MAC Breakdown: Toledo, Kent State, NIU top dogs

By Matt Hopkinson

Kent State: Perhaps the biggest headline in the MAC East has been the play of the Golden Flashes. Riding a seven-game winning streak, they have gone unbeaten within the conference this season. Kent State features two running backs who each have more than 880 yards and have scored 21 touchdowns between the two of them. The Golden Flashes are the favorites to come out as the representative for the MAC Championship, but their fate will be decided by their last regular season game against Ohio.

Ohio: Led by redshirt junior Tyler Tettleton, the Bobcats are scheduled to face two tough opponents to close their season. The Bobcats have found a lot of their success in the passing game with Tettleton, with ten players racking up at least 100 yards and nine different players grabbing at least one touchdown. The Bobcats are coming off a loss against Bowling Green last night, in which they won by a score of 26-14.

Bowling Green: Riding a six-game winning streak, the Falcons are faced with beating Kent State in order to reach the top of the MAC East, following their victory over Ohio. With the victory over Ohio, the Falcons improve to 5-1 in the conference and second place overall. The Falcons were led by their running back Anthon Samuel who scored two touchdowns and ran for 181 yards on 29 carries. Samuel put the game away in the fourth quarter on a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Miami (Ohio): Sitting at 3-2 overall in the MAC, the Redhawks have played a season marred by inconsistency, recently coming off a loss against a bottom-dwelling Buffalo team. The week before, Miami (Ohio) defeated the then-undefeated Ohio Bobcats. The inability to win games within its conference has been its Achilles’ heel, as losses to Bowling Green and Buffalo knocked Miami (Ohio) out of contention with the pace being set by East leaders Kent State and Ohio.

Buffalo: The Bulls picked up their first win in the last seven weeks over Miami (Ohio). The team has been hampered by poor quarterback performance all season long, as Alex Zordich has only thrown two more touchdowns than interceptions. Star running back Branden Oliver has been slowed by injuries for a big chunk of the season. The Bulls cannot even take solace in the opportunity to play spoiler the rest of the way, with no teams really in contention left on their schedule.

Akron: Winless the last seven weeks, the Zips have also struggled with inconsistency. The conference and overall record reflect consistently bad outcomes, but the scores say otherwise. The Zips have played close games with the likes of Miami (Ohio), Ohio and Kent State. On the other hand, they have been defeated handily by Tennessee, NIU and Central Michigan. With a game remaining against Toledo, they have another shot to showcase their pride, but overall it will have little effect on nothing but their own psyche.

UMass: There isn’t much to say about the season of the Minutemen. Few words do justice, and some probably are not appropriate for print. UMass has obviously struggled moving into a new conference with a higher level of competition than they had previously been playing against. UMass is the only winless team in the MAC, and has only scored 64 points in five games within the conference. The highlight of its season came in the form of their three-point defeat to the Bobcats, but it has all been downhill since then.

Toledo: The Rockets will know the fate of their season come next Wednesday. With the long-awaited matchup with NIU, the game will decide who goes to the MAC championship game from the West. The Rockets received a huge performance from running back David Fluellen in their loss to Ball State. The Rockets seek vindication from last season’s three-point loss to NIU in Toledo, and are looking to flip the script against their rival.

NIU: Playing the role of the alpha dog since week two, the Huskies are trying to get back to the point they reached last season. The defending MAC champions will need to defeat the Rockets in front of a national audience come next Wednesday night if they aim to make those dreams become reality. Junior quarterback Jordan Lynch has received massive support from his school’s athletic department in making his Heisman bid viral. Lynch will need to be at his very best for NIU to defeat Toledo.

Ball State: With a respectable 4-2 record in conference play, Ball State has put together a respectable season, but not enough to compete record-wise with Toledo and NIU. Despite defeating Toledo on Tuesday and being winners of their last four games, the Cardinals are out of contention for the MAC Championship game. Statistically, Ball State’s placement in the standings makes sense, as they are sitting third in points allowed, and just marginally above second place Toledo in points scored.

Western Michigan: With two wins in their last five games, the Broncos have lost to all of the top teams. With losses against Toledo, NIU, Kent State and Ball State, the Broncos have had little luck when it comes to playing within their conference. The Broncos have not been blown out in any games, but lack consistency within games and from game to game. The Broncos should be able to close their season on a positive note with games against Buffalo and Eastern Michigan, which should account for two more wins.

Central Michigan: With only one win in the last six games, the Chippewas have been on a downhill slide since their loss to NIU. The only win in that six-game stretch came against cellar-dwelling Akron. Central Michigan has had trouble scoring in their MAC contests, scoring 155 points while allowing 202. The Chippewas have a chance to up their ledger on the positive side with contests against UMass and Eastern Michigan still to come.

Eastern Michigan: With the second-worst MAC record, the Eagles haven’t been playing meaningful football in a while. Three games ago, they picked up their first and only win of the season against Army. In MAC action, the Eagles have laid an egg, scoring the second lowest amount of points with 104 and allowing 199. The Eagles still have to face Western Michigan and close their season against NIU. With only their pride on the line, the Eagles will look to embarrass their last two opponents this season.