Play Of QBs Savage, Johnson Crucial In Little Caesars Bowl
By James Ferguson
Quarterback Tom Savage will lead his Panthers into Ford Field on Thursday as they take on Matt Johnson and the MAC champion Bowling Green Falcons.
Savage has played well this season, throwing 21 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Savage's senior campaign ties him with Stephen Morris for third in the ACC for passing touchdowns behind Jameis Winston and Tajh Boyd. But he'll take on a tough test as Bowling Green's defense has only given up an average of 14.8 points each game.
Savage was one of the better quarterbacks in the ACC, throwing for more than 2,800 yards despite being sacked more than any other player in the FBS. He'll have to try and pick apart a Bowling Green defense that picked off Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch twice in the MAC championship game. Savage will look to find freshman receiver Tyler Boyd, while Devin Street's health is still up in the air.
Savage's counterpart, Johnson, also has had a stellar season with 23 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. He threw five touchdowns against Northern Illinois, which got the Falcons a matchup with the Panthers. Johnson has thrown for almost 3,200 yards this season and has a completion rating of about 65 percent. He will go against the Pitt defense and Chuck Bednarik award winner Aaron Donald. The Falcons count on receivers Ronnie Moore and Shaun Joplin.
Bowling Green is fresh off the win against NIU at Ford Field, so it might give them the upper hand in this game, while Pitt finished the season on a loss against the Miami Hurricanes at home. Pitt will have to give Savage time in the pocket to find open receivers in order to get ahead of Bowling Green early.
Donald may pressure Johnson the entire game, as he wasn't quite sacked as often as Savage, but the Falcons line gave up its share this year. The play of these two quarterbacks will be the factor that determines the outcome of the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.