The FBS debut of new Bowling Green head coach Dino Babers comes against Western Kentucky’s rookie head coach Jeff Brohm. Bettors may not know exactly what to expect from both of these teams as major scheme changes and some key losses have left some holes on both sides of the ball.
Bowling Green vs. Western Kentucky College Football Preview
Date/Time: Friday August 29, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
College Football Betting Odds from WagerWeb
College Football Betting Favorite: Bowling Green -7
Bowling Green racked up 10 wins for their first MAC Division title since 1992 and that was enough to get Dave Clawson hired at Wake Forest. The Falcons were 10-4 and posted the same record against the number as their defense was spectacular and they scored 35 points per game. Western Kentucky had a fine 8-5 season under Bobby Petrino, but the Hilltoppers were snubbed from a bowl game. Petrino went back to Louisville and the Hilltoppers hired Brohm, a former quarterback at Louisville.
Bowling Green Falcons:
The Bowling Green Falcons are in great shape to repeat as the MAC East Division champions this season and Dino Babers has some pieces to work with. Junior quarterback Matt Johnson threw for nearly 3,500 yards last season with a strong 25/7 TD/INT ratio. Junior running back Travis Greene was a first-team MAC performer with just under 1,600 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. Babers coached Eastern Illinois to back-to-back playoff berths and was a repeat winner of the Conference Coach of the Year award in the Ohio Valley Conference. Babers was an integral part of the development of Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round pick in the draft. The defense is a slight concern for the Falcons, as they lose six starters and almost their entire secondary. BGSU held opponents to 15.9 points per game last season. With a different, faster offense and some losses on defense, they could regress. Continuity with the coaching staff won’t be an issue as Babers brought both coordinators with him.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers:
The Hilltoppers will have their third coach in as many seasons. Willie Taggart was at WKU for three seasons before moving to USF and Bobby Petrino spent one year at WKU to fix a career that had skidded out of control. Jeff Brohm is the new head coach and he has just one year of offensive coordinator experience and several years as a quarterbacks coach. Offensive coordinator Tyson Helton is in that role for the first time. Aside from the inexperienced coaching staff, Brohm has to find a way to replace school record holder Antonio Andrews, who was a two-time first-team Sun Belt Conference player. Brandon Doughty completed nearly 66 percent of his passes, but had only 14 TDs against 14 picks. A step up to Conference USA and only four returning starters on defense are big hurdles for a first-year head coach. WKU lost its five leading tacklers, including a couple of NFL draft picks. The Hilltoppers are relying on a lot of junior college transfers and that can be very hit or miss.
Free Pick: Bowling Green Falcons -7
There’s a lot of talent on the BGSU roster and the Falcons are in much better hands from a coaching standpoint for this first game than the Hilltoppers are. WKU didn’t face too many good passing offenses and their second level will be exposed because of the loss of three starting linebackers, including a NFL draft pick. The Hilltoppers lost the offensive and defensive players of the year in the Sun Belt from last season and schools like this can’t just reload most positions. **Note- Kyle Hunter’s 5 Star TOP Play of the Week is on the total in this game. Be sure to check it out here as well.**