Bowling Green (10-3, 7-1 MAC) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6, 3-5 ACC)
Thursday, December 26, 2013 • 6:00 pm ET • Detroit, Mich. • Ford Field (65,000)
ESPN • Announcers: Dave Lamont (play-by-play), Ray Bentley (analyst), Niki Noto (sideline reporter)
• Interim head coach Adam Scheier takes over the helm for Bowling Green during the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, following the departure of Dave Clawson to Wake Forest.
• Scheier is in his fifth season with the Falcons, previously serving as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. Scheier will be joined by defensive coordinator Mike Elko and offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero for the bowl game.
• With a 47-27 win over Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game, Bowling Green won their first MAC title since the 1992 season.
• The win over Northern Illinois was the Falcons’ 10th of the season, the first time the program has won 10 games since winning 11 in 2003.
• The Falcons defeated three teams which accepted bowl bids in 2013 - Ohio, Buffalo, and Northern Illinois. In those three games, the Falcons outscored their opponents 120-34.
• A win at the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl would be the Falcons’ 11th win of the season, tying a program record for wins in a season. Bowling Green has won 11 games in just three other seasons - 1985, 1991, 2003.
• A win would be the program’s first win in a bowl game since defeating Memphis in the 2004 GMAC Bowl.
• A Falcon win would make Bowling Green 3-0 all-time at Ford Field. The Falcons have previously beaten Northwestern in the 2003 Motor City Bowl and Northern Illinois in the 2013 MAC Championship game.
The Rebuild Is Complete: Following a trip to the Humanitarian Bowl in 2009, former Bowling Green Head Coach Dave Clawson knew he had an arduous rebuilding job ahead of him. The Falcons slumped to 2-10 in 2010 but have rebounded by winning three more games than the previous season in each of the past two years. The Falcons are one of just four FBS teams to have made a three-win increase or better in each of the past two seasons and the only one of those teams that could increase their win total by three games again in 2013.
An Experienced Crew: At the beginning of the season, Bowling Green knew they had a veteran team. Returning nine starters on defense and eight more on offense, it was the second straight year the Falcons returned 17 starters. This season, 12 Falcons have started all 13 games this season, including the entire offensive line. There are also 16 Falcons on the current roster who have started at least 20 games in their career.
Greene Means Go: A converted wide receiver, Travis Greene set the school record for rushing yards in a single season with his 133-yard performance against NIU in the MAC Championship game. Greene now has 1,555 yards in 2013, surpassing Fred Durig’s previous record of 1,444 set in 1951. He set a school-record with his ninth 100-yard game of the season in a win over NIU. The previous record was eight games, set by Dave Preston (1974) and Fred Durig (1951). Greene is now second in school history with 1,700 all-purpose yards this season. He trails just Freddie Barnes, who set the record in 2009 with 1,965 yards.
Johnson Named MVP of MAC Championship Game: Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson threw for a career-high 393 yards, while picking apart the Huskies’ defense for a MAC Championship game record five passing touchdowns. Johnson’s 3,195 passing yards currently rank him sixth in school-history for a single season. His 23 touchdown passes also have him tied for seventh all-time in school history.
Best Defense In The MAC: Bowling Green ranks first in the MAC in total defense, scoring defense, passing defense, and rushing defense. The Falcons’ defense is fifth in the nation in scoring defense, eighth in total defense, and fourth in passing defense.
• Pitt will make its 30th all-time postseason appearance when it takes on the Mid-American Conference champion Bowling Green Falcons in the 2013 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field.
• The Panthers and Falcons have faced each other three prior times, the last coming in 2008. Pitt leads the series, 2-1, but dropped the last meeting, 27-17, at Heinz Field. Pitt is 29-3 all-time against the MAC. This will be the Panthers’ first bowl game against a MAC foe.
• Pitt will be looking to slow down a Bowling Green offensive attack that averages 35.4 points and 472.5 yards per contest. The Panthers will counter with a unit led by senior tackle Aaron Donald, the most decorated defensive player in the nation.
• Donald was honored with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award. He was also named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
• Donald had one of the most disruptive seasons for an interior lineman in college football history. He currently leads the nation in tackles for loss (2.2 per game), while ranking 10th in forced fumbles (0.33 per game) and 13th in sacks (0.83 per game).
• Senior quarterback Tom Savage triggers Pitt’s offensive attack. Entering the bowl with 2,834 passing yards, Savage is looking to become just the fifth Pitt QB to reach 3,000 yards in a season.