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Week 5 preview: Falcons look to rebound from ugly loss to Ohio against ACC’s Georgia Tech

Drake Harlett

With four weeks in the rearview mirror, we’re officially one third of the way through the 2023 college football season.

After losing two straight games by a combined 56 points, Bowling Green is looking to get back in the win column, starting with a tough, three-week road stretch starting in Atlanta against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.  

Georgia Tech comes into this matchup with an even 2-2 record, with wins against South Carolina State in week two, followed up by a win last week on the road against Wake Forest. 

“They’ve really improved – it’s taken them time. They’ve obviously done a good job in the transfer portal. They play a very up-tempo offense and a very unique style on defense,” head coach Scot Loeffler said at his Monday press conference.   

The Yellow Jackets have gone loss-win-loss-win, which, if the pattern holds, means they’re due for another loss.  

GT’s offense revolves around redshirt sophomore quarterback and Texas A&M transfer Haynes King. 

King, a former four-star prospect, is enjoying a bounce back season after a tumultuous 2022 with the Aggies – completing 84 of 129 pass attempts for 1,132 yards and, the biggest improvements from last season, an 11:2 touchdown to interception ratio, with a passer rating of 163.9.

His 11 touchdowns lead the Atlantic Coast Conference, higher than likely first round selections Drake Maye of North Carolina (5) and Jordan Travis of Florida State(10).  

Tech’s air attack ranks 24th in the nation at 288 passing yards per game, and they average 2.8 passing touchdowns per game, 18th in the country.  

King’s 1,132 passing yards are second in the conference to only Maye (1,187).  

On the ground, another sophomore leads the way. On 57 carries, Jamal Haynes has accumulated 331 yards and two touchdowns. His backup, Louisville transfer Trey Cooley, has 208 yards on 39 carries for three scores.  

Their ground game ranks 36th nationally in yards/game at 192.0 yards per contest. They average 5.1 yards per carry (28th in FBS), and 1.5 rushing touchdowns per game, which ranks them at 75th. 

This offense offers to be a tall task for Bowling Green’s defense, who has struggled against both the run and the pass as of late. So far this season, BG has allowed 184 passing yards/game (30th), 2.3 passing touchdowns/game (118th), a 65.9 completion percentage, 154.3 rushing yards/game (97th), and 4.3 yards/carry (94th).  

Defensively, Georgia Tech is very solid against the pass. They rank 21st in completion percentage (54.5%), and 36th in passing yards allowed per game (188.8).  

“I’ve faced this defense a couple of times when I was at Virginia Tech, a couple of times at Boston College, one time when I was here. It’s unique, they play unique things in the back end. Lots of pressure,” Loeffler said.  

How Georgia Tech matches up against the run, however, is a very different story. 

They’re near the very bottom in rushing yards per game, allowing just under 237 yards/game (131st). They allow almost six yards per attempt (129th in FBS), and just over two rushing touchdowns a game (113th). 

“They’re a really good team, their defense is solid. They’ve played some good opponents this year and done well against them,” quarterback Connor Bazelak said Monday. “I think a lot of the stuff this week is just going to be focusing on us. I think if we can do what I know we’re capable of doing, what I’ve seen us do throughout fall camp, against Eastern Illinois, some flashes against Liberty, our offense can put up points against any defense in the country.”  

Bowling Green and Bazelak are coming off of a poor passing performance against Ohio, where the senior completed 17 of his 32 pass attempts for 104 yards and two interceptions.

Bouncing back against a very stingy Yellow Jackets secondary is going to be difficult, but still possible.  

“I don’t look at the interceptions,” Bazelak said. “ I’m going to keep slinging it as well as I can and give the team the best chance to win. Saturday is still kind of in us on a Monday, and I’ve tried to tell the guys, ‘We can’t let that bleed into tomorrow’s practice.”  

Another thing the Yellow Jackets do well?  Block kicks.

GT is tied for second in the country this year with two blocks.  

“They’re blocking field goals,” Loeffler continued. “Number 88 (defensive lineman Zeek Biggers) is a machine blocking field goals.”  

 With the betting odds stacked against BG, it will be interesting to see how the Falcons respond after their worst performance of the season so far. 

Kickoff from Atlanta is at 3:30 p.m. 

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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