2016 MAC Preview

Posted on August 31, 2016. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

2016 MAC Preview

August 31, 2016

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You want diversity? You want a contrast in styles? You want a fascinating mix of superstar offensive talents mixed in with just enough solid defensive teams to keep things interesting? Well the MAC is all about that this year!

The conference always boasts the haves and have-nots, with a gaping disparity between the elite and not-so-elite, yet this time around, the conference should be a bit more even. The coaching is strong, there’s plenty of star power at quarterback, and the division races are as unpredictable as they’ve been in several years.

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Last year Bowling Green didn’t field a defense and still won a MAC championship by outbombing everyone. Head coach Dino Babers is now in Syracuse and quarterback Matt Johnson is gone, but the offense should still be dangerous enough to contend.

Contrast the Falcons with Akron, the breakthrough team of last year that dominated on defense. Kent State had absolutely no offense whatsoever, ruining a fantastic campaign for a phenomenal defense. Now the Zips have to rebuild and the Golden Flashes have to hope they have some way to move the ball to keep up with the other high-powered stars in the division.

The other day I heard the ‘MAC East is the kids’ table.’

They may have taken the championship last season, but the league’s four best teams are in the West – PERIOD. So I agree.

Western Michigan is about to be devastating. Quarterback Zach Terrell leads a potentially unstoppable offense that should be an automatic 30-point-per-game machine, while the defense gets seven starters back and should be good enough to get by.

AP Poll

Northern Illinois will have a healthy quarterback this season – something it didn’t field late last year when the team was ravaged by key injuries – and now the offense is back to its normal high level. It’ll have to be considering Toledo isn’t going anywhere despite the loss of head coach Matt Campbell to Iowa State. The rushing tandem of Kareem Hunt and Terry Swanson should be as productive as any in America.

Central Michigan has the high-rising quarterback in the NFL Draft world in Cooper Rush, and the defense that finished 16th in the nation welcomes back eight starters – this might be the most complete team in the MAC.

Ball State should be among the league’s most improved teams with Mike Neu taking over a veteran squad, while Eastern Michigan will try to keep the program afloat as the sixth-best team – by far – in a six-team division.

Besides the championship game, of course, we believe the MAC Football Game Of The Year will be Toledo at Northern Illinois (in Chicago at Guaranteed Rate Field aka U.S. Cellular Field) Nov. 9. As good as Toledo has been over the last several years, why hasn’t it been able to break through and become the star of the MAC? NIU has won six straight in the series.

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Here is our overall MAC Predictions….

EAST

WEST

1. Ohio

2. Bowling Green

3. Buffalo

4. Akron

5. Kent State

6. Miami University

1. Western Michigan

2. Northern Illinois

3. Toledo

4. Central Michigan

5. Ball State

6. Eastern Michigan

Western Michigan should be the star of the West, and it gets both Toledo and Northern Illinois at home making the showdown between the Rockets and Huskies in Chicago all but an elimination game.

As we have stated, the MAC West is the toughest to predict as the battle should come down to Western Michigan against Northern Illinois, and the battle will be decided October 8… winner of this contest should win the West. And since the Broncos nor the Huskies play Ohio, who should win the East… whew – should be an exciting game in Detroit December 2.

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BIG Ten Week 1 Recap

Posted on September 8, 2015. Filed under: Football | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

BIG Ten week 1… improvements!

September 6, 2015

The Big Ten football season kicked off this weekend, and there were a lot of improvements, but it’s difficult to ignore the conference’s struggles from the 2014 campaign. While a 7-5 record may not sound especially awful, you have to consider the quality of the opponents. Let’s take a look at how things transpired…

UTAH 24, MICHIGAN 17

Things got started Thursday in Salt Lake City as head coach Jim Harbaugh made his highly-anticipated Michigan coaching debut on FoxSports1. As expected this was going to be a tough test for the Wolverines but despite the final score, they were able to keep it reasonable. Now on the other side of the ball, UM’s D was pretty tough as they held running back Devontae Booker to just 69 yards on 22 carries.

