Head coach: Gregg Brandon
Last season: Here's a real anomaly: With an offense that averaged almost 30 more yards than the defense allowed, how did Bowling Green win only four games? Also, the Falcons tied for 15th in the nation in fewest turnovers lost. They even converted a respectable percentage of touchdowns in the red zone.
Special teams was a huge problem, as the Falcons allowed five touchdowns off punts and kicks and did not score one themselves. They were eighth-to-last in the nation at kick coverage and sixth-to-last at punt coverage. BG also missed five of nine field goal attempts.
Chris Bullock was good yet inconsistent as a freshman running back. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry, but had very poor performances against Miami and Toledo to end the season. Overall, the defense wasn't bad. It tallied a fair number of sacks and tackles for loss. Unfortunately for BG, often the special teams got the team in a hole, and they lacked the passing firepower to get back in the game.
Best returning player: Junior linebacker Erique Dozier
Offense: Despite a solid running game, Bowling Green needs better quarterback play to win games in the MAC. Junior Anthony Turner has been more of a scrambler than a passer. That works against bad defenses (Akron allowed Turner to rush for 105 yards), but the better teams are too fast and smart. Perhaps the real skill of the offense comes from the line, which allowed the third-fewest sacks in the conference last season. The receivers are just so-so.
Defense: Dozier is one of the MAC's best linebackers. The backs and defensive ends are pretty good, too. The question will be whether they can find a couple defensive tackles to improve a subpar rush defense.
How the Zips match up: These teams are quite similar in talent. Both could be pretty good or just average. Both teams will have difficulty tackling running backs. The tiebreaker is that BG will be coming off tough MAC games against Miami, Kent State and Ohio. Before that is a matchup with Boston College. Akron will be relaxed after laying whoopings on the cellar dwellars and enjoying a bye week. Dennis Kennedy ran for 178 yards in Akron's win last season. I can see a repeat.
Way-too-early prediction: Akron 31, Bowling Green 27