The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 120 to our projected No. 1 team. We will not be including the four teams the NCAA lists as still reclassifying to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Today at No. 91: Bowling Green
Coach: Dave Clawson (14-23, fourth season; 72-72 overall)
2011 record: 5-7 (3-5 in Mid-American Conference, fourth in East Division)
Look back: Experience was in shortcomings for the Falcons in 2011 as Bowling Green fielded a roster that featured 81 players that were sophomores or younger. That inexperience didn’t appear to be a factory early on when the team won three of its first four games before losing three in a row. The team’s next win was against Temple on Oct. 22 but that didn’t last long as the Falcons then lost three more in a row before finishing with a 42-28 win over Buffalo.
Offensive starters lost/returning: 3/8
Defensive starters lost/returning: 1/10
Key losses: WR Kamar Jorden, WR Eugene Cooper, OL Ben Bojicic
Top returnees: QB Matt Schilz, RB Anthon Samuel, LB Dwayne Woods, DT Chris Jones
Strengths: The offense returns eight starters from last season but none could be as big as quarterback Matt Schilz, who is starting his third season behind center. In 2011, Schilz had career-highs in yards completions (245), attempts (412), yardage (3,024) and touchdowns (28) and will be responsible for leading an offense that ranked sixth in the league in total offense. This team has a plethora of running backs led by Anthon Samuel, who rushed for 844 yards and five touchdowns last season in a limited role. He will share duties with Jordan Hopgood and Jamel Martin. The defensive line returns mostly intact from last season with Chris Jones who led the team in sacks (8.5) and was tied for second in tackles for loss (14.0), leading the way.
Weaknesses: While most of the offense returns from 2011, the receiver position was the one spot that suffered the most in the offseason. Kamar Jorden, who led the team in catches (78) and yards (1,089) as well as receiving touchdowns (12), is gone as well as second leading receiver Eugene Cooper (67/808/9). That leaves Shaun Joplin (21/292/1) as one of the few receivers with experience on the team.
Outlook: The up-and-down run of last season will pay off this season with the return of 18 starters on both offense and defense. Both squads finished in the middle of the pack in the Mid-American Conference in both categories and will need to show improvement if this team wishes to continue improving on the previous season. The schedule features a tough, season-opener against Florida at The Swamp as well as another road game against Virginia Tech coupled with two easier non-conference opponents in Idaho and Rhode Island. The Falcons will need to survive the early part of the season if it wants to make some noise in 2012.
Sept. 1 at Florida
Sept. 8 Idaho
Sept. 15 at Toledo
Sept. 22 at Virginia Tech
Sept. 29 Rhode Island
Oct. 6 at Akron