ALABAMA 35, WISCONSIN 17

The Badgers were able to hang around early against the Crimson Tide, but the Bama was just too much especially on the ground. Derrick Henry ran for 147 yards and three scores while averaging over eleven yards per carry. Kenyan Drake added another 77 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own. Robert Foster led the way for the Bama receivers, hauling in four passes for 50 yards and a score.

Joel Stave was a bright spot for Wisconsin as he threw for 228 yards, two touchdowns, and a late-game interception. The biggest issue for the Badgers was their lack of a running game.

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NORTHWESTERN 16, STANFORD 6

Upset? Sure according to the analysis but the Wildcats are forreal. And their defense came to play on Saturday, holding the Cardinal offense to 240 yards and forcing two turnovers. The Northwestern offense was led by redshirt freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson and sophomore tailback Justin Jackson. While Thorson didn’t put up huge numbers – 105 yards passing and 68 rushing – he ran for a 42-yard touchdown in the second quarter and, most importantly, didn’t turn the ball over. Jackson added 134 yards on 28 carries.

TCU 23, MINNESOTA 17

The Gophers were looking to avenge last season’s loss to the Horned Frogs, but two costly first-half fumbles ruined that. Quarterback Mitch Leidner fumbled the ball on the Gophs’ second possession which would ultimately lead to a Trevone Boykin touchdown run. After a promising second-quarter drive, Minnesota running back Rodrick Williams Jr. fumbled at the TCU one-yard line; the Horned Frogs recovered in the endzone for a touchback.

BYU 33, NEBRASKA 28

The most heartbreaking loss of week one undoubtedly took place in Lincoln as Mike Riley’s Nebraska debut was spoiled by a BYU hail mary.

MICHIGAN STATE 37, WESTERN MICHIGAN 24

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IOWA 31, ILLINOIS STATE 14

The Hawkeyes kicked things off against a highly ranked FCS team and defending runner-up Illinois State Redbirds. Iowa’s defense shut down the Redbirds’ rushing attack, allowing a mere 35 yards on the ground. The Hawkeye offense was led by quarterback CJ Beathard and running back LeShun Daniels Jr. Beathard threw for 211 yards and one score while also adding two touchdowns on the ground. Daniels Jr., a Warren, OH native, rushed for 123 yards.

ILLINOIS 52, KENT STATE 3

After Friday night’s scheduled showdown was postponed due to lightning, the Illini faithful had to wait a day to dominated the Golden Flashes. The start of the Bill Cubit era featured a much-improved, opportunistic defense that forced four turnovers while holding the Kent State offense to just 59 yards rushing.

On the other side of the ball, Junior quarterback Wes Lunt tossed four touchdown passes and senior tailback Josh Ferguson rushed for 76 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. When the game got out of hand and some of the younger players began to see the field, true freshman running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn added 43 yards on the ground and a touchdown of his own.

INDIANA 48, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 47

After suspending nine players for the season opener, the Hoosiers were barely able to fend off the Salukis of Southern Illinois – surviving only after a failed two-point conversion attempt. The Indiana defense gave up a whopping 659 yards as the Hoosiers found themselves down 32-21 at the half.

Offensively, the Hoosiers looked to be in mid-season form. Senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw for 351 yards and a score. Running back Jordan Howard, a transfer from UAB, rushed for 145 yards and three scores in his Hoosier debut. While the suspensions definitely played a part in their performance, head coach Kevin Wilson has a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball.

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TEMPLE 27, PENN STATE 10

MARYLAND 50, RICHMOND 21

RUTGERS 63, NORFOLK STATE 13

Bottom line? The Big Ten needs to perform better, especially in its more prominent non-conference matchups. There is still a lot of football left – things worked out pretty well after last season’s rough start, wouldn’t you say?

 

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