Bowling Green wins MAC East over Buffalo, to face NIU for title
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP)
Bowling Green will meet No. 18 Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game after securing the MAC East division title Friday with a 24-7 win over Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Bowling Green (9-3, 7-1 MAC) managed just seven first downs on its first seven possessions, but scored touchdowns on consecutive drives in the third quarter to take control of the game.
Shaun Joplin caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to put Bowling Green in front 10-7 early in the third quarter, and Green's 14-yard touchdown run capped a 93-yard drive and extended the Falcons' lead to 17-7 with 2:05 left in the quarter.
Johnson scored on a seven-yard run after completing a 62-yard pass to Joplin (six receptions, 149 yards) to set the final score with 8:18 left in the game.
Branden Oliver's 2-yard touchdown run put Buffalo (8-4, 6-2 MAC) in front 7-3 midway through the second quarter. The Bowling Green defense had not allowed a touchdown in its previous 12 quarters.
Bowling Green took an early lead on Tyler Tate's 40-yard field goal with five minutes left in the first quarter.
NOTES: Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack tied Jason Babin's FBS career of 75 tackles for loss with 2 1/2 against the Falcons. . Bowling Green last won a division title in 2003 when it was a member of the MAC West. . The Falcons have outscored opponents 128-14 in third quarters this season. . This was the first college football game played at Ralph Wilson Stadium since Oct. 27, 1979, when Syracuse hosted Miami while the Carrier Dome was being built.