Around the MAC

Inter-divisonal matchups will be the major theme this week in the Mid-American Conference. Most conference teams will be participating in cross-divisional games, which have no direct bearing on the final MAC standings that decides which teams will compete in the MAC Championship game, but they are used in breaking divisional ties which gives these games a special importance.

Should two teams finish undefeated in the same division at the end of the year, the team who won more games across the conference table will make the trip to the title game. In the MAC oligarchy, however, it rarely gets that far.

Regardless, this week's slate of games is very interesting and will likely offer some great football action for all fans who watch. Let's take a quick look into some of the more interesting matchups this week in Mid-American Conference football.....

Akron at Western Michigan
- Western Michigan (2-2, 1-0 MAC W) had a bittersweet victory last week in a 31-10 victory hosting Eastern Michigan. The Broncos lost 6 players to injury including starting QB Jeff Welsh, although Welsh is currently listed as the starter for the upcoming game versus the 2-2 Akron Zips (2-0 MAC E).
The Zips have had some success this year and quickly jumped in the front of the line in the MAC East division standings with an opening week victory over the Ohio Bobcats. Akron also had a good showing out of conference in a respectable 28-14 loss at Ohio State.
The heavy losses suffered by Western Michigan could make this game very interesting, and the current line in my latest MAC Power Ratings makes Akron the 1-point favorite in this game.
Look for a well-fought contest that may come down to the very last. Western has more passing yards than any MAC team thus far (1,173), where Akron has allowed nearly 900 yards passing in 4 games. The Zips are very balanced on offense, but the real key to this game could be penalties. Akron averages a meager 28.25 yards per game in penalties, while the Broncos have 67.5 yards worth of infractions per game.
The prediction: Western 21 - Akron 24

#23 Toledo at Ohio
- Peden Stadium should be buzzing this Saturday as the nationally-ranked Toledo Rockets (4-0, 2-0 MAC W) visit Athens to take on the struggling Ohio Bobcats (0-3, 0-1 MAC E). The Bobcats have had extra time to prepare for Toledo due to an open week caused by the rescheduling of Ohio's Akron game to the season opener and sending the North Carolina State game toward the bottom end of the schedule.
Even with the extra preparation time, Ohio will have their work cut out for them taking on the new-look Rockets. The Rockets lead the MAC in total offense and have shown much more overall offensive balance in passing for over 800 yards and rolling up in excess of 1,000 yards rushing.
The Bobcats are reknown for their intense triple-option attack, which can be used to their advantage by keeping UT running back Chester Taylor off the field. But the problem for the Bobcats is that in four games, Toledo has allowed only 211 yards of rushing: that's a stingy 52 yards per game.
The Rockets are my 14.5-point favorite going into this game, and with the Bobcats' run defense ranking in the bottom half of the conference, Chester Taylor may continue his string of big performances that has garnered him quite a bit of national attention, along with some Heisman talk.
The prediction: Ohio 10 - Toledo 35

Kent State at Bowling Green
- The Bowling Green Falcons (3-1, 1-1 MAC E) are looking to bounce back after their 31-37 road loss to Marshall. The Kent State Golden Flashes (1-3 0-1 MAC E) are coming off a heart-breaking 10-14 loss versus Akron.
Now that Bowling Green has seen how long the unbeaten streak would go, they will likely begin to settle into a more stable groove and play their best football yet, and the Flashes have won only one away game in the last three years, two in the last four. Kent State has nearly 1,800 yards of total defense in their four games this year, and a bit less than half of Bowling Green's defensive yards allowed came against Marshall.
Both teams are looking for a win, but the team who is able to put their frustrations from last week behind them has an early advantage going in. This is a division game, so each team will definitely need this win to gain and/or hold ground in the East race.
The prediction: Kent 10 - B. Green 42

Eastern Michigan at Connecticut
- Eastern Michigan has had troubles this year, not the least of which is in the backfield, where the Eagles have tried three different quarterbacks in the first four games with little success. The Eagles averaged 140 yards of passing and just over 100 yards of rushing per game. Although this week's game against the 1-3 UConn Huskies is not a division matchup, it provides Eastern with a good opportunity to get a win and some confidence in their players, and possibly provide coach Jeff Woodrum with the answers he needs on which QB will start for the Eagles this year.
If Eastern can come out in this game fired up and someone steps up and takes the reigns of the offense, Eastern Michigan has a good shot at beating UConn. For the die-hard MAC fans who always root for their fellow conference members in out-of-conference play, this is the game for you....
The prediction: UConn 24, Eastern Michigan 28

Other MAC Games:
- Marshall (-2.5) at Northern Illinois -
Prediction: MU 38 - NIU 24
- Buffalo (+8) at Miami of Ohio
Prediction: Miami 38 - Buffalo 7

OPEN: Central Michigan and Ball State are off this weekend.

Go Herd!

* Stats and names courtesy of midamconf.com and espn.com


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