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NCAA Week 4 underdog pick: Bowling Green good value +13.5 vs. Ohio in MAC rivalry game

The SBIA Model has released some of its Week 4 college football top plays, and one of its top underdog leans Saturday is from the Mid-American Conference and Bowling Green getting 13.5 points at home against rival Ohio University in the conference opener for both. That’s a one-unit play per the model, and the home team has covered three straight in the series.

Ohio (3-1) lost in the 2022 MAC title game and easily could get back there. The Bobcats lost their season opener at San Diego State but closed the non-league slate with three straight victories. Star QB Kurtis Rourke, the 2022 MAC Offensive Player of the Year, didn’t start the first two games as he recovered from injury but has started the past two and led minor upsets of Florida Atlantic and last week of Big 12 school Iowa State. It was the Bobcats’ first win over a power conference school since 2017.

While that #OUohyeah offense should start to improve with Rourke back, the defense has carried the load in the early going. It ranks No. 6 nationally in allowing just 245 yards per game and first in the MAC in allowing 11.8 points per. The Bobcats are the only defense that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season and are leading the MAC in interceptions (6).

Bowling Green was trounced last year at Ohio.

The lone win for Bowling Green (1-2) is over FCS school Eastern Illinois, but the Falcons played fairly well in a 34-24 loss at Liberty in Week 1 and a 31-6 defeat at No. 2 Michigan this past Saturday. Starting QB Connor Bazelak, a former Indiana and Missouri quarterback, missed the U-M game with a lower-body injury and backup Camden Orth was hurt after completing 8 of 11 passes for 91 yards. Third-stringer Hayden Timosciek, a former Purdue walk-on, was 6 of 10 for 33 yards and two interceptions. It's not clear which will start Saturday on Homecoming for #ToTheMoon.

“I couldn’t tell you right now at a lot of positions where we’re at waiting to see who can heal, and who can’t,” said head coach Scot Loeffler said earlier this week. “But the one thing I can assure you is the people that are in there, we’re going to have a really good game plan for, and I can promise you that they’re going to play their tails off.”

Saturday is the earliest meeting between the Falcons and the Bobcats since Sept. 6, 1986 when BGSU opened the season with a win (21-6) over Ohio at Doyt Perry Stadium. BGSU leads the all-time series 41-31-2 but lost 38-14 on the road in 2022.

This decade, Bowling Green is 9-1 against Ohio when holding the Bobcats under 300 total yards. The 2023 Falcons defense is No. 7 in the nation in third-down defense as opponents have converted only 25.9%. Michigan only had one third-down conversion and was held to 312 yards of total offense, the lowest output by the Wolverines since managing 275 against Rutgers on Sept. 25, 2021.

Bowling Green is 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games at home vs. Ohio. The Falcons are 3-1 ATS in their past four as a double-digit home dog vs. any foe.

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