What Bowling Green QB Matt Johnson Is Doing Is Pretty Remarkable


From the conference that birthed #MACtion comes the newest midweek hashtag, #MattyJHeisman.

For those unfamiliar, Matty J. is Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson, whose Falcons are in action tonight against Western Michigan. Tonight could offer a preview of the Mid-American Conference Championship Game, as both the Falcons and Broncos come in sporting matching 5-0 records in league play. A Bowling Green win sews up its third straight East division championship.

Beyond the MAC title implications at stake in Kalamazoo, MACtion provides Matt Johnson the national stage necessary to get his name out. And Matty J.’s performance in 2015 deserves as much attention as fans and media are willing to pay it.

Johnson ranks at or very near the top of every major, statistical passing category on the season. He’s second in the nation in yards per game at 409.6, behind only Washington State’s Luke Falk.

His 33 touchdown passes tie Falk for second-most nationally, trailing Western Kentucky Brandon Doughty, who has 34.

Of course, Falk’s 33 scores have come with seven interceptions. Doughty’s 34 touchdowns, six picks. Johnson’s been intercepted three times all year, giving him an 11:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio that outpaces 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota’s staggering pace last season. Mariota finished the campaign with 42 touchdown passes and four interceptions.

Go through Johnson’s production category-by-category, and he’s on pace to contend with the national leaders of recent years. In addition to surpassing Mariota’s touchdown-to-interception ratio thus far, Johnson’s quarterback rating is less than two points behind Mariota’s 2014 181.75; best in the FBS.

Completing 70.5 percent of his pass attempts, Matt Johnson is just 0.5 behind 2013 national leader Teddy Bridgewater — while at the same time, approaching Derek Carr’s 50 touchdowns and 5,083 yards of the same campaign.

In fact, should the Falcons add the MAC Championship Game to the bowl bid they’ve already sewn up, Johnson’s on course to break B.J. Symons’ single-season record of 5,833, set in 2003 at Texas Tech. Not coincidentally, Symons reached that milestone under Luke Falk’s current head coach, Mike Leach.

Given Johnson’s comparable production to some of the game’s recent best, including the last Heisman winner, it’s not unfair to suggest the #MattyJHeisman movement become more than just a hashtag.

Group of Five players are decided outsiders for the award, but just getting an invite to New York City is an achievement in and of itself. The MAC had the last such representative, Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch two years ago. How does Johnson compare?

Glad you asked:

Any suggestion of an outsider for Heisman consideration comes with resistance, with the relatively weaker competition at the heart of it. It’s certainly a fair argument when comparing a MAC quarterback like Matt Johnson to his Power Five counterparts.

However, against the SEC’s Tennessee Volunteers, Johnson passed for 424 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. No other opponent has reached even 300 yards against the Vols. And, just one week after seeing Bowling Green, Tennessee held Heisman contender Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma to 187 yards and intercepted him twice.

Johnson bombarded the Big Ten’s Maryland Terrapins for 491 yards and six touchdowns; three more than possible first-round draft pick Christian Hackenberg.

And, while not a Power Five opponent, Memphis is ranked by the College Football Playoff committee. In a three-point loss to the Tigers, Johnson went for 443 yards and four touchdowns without an interception.

Rather than wilting against marquee competition, Johnson’s delivered some of his best performances. That bodes well for Bowling Green’s final stretch, which includes Toledo and opens tonight at Western Michigan. In a season as chaotic as this, if Matty J. continues to produce on his current, historic pace, why not send him to New York City?