Bowling Green hoping past experiences pay off

Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson

Bowling Green heard the talk before its game against Missouri -- the Tigers were going to be 4-0 coming out of nonconference play.

It was Week 2 when Bowling Green strolled into Columbia, Mo., and was less than six minutes away from pulling off the upset. Bowling Green lost 27-20, but the game proved to the Falcons that they could keep pace with any team in the country despite outside prognostications.

Heading into Saturday’s game against No. 8 Boise State, the Falcons are once again hearing that they have no chance to win.

“I think those are things maybe you throw out early in the week, but at the end of the day, I don’t think that has any effect on the game on Saturday,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said. “We’ve got our hands full with defending who Boise is and what they do. I think that Boise, if you look at them over the course of the years, has done a great job with their football team of keeping them focused from week-to-week.

“We know we’re going to play a well-coached, well-prepared football team on Saturday and we’ve got to make sure we block them and tackle them and take care of the football. Those are the things that win and lose football games. I’m sure they’ll be heavy favorites, but we’re at home and we’ve got to play well.”

Boise State is the highest ranked opponent to play at Doyt-Perry Stadium. Bowling Green only has defeated a Top 25 team four times in school history; the last time was a 27-17 win over No. 25 Pittsburgh last season. Since 2003, the Falcons are 3-4 against teams in the Associated Press Poll Top 25.

Clawson contends the way to pull off this upset is to stick with the Broncos into the fourth quarter. In all of Bowling Green’s games this season, the Falcons have either taken leads into the fourth quarter or been with striking distance. Although the Falcons are 1-2, they’ve been in a position to win every game.

“We’ve gotten every game in the fourth quarter against three good football teams with a chance to win the game,” Clawson said. “In the Troy game, we got the critical stops and made the critical plays to win the game. In the Missouri game and the Marshall game we didn’t do that. So, we’ve been there. We’ve just got to do a better job of executing late in the game. And I think the key with Boise is we’ve got to put ourselves in the same position. We’ve got to get to the fourth quarter with an opportunity to win the game and then when we get to that point, we have to learn from Missouri and learn from Marshall and make the plays that get us over the top. That’s going to be our challenge.”

Each game has been a learning experience for Bowling Green. And while the season has come with mixed results, the players haven’t wavered from the effort that has put them in a position to win. The players are buying into Clawson’s coaching and they’re confident the experiences of the past three games are going to pay off, perhaps this weekend.

“Everybody really comes into the game believing that we can win any game,” Bowling Green receiver Freddie Barnes said. “These first four games we had on our schedule, people had us coming out 0-4. So, the way we played these first three games has given us a lot of confidence to know that our destiny is in our hands. If we stick to the plan that the coaches give us, we can come out victorious."