Military Bowl 2012 preview: San Jose State, Bowling Green prep for Thursday's game
WASHINGTON (AP) - David Fales completed 33 of 43 passes for 395 yards and two touchdowns Thursday as No. 24 San Jose State completed a comeback season with a 29-20 win over Bowling Green in the Military Bowl.
Fales led the drive that set up Austin Lopez's 27-yard field goal with 4:43 remaining, and De'Leon Eskridge's 1-yard run with 2:34 left provided the insurance.
The Spartans finished 11-2 and are in the national rankings for the first time since 1975.
They capped the year with a seven-game winning streak for their first 11-win season since 1940, a remarkable turnaround for a program that was 1-12 just two years ago and led Colorado to hire away coach Mike MacIntyre earlier this month.
Bowling Green finished 8-5.
Military Bowl 2012 preview:
Bowling Green (8-4) vs. San Jose State (10-2), 3 p.m. EST
Line: San Jose State by 7
Series Record: First meeting
WHAT'S AT STAKE
A successful bowl comeback. Bowling Green hasn't played in a postseason game since 2009, San Jose State since 2006. To see how far these schools have come in a short time, look at 2010 - when Bowling Green went 2-10 and San Jose State was 1-12.
San Jose State's quick turnaround cost the school its coach: Mike MacIntyre left for Colorado, leaving defensive coordinator Kent Baer to lead the Spartans against the Falcons. Ron Caragher, hired from San Diego to replace MacIntyre, will attend the game as an observer.
San Jose State's high-scoring offense vs. Bowling Green's stingy defense. The Spartans averaged 35.3 points (26th among FBS schools), while the Falcons allowed only 15.8 (9th).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bowling Green: DT Chris Jones, Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year, has 12Â½ sacks and 19 tackles for loss.
San Jose State: QB David Fales leads the nation in completion percentage (72.1) and ranks fourth with a 170.9 passer rating. He has 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
FACTS & FIGURES
San Jose State, No. 24 in the AP poll, is the first Top 25 team to play in the Military Bowl, now in its fifth year. The Spartans have won six straight to move into the national rankings for the first time since 1975. They will be trying to win 11 games in a season for the first time since 1940.
San Jose State also has a conference defensive player of the year: DE Travis Johnson took the honors in the Western Athletic Conference.
Bowling Green has won seven of eight, losing only to No. 25 Kent State since a 37-0 loss to Virginia Tech in September. Falcons coach Dave Clawson also turned around programs at Fordham and Richmond.
The Military Bowl was supposed to pit Army against an ACC team, but Army isn't bowl-eligible and the ACC didn't have enough bowl-eligible schools to fulfill its bowl tie-ins.
This is the third straight year a team headed for the Military Bowl has announced a coaching change before the game. Matt Campbell took over for Toledo after Tim Beckman left for Illinois last year, and Ralph Friedgen was fired by Maryland in 2010 but allowed to coach in the bowl.