Bowling Green (9-3) vs. Georgia Southern (8-4)
Dec. 23, 2015
Both teams in the GoDaddy Bowl were so good that their coaches moved on to bigger jobs before the season was over.
Bowling Green's Dino Babers took the Syracuse job after his team won the MAC Championship Game over Northern Illinois. In Babers' two years at the school, Bowling Green was 18-9. Brian Ward, the team's defensive coordinator, is the Falcons' interim coach.
Georgia Southern's Willie Fritz moved to Tulane after an 8-4 season. Fritz led the Eagles to a 9-3 record in 2014 but since last season served as GSU's first at the FBS level, the Eagles weren't eligible for postseason play. Georgia Southern will be coached by Dell McGee in the bowl game.
We'll admit that interim coaches aren't exactly a compelling reason to turn into a bowl game. So we won't sell you on that point. Instead, we're going to tell you about offense. Lots of offense. And contrasting offenses too.
Bowling Green likes to play "#FalconFast." Babers, a former Baylor assistant, had his team throw the ball 43 times per game in 2015. The pass-heavy attack led to the fourth-best scoring offense in FBS as quarterback Matt Johnson has thrown for 4,700 yards and 43 touchdowns against only eight interceptions. Running back Travis Greene has also rushed for 1,219 yards.
Georgia Southern's offense is also prolific. But it does its damage on the ground. Fritz's teams run a triple-option based offense primarily out of the pistol. The Eagles were the best rushing team of 2015 with 355 yards a game and averaged nearly 35 points per game. Running back Matt Breida leads the team with 1,541 yards rushing while three other players have over 600 yards.
If you're wondering how the teams' defenses fared against each offensive strength, Bowling Green gave up 162 yards on the ground (four yards per carry), while Georgia Southern gave up 204 yards passing per game. It's not a stretch to think this game could come down to whoever has the ball last. And be a ton of fun to watch.
Graham: This game will be better than most people expect, but it’s hard not to like Bowling Green in this one. I think BGSU quarterback Matt Johnson ends his career on a high note in a close, high-scoring contest. BGSU 45-38.
Nick: The triple-option is much harder to defend with limited preparation time. I'm giving the edge to Bowling Green, but this could be one of the best games of bowl season. Bowling Green 47, Georgia Southern 39.
Sam: The Falcons are simply too explosive on offense for Georgia Southern to handle. It’ll be close, but BGSU is the better team. Bowling Green 41, Georgia Southern 31.
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