San Jose State will put one of the West Coast's most prolific offenses up against one of the nation's stiffest defenses when the Spartans play Bowling Green in the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
The Spartans (10-2) finished second in the Western Athletic Conference and received an at-large bowl bid after amassing 610 yards in a 52-43 victory over Louisiana Tech in the final game of the regular season. They have won six in a row since losing to Utah State and 10 of 11 since suffering a 20-17 loss at Stanford in the season opener.
Bowling Green (8-4) won six of its last seven games to finish second in the Mid-American Conference's East Division behind 8-0 Kent State. The Falcons suffered a 31-24 loss to MAC champion Kent State on Nov. 17 but concluded the regular season with a 21-7 victory over Buffalo.
"They're a very hot football team," San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre said. "It'll be a very, very tough test for us."
Kent State was only the second team to score 30 points against Bowling Green this season. The Falcons are ninth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 15.8 points per game. They are seventh in total defense and pass defense. They led the MAC in rushing defense, pass defense, pass-defense efficiency, scoring defense, total defense and sacks.
The Falcons present an interesting challenge for San Jose State. The Spartans have one of the most efficient, effective passing games in the nation and a sporadic running game that produced 243 yards in the victory over Louisiana Tech.
The Spartans have won 10 games for the seventh time in school history. They have a chance to win 11 games for the first time since 1940, 10 years before San Jose State declared itself a major college football program in 1950.
PREDICTING THE MILITARY BOWL
San Jose State has been one of the best road teams in the nation this season, winning five of six away from home with the only loss a 20-17 setback up the road at Stanford in their season opener. The long trip east is not a concern for this under-the-radar team.
San Jose State 28, Bowling Green 17
PLAYERS TO WATCH
DT Chris Jones has been a force all season on the way to being named Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year. Jones ranks third in the country with 12.5 sacks and is tied for seventh in the nation in tackles for loss with 19.
Rover Gabe Martin emerged as one of the top defensive players in the Mid-American Conference, earning first-team all-conference honors. Martin moved from linebacker to rover this season and was Bowling Green's leading tackler with 69 stops, including 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.
RB Anthon Samuel had to leave the regular-season finale against Buffalo on Nov. 23 with a thigh bruise and is listed as questionable for the bowl game. He rushed for 966 yards this season and leads the team with 11 touchdowns.
San Jose State
--QB David Fales, a community college transfer, has been brilliant in his first season at San Jose State, completing 72.1 percent of his passes for 3,798 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He leads the nation in completion percentage.
--WR Noel Grigsby, a 5-foot-11 junior, has 73 receptions for 1,173 yards this season, making him the second player in school history to catch 70 or more passes in two different seasons. He has caught a pass in 33 consecutive games.
--DE Travis Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 244-pound senior, is the Western Athletic Conference's career leader and the nation's active career leader with 31 sacks. For the second year in a row, he was listed on the Hendricks Award Mid-Season Watch List.