Let's start with the MAC East, shall we? Those that expected Bowling Green to at least remain competitive are held speechless as the Falcons fell to 0-3 in conference with five consecutive losses following a 42-35 loss at Toledo on Saturday. Under first-year head coach, Mike Jinks, the Falcons may have expected to have a big of a down season but nothing to the effect of a 1-6 overall record, leaving questions in Falcon country as they look ahead to their upcoming matchup at home against Miami (OH) this Saturday in an even matchup at Doyt-Perry Stadium.
Speaking of the RedHawks of Miami, they're coming off of their first win of 2016 with an 18-14 victory against Kent State. Now, at 1-6 overall under Chuck Martin, they look to gauge a second-consecutive victory at Bowling Green. With two losses in conference already, the RedHawks aren't quite ruled out of the division but times are stressful in Miami with the upcoming games against the Falcons and at Eastern Michigan being viewed as "must wins."
Aside from Miami and Bowling Green, Buffalo also finds themselves at the bottom of the MAC East at 0-2 in conference and 1-5 overall, being outscored by 93 points this season against their opponents. The Bulls look ahead to a tough matchup with Northern Illinois in DeKalb on Saturday in which they'll be viewed as underdogs on the road.
We talked about Kent State and their loss to Miami (OH) on the road, which leaves further questions about the Golden Flashes. Kent will be tested on Saturday at home against the Ohio Bobcats but they're struggling to put up points. Currently, the Flashes rank 122nd in passing yards per game (139 YPG) and 71st in rushing yards per game (171 YPG), leaving a lot of criticism about the offense moving forward in MAC play. At 2-5 overall and 1-2 in conference, they're far from out of contention in the MAC East, but winning needs to occur quickly in conference play.
Despite the recent negativity when talking about the MAC East, things are looking up for the Ohio Bobcats. At 2-1 in MAC play with wins at Miami (OH) and home against Bowling Green, the Bobcats got off to a great start. This past week, Eastern Michigan defeated Ohio on the road by a score of 27-20, leaving OU looking for a rebound this week at Kent State. Frank Solich and the Bobcats are average across the board both offensively and defensively, ranking No. 60 in the nation in passing yardage (235 YPG) and No. 50 in rushing yardage (189 YPG) while the defense comes in at No. 63 with 26.3 points allowed per game. Ohio certainly looks like a team that could take the MAC East and play for a Mid-American Conference title in December.
There's one team that looks to be ahead of the rest of the MAC East division and that team is the Akron Zips. Through seven weeks of the season, the Zips sport a 4-3 record but have a dynamic offense behind quarterback Thomas Woodson. Sure, Akron just lost 41-0 to Western Michigan but the Broncos are on an entirely new level right now as it pertains to the conference. Terry Bowden will look ahead to a road test at Ball State this upcoming week which should tell us a lot about the MAC East and how good the Zips are, or aren't for that matter.MAC WEST
Let's begin with a team that everyone expected to remain in the race for another MAC West title, the Northern Illinois Huskies. Yikes, not the start Rod Carey and the Huskies had hoped for in DeKalb. A 1-6 overall record with their first win coming a few weeks ago at Ball State is not the ideal 2016 campaign they had foreseen. Recent losses at Western Michigan and in DeKalb against Central Michigan have left even more questions regarding their chance to make it to Detroit this season. The Huskies do rank No. 28 in the nation in rushing per game (219 YPG) but defensively, the Huskies have been horrendous, ranking No. 116 in points against (37.3). The Huskies take on a struggling Buffalo team in DeKalb this Saturday to try to reverse their fortunes.
Currently at the bottom with Northern Illinois are the Ball State Cardinals. However, they might be better than what a 1-2 conference record would indicate. Ball State defeated Buffalo this past week for their first conference victory after falling to Northern Illinois and Central Michigan on the road. Now, they take on Akron at home this week in a chance to improve to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in conference to remain at least for now, in contention for a spot in Detroit.
Working our way up now to the Eastern Michigan Eagles and wow, what a change. Chris Creighton has put his stamp on the program in Ypsilanti as the head coach as they continue to build an up-and-coming culture. At 5-2 overall and 2-1 in conference with their lone loss coming to the Toledo Rockets two weeks ago, things are truly changing at EMU. In fact, the Eagles went on the road this past week and defeated Ohio in a pretty tough atmosphere in Athens. Quarterback Brogan Roback has played outstandingly this season as the Toledo native has the Eagles ranked No. 34 in the nation with 270 passing yards per game. The Eagles are no longer that team to mark down as an automatic victory.
Staying in the state of Michigan with the Central Michigan Chippewas and head coach, John Bonamego who has done an incredible job in Mount Pleasant. The Chips travel to Northwest Ohio to do battle with the Toledo Rockets this Saturday during a noon kickoff but are currently 5-2 overall, including a big and miraculous win over Oklahoma State in the beginning of the season. Now, at 2-1 in conference following a 49-10 rivalry loss at home to Western Michigan, CMU has improved with back-to-back wins at home against Ball State and on the road at Northern Illinois this past week. The Chippewas do struggle to run the football as they rank No. 95 in yards per game (146) but with a quarterback like Cooper Rush, what does it matter? Rush is throwing for 294 yards per game and is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. It'll be a big test at Toledo on Saturday.
The Rockets are off to another tremendous start in 2016 under Jason Candle, now in his first full season. Quarterback Logan Woodside is proving to be one of the top five best quarterbacks in the country as of right now, ranking first in passing touchdowns with 24, despite playing one less game than most. The Rockets are at 5-1 overall this season with their lone loss coming in a 55-53 shootout at BYU. Toledo is also 2-0 in conference with hard-fought victories over Eastern Michigan on the road and Bowling Green at home. Candle and the Rockets now look at Central Michigan as they come to the Glass Bowl on Saturday before going into a short week on the following week against Ohio.
Where do you begin with the Broncos of Western Michigan? A laughing stalk of the Mid-American Conference for the longest time has now become a mid-major powerhouse and a recruiting haven under P.J. Fleck. The Broncos came in at No. 20 in the Associated Press poll this week with a perfect 7-0 overall record and 3-0 in conference following a 41-0 shutout at Akron this past week. The Broncos now look towards Eastern Michigan this week and Ball State on the road in the following week to provide a couple of tests. However, all signs could point towards WMU being undefeated going into the Nov. 25 matchup with Toledo in Kalamazoo which could and should decide the MAC West.
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