|Davenport Sports Information photo|
Last week first-ranked Davenport hosted won the biggest game of the college season 49-15 over Miami. Saturday they do it all over again when they host fifth-ranked Bowling Green for what is now the biggest game of the college season. Like the Miami game, Saturday’s game will be webcast live at 1pm Eastern.
If Davenport wins Saturday, they all but clinch the Mideast title and a berth to the national playoffs. If Bowling Green wins, the Falcons take pole position in the playoff race while simultaneously allowing Miami back into the fray, as BGSU and the Reds haven't yet played this season.
Bowling Green is 2-0 all time against the Davenport, with both losses coming last fall. However, the Panthers are ameliorating at a rapid pace, and with very little defection from last year’s national championship squad, they’re destroying all competition this season.
Davenport has won its four league games by a combined score of 258-33.
“We’ve had some experiences with this on our end in that you take a really good team, but it’s a fairly young team, and obviously when you get them playing very well, and then they get an extra year, it seems like not only are they playing well individually, but they just seem to know where everybody is...It just becomes second nature,” said Bowling Green coach Tony Mazzarella.
“So as good as you are that one year, and you get a whole lot of people back, and you keep that core together, you really can do no wrong. Everyone’s in the right spot at the right time, and we’ve had that experience before and had a pretty good team like that before, and I think that’s probably what they’re going through right now. They really can’t do anything incorrect on the field right now.”
Bowling Green’s season thus far has been impressive, too. The Falcons haven’t lost a game this fall, and they’ve beaten CPD Ohio State and Air Force’s second side. However, some weaknesses have been exposed in the process.
“We’ve really been struggling the last couple of weeks. Against Ohio State a couple of weeks ago we were all over the place – really poor communication, really poor ball handling. You name it, it was a bad day,” said Mazzarella.
“Today we really kind of put it together, looked at some other options in terms of our patterns of play...and I think the guys kind of see the options that are there a little bit better.”
Davenport’s All American flyhalf, JP Eloff, left the Miami game with a shoulder injury last week. After sustaining the injury in the first half, he moved to fullback before eventually subbing out altogether. Mazzarella expects Eloff to be in Davenport’s arsenal somewhere Saturday.
“From what I hear, no matter what, I think he’ll be on the field. As to what capacity he plays in, we’ll find out on game day. We’ll prepare as if he’s playing No. 10. If he’s playing somewhere else on the field, we’ll adjust accordingly to that.
“They have a number of good backs no matter of where they’re playing. It’ll change the dynamic a little bit, but at the heart of it, I think their forwards are playing a great game, so we’re going to have to neutralize that before we get too far ahead of ourselves. If we let their forwards dominate the game, it’s going to be easy for whoever’s playing No. 10 to do whatever they want.”