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September 21, 2023

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Falcons putting disappointing games behind them for MAC Championship

The Bowling Green football team is coming off of a disappointing 41-24 season-ending loss to Ball State one week ago. 

Despite, that loss head coach Dino Babers believes that his team will rebound Friday night for the Mid-American Conference Championship game. 

“They better be a little disappointed, I’m a little disappointed and our family is a little disappointed,” Babers said. “Now once we’ve talked it out we need to rebound, come to play and show the character that we have.”

For the defending champion Falcons though, they are coming into this year’s game in a similar position as last year: underdogs. Their two-game losing streak has caused a sense of doubt in some fans and others, but the team likes being the underdogs linebacker DJ Lynch said. 

“The mentality of being an underdog is different, because you have everyone against you,” Lynch said. “We like that nobody believes in us. Everybody in our family believes in us.”

This so called “family” has stuck together through a roller coaster of inconsistencies this season. The most recent inconsistency is on the offensive side of the ball. That was most obvious in the Ball State game, where they scored three points in the final three quarters after scoring 21 in their first six plays. 

Wide receiver Ryan Burbrink said that the offensive is putting the past few weeks behind them. 

“We just forget about it. This is a new week, it’s championship week,” he said. “We are here for a reason, we did something right to get here. Those weeks happened, but we move on from it and get ready for NIU.” 

This will mark the second consecutive season the Falcons will be getting ready for Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship. This year is a bit different than last year though, last year they came in on a four-game winning streak, this year it is a two-game losing streak. 

Despite this being a different year and situation, they still have the same goal, offensive lineman Alex Huettel said. 

“This is for all the marbles,” Huettel said. “This one can erase all of the bad that’s led up to this point.”

One of the differences from a year ago is the change at head coach for the Falcons. While Babers was not in Detroit for this game one year ago, he does have experience playing NIU. At Eastern Illinois last year they lost 43-39 to the Huskies, but that won’t play into this year’s game he said. 

“You have to take the players you have and plug them in the right holes,” Babers said. “Hopefully from the offensive standpoint you find a way to come up with more points. From the defensive standpoint you can hopefully take the personnel and find a way to slow down their top personnel.”

While Babers knows it is the players who play the game, he said that how the coach performs can cost a team this type of game. 

“A coach can’t win a game like this, but he can lose it,” Babers said. “Hopefully when the game ends you made more decisions right than wrong.”

A decision that Babers made early on in the week was to squash the quarterback talk and announce that James Knapke will start. Knapke has struggled in the last two week, even being pulled late in the Toledo game for freshman Cody Callaway. 

“I think [Knapke] is good, obviously he thinks he could be playing better in certain situations than what he has,” Babers said. “I think he still has a lot of confidence and a lot to give this football team.”

Huettel and Burbrink echoed Babers thoughts saying they still have great confidence in their quarterback. 

No matter who is starting under center the Falcons know that with a MAC Championship win all of the past can be forgotten. 

“This is for everything, if we go out here and get this win you will forget about those games. They won’t even matter,” Lynch said. 

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