lynch.
Babers has acknowledged that he could put quite a few 2015 signees on the field. He signed a pair of studs in the offensive backfield who might not need to play, but opportunity exists at end and linebacker if someone like Shemar Moss or Brandon Harris hits town ready.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Nick Johnson||CB||6'2, 178||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7759||14||62.5||7.0%||0||0||5||8||0||0|
|Dernard Turner||FS||6'0, 189||Sr.||NR||0.7000||14||36.0||4.0%||2.5||0||0||0||1||0|
|Darrell Hunter II||CB||5'9, 178||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7300||11||27.0||3.0%||0||0||0||7||0||0|
|Will Watson||CB||5'11, 179||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8100||12||16.5||1.8%||1||0||0||1||0||0|
|Isaiah Gourdine||SS||6'2, 198||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8282||13||15.0||1.7%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Clint Stephens||CB||5'10, 180||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8132||11||12.5||1.4%||0||0||4||9||0||1|
|Nilijah Ballew||DB||6'0, 204||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8649||10||7.0||0.8%||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|Matt Robinson||DB||5'8, 175||So.||NR||NR||11||6.5||0.7%||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Alfonso Mack||DB||5'11, 178||Jr.||NR||NR||5||2.0||0.2%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jack Walz III||DB||5'10, 190||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7956|
|Trevahn Beery||DB||6'0, 166||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7759|
|Antonyo Sotolongo||DB||6'0, 200||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8181|
|Bobo Jones||DB||6'1, 181||Fr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8013|
|Jamari Bozeman||DB||6'2, 190||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7859|
9. A high ceiling in the green secondary
The stats for the Bowling Green secondary are confusing. Four Falcon cornerbacks defensed at least seven passes each, and safety Brian Sutton contributed 7.5 tackles for loss and forced three fumbles. This was a unit as aggressive as Babers and McCloud wanted, and the aggression often paid off.
It often didn't. BGSU ranked 101st in Passing S&P+, and opponents felt the risk of passing was worth the reward. With a rebuilt pass rush, the last thing BGSU needs is inexperience, but that's what it will have to deal with. Sutton and Ryland Ward are gone, as is starting corner Jude Adjei-Barimah. While seniors like safety Dernard Turner and corners Darrell Hunter and Will Watson are in the mix, the success of BGSU's defense might come down to underclassman breakthroughs.
That might not be as scary as it sounds. Sophomore corner Nick Johnson defensed more passes than Adjei-Barimah, and sophomore Clint Stephens accomplished something I'm not sure I've ever seen: more passes defensed (13) than tackles (12.5). That suggests he's either a future lockdown corner or the worst tackler in college football. Or both. He's also a potential lightning bolt in the return game.
Along with these two, former four-star signee Nilijah Ballew was groomed for a larger role this fall, and BGSU could welcome as many as five three- or high-two-star freshmen and redshirt freshmen into the rotation. The ceiling is high, and odds are good that BGSU will have a ferocious secondary in about 2017.
|Joe Davidson||6'7, 220||So.||82||42.5||3||24||24||58.5%|
|Anthony Farinella||6'2, 190||Jr.||87||58.0||15||3||17.2%|
|Tyler Tate||6'0, 185||Sr.||45-48||18-22||81.8%||5-7||71.4%|
|Ronnie Moore||KR||5'9, 168||Jr.||20||21.2||0|
|Clint Stephens||KR||5'10, 180||So.||19||24.3||1|
|Ryan Burbrink||PR||5'8, 183||Sr.||13||9.8||1|
|Teo Redding||PR||6'1, 165||So.||2||3.5||0|
|Special Teams F/+||57|
|Field Goal Efficiency||29|
|Punt Return Efficiency||74|
|Kick Return Efficiency||37|
|Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency||13|
2015 Schedule & Projection Factors
|24-Oct||at Kent State||107|
|11-Nov||at Western Michigan||56|
|24-Nov||at Ball State||91|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-12.4% (81)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||100 / 96|
|2014 TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin*||10 / 7.2|
|2014 TO Luck/Game||+1.0|
|Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.)||14 (10, 4)|
|2014 Second-order wins (difference)||5.3 (2.7)|
10. Better hope for another good October
After an injury-related false start, you have to like where the BGSU offense is headed. There is a nearly perfect mix of experience and young athleticism, and Matt Johnson returns to lead what should be a frenetic attack. Recent signees were rated highly, and there's reason to believe the offense will remain prolific for years.
There's also reason to believe the defense will hold BGSU back. There were plenty of breakdowns in 2014, and this year's defense, working under its third coordinator in three years, is far less seasoned. This could mean fun things for viewers -- the Falcons could single-handedly bring MACtion back after a couple of less-MACtionable seasons -- but it could mean BGSU will struggle to defend its division crown if someone like Akron or Ohio takes steps forward.