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UMass faces Bowling Green in MAC opener

The University of Massachusetts football team’s second season begins Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

The Minutemen, who went 0-4 in nonconference play, open their Mid-American Conference schedule at Bowling Green.

“We know this is the start of our season,” sophomore cornerback Randall Jette said. “This is what our prize is, a MAC championship. This is where it really begins.”

The Falcons (4-1) boast one of the conference’s top offenses with 32.8 points and 487.8 yards per game.

“They’re arguably the best team right now in the Mid-American Conference,” UMass coach Charley Molnar said. “Not only are they balanced offensively, since their quarterback has taken over they’re about 100 yards per game more than they were prior to him taking over the helm.”

Sophomore quarterback Matt Johnson averages 245.8 yards passing per game, while running back Travis Greene averaged 110.2 yards pre game to give the Falcons the second most productive offense in the MAC.

“I know (Bowling Green) is gonna try and attack us with the run, no doubt,” UMass senior defensive lineman Galen Clemons said. “Their offensive line looks like it’s real powerful and (Greene) looks real athletic.”

Stopping the run hasn’t been a strength for UMass, which allows 283.75 yards rushing per game. A switch to a 4-3 defense a week ago yielded favorable results against Vanderbilt, which rushed for 166 yards, the lowest total allowed this season.

Bowling Green is coached by Dave Clawson, who played football and basketball at Williams College and previously coached at Richmond.

Time & Location: 3:30 p.m, Doyt Perry Stadium, Bowling Green, Ohio

Records: UMass (0-4, 0-0 MAC); Bowling Green (4-1, 2-0 MAC)

All-time series: Bowling Green leads 1-0

Previous Meeting: Falcons won 24-0 in 2012

Internet: ESPN3.com; weei.com/umass

Radio: 1400-AM (WHMP)

When UMass has the ball: The Minutemen used their bye week to get healthy and it should show Saturday. Running backs Stacey Bedell and Lorenzo Woodley should return to the backfield, while tight end Rob Blanchflower had another week to get re-acclimated to the offense after missing the first three games of the season. Health and two weeks to prepare for Bowling Green might be what UMass needs to improve on offensive.

The offense has scored just 14 points in quarterback A.J. Doyle’s two starts this year. Leading receiver Tajae Sharpe has 28 receptions for 241 yards and two touchdowns.

Bowling Green is led by linebacker D.J. Lynch, who has 30 tackles and one sack. The Falcons have registered nine sacks on the season, but have yet to intercept a pass.

When Bowling Green has the ball: The Falcons are paced by Greene and Johnson. Greene has 551 yards rushing through five games to go along with three touchdowns. Bowling Green’s leading receiver is senior Shaun Joplin, who has 23 receptions for 388 yards and a touchdown.

Ed Saint-Vil has 38 tackles to lead the UMass defense. Safety Devin Brown isn’t far behind with 35.

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