Playing Pitt gives Bowling Green another shot at big goal
The Sports Xchange
NCAAF Team Report - Bowling Green - INSIDE SLANT
Pittsburgh presents an opportunity to put a check mark of success beside another of the Falcons' preseason goals.
The Falcons have a 10-3 overall record after beating previously undefeated and nationally ranked Northern Illinois, 47-27, in the Mid-American Conference championship game.
"One of our goals every year is to beat a BCS team," fifth-year senior tight end Alex Bayer of Bowling Green said. "This year we had our two chances, and we didn't come through.
"In my five years here I still haven't beaten a BCS-level team, so I'm excited to get another chance at it. Especially in my last year, to be able to go out and play another game, we're excited."
For Pittsburgh (6-6) becoming bowl eligible in the first year of play in the Atlantic Coast Conference is a positive. Pitt is filling an at-large spot in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, which has the eighth selection of Big Ten teams, but that league only had seven bowl-eligible teams,
Pitt was not selected for one of the ACC's seven contractual bowl tie-ins.
The Panthers tied with Maryland for the worst conference record among the 11 bowl-eligible ACC teams, and the Terrapins received the final ACC bid to the Military Bowl.
The Panthers were unpredictable during the season posting victories over Duke and Notre Dame, but losing to Navy.
Pittsburgh faces a tough task against Bowling Green.
The Falcons have a top 10 defense, which allowed only 44 points in Bowling Green's last five games, all victories.
Bowling Green's offense has also been rolling of late, scoring 223 points in the last five games. The Falcons have a strong running attack, and the passing game is improving every week.
"We're excited for the chance to play in another game against such a quality opponent," Pitt coach Paul Chryst said in a statement released by Pitt officials.
"Bowling Green was impressive not only in its MAC championship win but all season long, and we have a competitive game of football ahead."
Bowling Green will have to contain Pitt's wide-receiving tandem of Tyler Boyd and Devin Street, who both earned all-conference honors.
The Falcons will also have to contend with Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the ACC's defensive player of the year.
Another story line is Bowling Green redshirt sophomore quarterback Matt Johnson, a Pennsylvania native who has special motivation in playing Pittsburgh. He was not recruited by the Panthers, because he was deemed to be too short.
Johnson tweeted on Sunday afternoon before the announcement that he was hoping Pitt would be Bowling Green's opponent.