Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Roady's Humanitarian Bowl: Bowling Green (7-5) vs. Idaho (7-5)
By Graham Watson
This might be the most offensive game this bowl season, and that’s meant to be a compliment.
Both Bowling Green and Idaho both have dynamic offenses and play little defense, which will make this game a fun shootout. Idaho is playing in its first bowl game since 1998 and is angling to get the Western Athletic Conference its first bowl win this season. Bowling Green won four straight games at the end of the season to get into a bowl game and first-year coach Dave Clawson was the only new non-AQ coach to finish the regular season with a winning record.
WHO TO WATCH: Freddie Barnes, WR, Bowling Green
Barnes, a Biletnikoff finalist, leads the country in receptions (138) and touchdowns (16) and is third in receiving yards (1,551). He needs just five catches to break the NCAA mark of 142 in a season, which was set by Houston's Manny Hazard in 1989. What’s even more impressive about Barnes’ numbers is that he’s spent the bulk of the season fighting off double and triple teams. In the last seven games, he averaged 158.1 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.
WHAT TO WATCH: Will either team play defense?
For as good as both offenses are, Bowling Green and Idaho's defenses are two of the worst in the country. Bowling Green allows 393.75 yards per game and 26.17 points per game. Idaho allows 424.50 yards and 35.50 points per game. Idaho allowed 146 total points in its final three games of the season. While both of these teams have shown the ability to play in a shootout, the one that steps up and plays any semblance of defense likely will come out ahead.
WHY TO WATCH: Offense, offense, offense
There’s no greater selling point for this game than the offenses. Idaho didn’t score fewer than 21 points in any game this season. Quarterback Nathan Enderle has thrown for 2,666 yards, the most ever in his career, and was second in the WAC in passing offense and passing efficiency behind Boise State’s Kellen Moore. The Vandals rank 10th in the country in total offense. Bowling Green quarterback Tyler Sheehan and Barnes are the best quarterback-receiver duo in the country. The Falcons have scored at least 30 points in each of their past four games.
PREDICTION: This is one of the toughest games to predict because of the lack of defense. But Bowling Green has played better defense this year, and while Idaho has faced some better offenses, I’m giving the nod to Bowling Green’s experience. Bowling Green 45, Idaho 38.