Washington, D.C. (Sports Network) - The Bowling Green Falcons will try to slow
down the San Jose State Spartans when the two teams meet for the first time in
the 2012 Military Bowl at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
The Spartans will be making their first appearance since coach Mike MacIntyre
bolted to fill the vacant head coaching position at Colorado. Kent Baer, the
team's defensive coordinator since 2010, will serve as interim head coach for
the bowl game before Ron Caragher steps in to replace MacIntyre next season.
"Coach MacIntyre put a plan in place and that plan is being executed. We're
going forward with it and do our very best to win this bowl game and make it
11 wins this season," said Baer.
Baer is going to be leading one of the hottest teams in the nation as San Jose
State enters on a six-game win streak. It closed out the regular season with a
52-43 victory over Louisiana Tech to finish 10-2 overall and 5-1 in Western
Athletic Conference action.
Dave Clawson's Falcons had a very impressive season following their 5-7 finish
last year. Thanks to a stingy defense, BGSU went 8-4 overall and 6-2 in Mid-
American Conference play. It has also won seven of its last eight games, with
the only loss coming against 25th-ranked Kent State. The Falcons had not
finished a regular season with eight wins since 2007.
While this is indeed the first meeting between these two teams, both have a
win over Idaho this year, with BGSU logging its first win of the season in a
27-13 home triumph over the Vandals, and SJSU becoming bowl-eligible with a
42-13 victory in Moscow.
San Jose State has had very little trouble moving the ball this season, thanks
to its stellar aerial attack which ranks 11th in the FBS with 327.5 passing
yards per game. The Spartans are averaging 451.7 yards of total offense and
35.3 points per game.
"What makes them so difficult to defend is number one they have great
personnel. Every one of their offensive skill players is an all-conference
player. Secondly, their offensive scheme is very well thought out. If you
load the box and try to take away the run they have a lot of quick easy access
throws and the second you spread out with them they've got a very physical
offensive line that will cover you up and a running back that rushed for 1,000
yards. This is a complete football team." said Clawson.
SJSU's offense is guided by junior QB David Fales, who finished the regular
season with 3,798 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions on 294-of-408
passing in his first season as the team's full-time starter. Fales closed out
the last four games of the Spartans' schedule with 14 touchdowns to 4
interceptions, and he only had one game all year with multiple picks.
Noel Grisby and Ryan Otten are the top two options in the passing game for the
Spartans. Grisby reeled in 73 receptions for 1,173 yards and 9 scores to
finish third in the WAC in receiving, while Otten was the league's sixth-most
productive wideout with 706 yards and 4 TDs on 44 grabs. Chandler Jones was
the team's top red-zone threat with 10 touchdown grabs.
De'Leon Eskridge is the feature back in SJSU's offense. He showed how
dangerous he can be in the regular-season finale against Louisiana Tech by
racking up 217 yards and 3 touchdowns on 28 attempts.
The Spartans are also very good on the defensive side of the ball as they
limit their opponents to 351.4 yards and 21.4 points per game.
"They get good penetration with their front four," said BGSU QB Matt Schilz.
"You know they have experience. Their front four makes it easier for their
secondary to cover."
Travis Johnson did an outstanding job in the trenches with a WAC-best 12
sacks, while Travis Raciti (7.5) and Anthony Larceval (6.5) finished second
and third, respectively, in the league in sacks. Johnson was named the WAC
Defensive Player of the Year for his efforts.
Keith Smith registered a team-best 87 tackles, while Vince Buhagiar (82) and
Cullen Newsome (81) both tallied more than 80 stops as well. Bene Benwikere is
a big-time playmaker in the secondary with 7 interceptions and a defensive
BGSU was not an overly impressive team on the offensive side of the ball, but
Schilz and sophomore tailback Anthon Samuel helped the team average 373.9
yards and 23.2 points per contest.
Schilz is in his third year as the team's starter under center, and the junior
has amassed 7,673 yards and 50 touchdowns in his BGSU career, and is currently
on a streak of 31 consecutive starts. Chris Gallon (657 yards, 6 TDs, 47
receptions) and Shaun Joplin (629 yards, 4 TDs, 39 receptions) are the two
most frequent targets in the passing game for the team.
Samuel, who was the MAC Freshman of the Year in 2011, is just 34 yards shy of
becoming the eighth player in school history to surpass the 1,000-yard mark on
the ground in a single season. The speedy sophomore will be looking to bounce
back after finishing with negative-four rushing yards in the season finale
BGSU booked its ticket to this bowl game through a dominating defensive
effort. The Falcons rank seventh in the nation in total defense, allowing only
289.7 yards per game. They showed balance by finishing seventh in the FBS in
pass defense (173), ninth in scoring defense (15.8), and 14th in rush defense
Defensive tackle Chris Jones is the anchor up front, having logged 12.5 sacks
and 19 tackles for loss.
Although the Falcons have one of the top defenses in the country, they did not
have a tackler finish in the top-35 in the MAC, which hints at how balanced
and deep they are on that side of the ball.
The Sports Network