MOBILE, Ala. — Bowling Green and Georgia Southern are teams that know plenty about putting points on the scoreboard.
They just go about their business in vastly different ways.
Bowling Green is one of the nation’s best passing teams while Georgia Southern has run for the most yards in the Football Bowl Subdivision this season. Now the Falcons (10-3, 7-1 Mid-American Conference) and Eagles (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt) meet on Wednesday night in the GoDaddy Bowl.
“We’re definitely different,” Georgia Southern running back Matt Breida said. “They’re good at what they do and we’re good at what we do. Now we get to go head to head and it should be a great game to watch.”
The two prolific offenses have created some pretty amazing numbers this season.
Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson is second in the FBS with 4,700 yards passing and has thrown 43 touchdown passes to just eight interceptions. He needs 356 yards against Georgia Southern to jump Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty for the top spot.
Georgia Southern runs for more than 355 yards per game, which is easily tops in the nation. Breida, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior, is the best of the bunch in the backfield, with 1,586 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. He’s averaging more than eight yards per carry.
The Eagles run a version of the triple-option offense that’s rarely seen in today’s game.
Bowling Green interim coach Brian Ward said he’s tried to simulate Georgia Southern’s offense with the scout team during practice, but there’s nothing that can prepare his defense for the real thing.
“It’s a different speed and that’s what I’m concerned with — our ability to adapt to that speed,” Ward said.
Georgia Southern interim head coach Dell McGee has some of the same concerns, trying to simulate a passing offense that did just about anything it wanted to this season.
“Their pace of play — we just can’t really simulate that,” McGee said. “So it’s going to be a big adjustment for our defense during the first few series.”
Here are some other things to watch in Wednesday’s GoDaddy Bowl:
COACHING TRANSITIONS: Bowling Green and Georgia Southern are both in a state of transition after losing their respective head coaches to other programs over the past few weeks. Bowling Green’s Dino Babers took the Syracuse job while Georgia Southern’s Willie Fritz is now at Tulane. The Falcons hired Mike Jinks, who was an offensive assistant at Texas Tech, while Georgia Southern recently hired Tyson Summers, who was the defensive coordinator at Colorado State. Both teams will be led by interim coaches in Wednesday’s bowl game.
WET WEATHER: The forecast calls for warm and wet weather in Mobile on Wednesday night, which could put a damper on what many expect to be an offensive showdown. Bowling Green’s QB Matt Johnson said he doesn’t expect it to be an issue: “We’ve played a lot in rain this season. In five or six games, we’ve had at least some rain. It’s more of a mindset — you can’t let something you can’t control affect the way you play.”
BOWL REGULAR VS BOWL NEWCOMER: Bowling Green has long been one of the MAC’s better teams and is playing in its 13th bowl game in school history, including its fourth straight. Georgia Southern is in a bowl game for the first time in just its second season at the FBS level. The Eagles were a longtime powerhouse in the Football Championship Subdivision before moving up to the top level of college football in 2014.
JOHNSON GOES FOR 5,000: Bowling Green’s Johnson needs 300 yards passing on Wednesday to reach 5,000 for the season. He’d be just the 15th quarterback in FBS history to reach the mark. Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty recently hit the mark in its bowl win over South Florida on Monday.
TOP RECEIVER: Considering Bowling Green’s Johnson has a chance to throw for 5,000 yards this season, it’s not surprising his receivers are putting up some big numbers. The most prolific is Roger Lewis, who led all of the FBS with 1,476 yards receiving and also caught 15 touchdowns.