The MAC, Week 6

As the Mid-American Conference rolls into week six, players and coaches will shift their entire focus to division and cross-divisional matchups, looking to score up some vitally important wins to earn the right to compete in the MAC title game. While the unbeaten Toledo Rockets take a week off, all of the other MAC teams will be engaged in some fierce battles on the gridiron. Here is a look into this week's games:

Akron at Miami:
- What is probably the single most important game this week in the MAC will be contested in Oxford, Ohio at Yager Stadium. The battle of unbeatens in the East division will pit Akron (2-3, 2-0 MAC E) against Miami (3-2, 1-0 MAC E).
Miami won its first division game by downing Buffalo, 31-14, while the Zips took a beating in Kalamazoo at the hands of Western Michigan, 31-14. Offensively, Akron has played balanced, but favors the run behind RB Brandon Payne (48-493, 6TD), but sport the worst overall defense in the MAC (allowing over 450 yards of offense a game).
Miami has been powerful on offense, moving the ball 1,875 yards in five games, but have still allowed more points than they have scored. This game boils down to who can step up on defense and shut the other team's offense down.
Obviously, this favors the Redhawks even though Akron has four more takeaways than Miami. This game will either place Akron one game ahead of Marshall in the standings, or tie Miami with the Herd for tops in the division. Either way, the East could be decided when the winner of this game meets Marshall down the road.
The prediction: Miami 35 - Akron 21

Bowling Green at Western Michigan
- This cross-divisional game may be seen as very offensive to those who watch it, considering these two teams rank among the top of the MAC in total offense. What might be the most interesting aspect of this game is the fact that Western Michigan (3-2, 1-0 MAC W) leads the conference in passing (305 yards per game), while Bowling Green (4-1, 2-1 MAC E) ranks 11th in pass defense (223 yards per game).
The gametime forecast in Kalamazoo calls for rain and temperatures in the 40s, which could slow down both teams offensively. That makes it that much more important to establish a ground game and pass the ball when possible. This may likely be a sloppy game between two very good football teams among the MAC's elite.
If the forecast changes and sunny skies take over, the fans may be in for a classic matchup. But if I were to call an upset special, this would be it.
The Prediction: Western Michigan 24 - Bowling Green 21

Ball State at Eastern Michigan
- Although both teams have struggled thus far, winning only one game between the two teams, this is a good opportunity for both teams to get on the right track in the MAC West race. Eastern Michigan (1-4, 0-1 MAC W) has already lost one divisional game against Western Michigan, but this will be the first divisional game for Ball State. The Cardinals (0-4, 0-0 MAC W) have lost to east foe Miami, but that game does not directly count against divisional standings.
Ironically, if Ball State wins this game, they will be tied with 3-2 Western Michigan despite the fact the Cardinals are winless (0-4).
Neither team has been overly successful at scoring, but the Cardinals look like the most likely team to do so in this game due to Eastern Michigan's turnover ratio of -5 and inability to stop the run. That does not bode well for the Eagles against a team whose top two running backs average 5.4 and 4.1 yards per carry, respectively.
Ball State does not appear poised to improve on last year's 5-6 breakout season, but should get on track in the division race when the clock reaches 00:00.
The Prediction: Ball State 20 - Eastern Michigan 10

Other Games: Northern Illinois - 7.5 @ Kent St, Marshall - 11.5 @ Buffalo, Ohio + 9 1/2 @ Central Michigan
Idle: Toledo (5-0, 2-0 MAC W)

Stats & weather courtesy of midamconf.com and weather.com


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