Bowling Green head coach Scot Loeffler is familiar with the Big House. He once donned the maize and blue and was the signal caller for the Michigan Wolverines in the ‘90s. Now, he returns to Ann Arbor with an upset in mind for his Bowling Green Falcons.
Loeffler brings a former Big Ten quarterback with him who hasn’t found an easy path to success in college football. He’s got a big weapon at tight end who has quickly become his target. On the defensive side, a sophomore linebacker has broken out in the first two weeks of the season and looks to be an anchor of this defense.
Let’s meet some of the faces of the Bowling Green Falcons who will need to perform at a high level on Saturday.
QB Connor Bazelak
Grad transfer Connor Bazelak started his career at Missouri, but left following his junior season for the chance to play at Indiana. He’s not afraid to let the pigskin fly, with almost 1,200 attempts across his three and a half seasons as a starter. This has meant some really strong performances and some massive duds with the amount of risks he takes.
In his career, Bazelak has a 39-to-30 touchdown-interception ratio and has completed just 62.1 percent of his passes. In the last two seasons, that has fallen to sub-60 percent, and by the end of this season, he’ll also likely be beyond 9,000 career passing yards.
At Indiana, Bazelak attempted 42.6 passing attempts per game. He also threw at least one interception in each of the eight starts where he surpassed 40 attempts. Against the Wolverines, Rod Moore was the one to pick him off in what was a tightly contested first half.
Loeffler is trying to rein him in a little bit at Bowling Green by balancing a rushing attack with Bazelak’s powerful arm. In the Falcons’ first game against Liberty, Bazelak completed just six of his 21 attempts and was intercepted three times. He followed that up by going 23-of-28 with three touchdowns against Eastern Illinois.
It’s very likely Bowling Green trails in this game. Will we see Loeffler abandon the run game and try to air it out with the turnover-prone quarterback? Or is he going to stay true to his offense no matter how successful it is? That decision could be key to how out of hand things get.
TE Harold Fannin Jr.
Bazelak has already found his favorite pass catcher in sophomore tight end Harold Fannin Jr. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Fannin is a huge target down the field.
Have yourself a career day Harold— BGSU Football (@BG_Football) September 9, 2023
Bazelak ➡️ Fannin Jr. on a 19-yard score.
Fannin Jr. By The Numbers
7 rec, 109 rec yards, BGSU leads 31-12.
Last week he had seven receptions for 109 receiving yards and the touchdown above. He also caught two of Bazelak’s six completions in Week 1. Clearly, the game plan is to have Fannin highly involved in this offense.
Fannin saw significant playing time as a true freshman and is emerging as a strong candidate for Bazelak’s go-to guy in 2023. “He’s a very good football player with a ton of talent,” said Loeffler after his dominant performance in Week 2. “We are going to challenge him week in and week out to be a pro.”
As the Michigan secondary continues to get healthy, this is exactly the kind of guy who could cause problems on third down and keep drives alive for the Falcons on Saturday.
LB Joseph Sipp Jr.
Last season, Joseph Sipp Jr. appeared in just six games for Bowling Green. Early indications in 2023 show he could be the highest-producing player on the defense. Plan to hear his name a lot on Saturday, as he has racked up 10 tackles in each of the Falcons’ first two contests. He currently ranks third in the MAC and is in the top-30 nationally.
Despite his efforts, Bowling Green has still allowed 160.5 yards per game on the ground. The Michigan offensive line is starting to gel, and Sherrone Moore is going to make sure they are playing at the top of their game heading into a contest where he is the acting head coach.
Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards, and the rest of the Michigan backs could have a lot of room to run, but expect Sipp to be on the other end as one of the best players on a poor Bowling Green defense.