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  1. "More powerful poll ever... get MAC " (To be progenitor of casual style must everyone, even you non-MAC coach patron, shall perform submittage of a MAC power ranking to Jieret by 11:59 PM, Tuesday December 12.) For your convenience, how the MAC fared overall. Current ranks based on the Pre-Season Overview's projected finishes. MAC Results After Weeks 0/1 Rank Team, Result Record (Conf. Record) Streak Next Week 1 Toledo WON vs. Ball St. 52-8 1-0 (1-0) W1 BYE 2 Western Michigan BYE 0-0 (0-0) - Saturday Evening vs #23 Duke (1-0) 3 Ohio WON at Old Dominion 40-7 1-0 (0-0) W1 BYE 4 Miami (OH) WON at Cincinnati 38-23 1-0 (0-0) W1 Saturday Afternoon at Bowling Green (0-0) 5 Akron LOST at Hawai'i 21-31 0-1 (0-0) L1 Thursday Night at Kansas State (1-0) 6 Buffalo LOST at Louisville 14-24 0-1 (0-0) L1 Thursday Night at Arkansas State (0-0) 7 Central Michigan WON vs. Southern Miss 35-31 1-0 (0-0) W1 Friday Night at Northern Illinois (0-0) 8 Ball State LOST at Toledo 8-52 0-1 (0-1) L1 BYE 9 Kent State LOST at Boise St. 14-41 0-1 (0-0) L1 Thursday Night at San Diego St. (0-0) 10 Bowling Green BYE 0-0 (0-0) - Saturday Afternoon vs. Miami (OH) (1-0) 11 Eastern Michigan BYE 0-0 (0-0) - Saturday Afternoon at #22Illinois (0-0) 12 Northern Illinois BYE 0-0 (0-0) - Friday Night vs. Central Michigan (1-0)
  2. This is Bruce Baguen back with special silent guest co-host Dan Doornink, ready to preview more of that hot #MACtion! Let's get to it! (Note: All stats cited are for 2020 unless otherwise noted.) Friday Night Miami (OH) Redhawks at Cincinnati Bearcats (Victory Bell game) Last year, it was Cincy that managed to shock the world State of Ohio by upsetting the Redhawks and claiming the Bell. Can Best!Miami bring it back north to Oxford? Third time's the charm, so we hear.... (Cincy's won the previous two games) When discussing the Redhawks, we believe there's a law somewhere stating we have to start with their offense and the FLAMETHROWER ZACK CERA. Easily the busiest passer in the MAC (340 of 570 [59.65%] for 3765 yards, 36/11 TD/INT in 13 games), Cera will continue to throw scorchers all over the field. His chief weapons from 2020, Mackey Award Winner TE Casey Swann (79 rec for 1038 yards, 14 TD) and WR Kenneth Harrison (74 rec for 787 yards, 11 TDs) both return to give Best!Miami a potent pair of inside/outside threats. One weakness that Miami hopes Cera worked on is his pocket awareness; he was sacked the most amount of times in the MAC last year (28) and coach @caesari believes another year of growth and improved blockers up front will drastically drop that number. Oh, and RB Ajani Garrett still exists and runs sometimes. (163 rushes for 700 yards, 8 TDs) Hey, Cera's arm gets tired - he needs a break! Faithful reader, you tell us if this might be a problem against a pass-heavy team: Number of Cincinnati Bearcats playing CB on their 2020 Depth Chart: 5 Number of returning Bearcats from 2020 playing CB in 2021: 0 Yup. Cincy will trot out a 2.0 of 3.0, 2.0 of 2.5, and 1.5 of 3.0 freshmen as their top three CBs. Against Zack Cera. <<insert everythingisfine.jpg>> Even with the Bearcats' best player SS Dominic Monk there to provide support, well, Monk can't be everywhere. This normally means we have to look at the defense's line to provide pressure and give Cera less time to throw, but we're not seeing any matchups that skew Cincinnati's way against an experience Miami line. Perhaps if redshirt freshman DE Leonardo Trujillo plays out of his mind, but he draws the Redhawks' best blocker in LT Andre Grey. So, can the Bearcats score enough to keep pace? Eh... they lost top WR Ahe Salanoa and their top two TEs. Their only pro potential lineman also graduated. They start massive (6'2", 334) redshirt freshman 5-star bookend Mohamed Mosley at LT, but Redhawk DE Donte Pennel and his 8.0 sacks return. Pennel will probably use Mosley's inexperience against him when Cincy QB Dillon Schaeffer drops back. The backfield is actually in a good spot with Schaeffer nearly leading the Bearcats to a bowl game and dependable RB Aaron Street (269 rushes for 1216 yards, 13 TDs) to help him carry the mail one more time. But is there a receiver the QB from Walnut Hills can trust? There's a LOT of inexperience scattered among the Bearcat pass-catchers, and if Miami's 5-star DT Morris Jackson can penetrate the Cincy line Schaeffer may not have the time he needs to take advantage of true freshman (1.0 or 4.0) Jeremiah Christy in the backfield. Prediction: 35-17 The Redhawks are much improved on offense, and the Bearcats lost anyone who played or even thought about playing cornerback. With so much Cincinnati turnover in the secondary (and at wideout) against a Miami team that returns so many starters? Sorry @Rome, but CERAWINSLOL. Ohio Bobcats at Old Dominion Monarchs The Monarchs open the season as gracious hosts to two-time MAC East champions Ohio. Old Dominion didn't really lose very much from the 2020 squad that made a bowl, but even with that the talent level is not really there - with a few notable exceptions. It's a testament to the job @KakesuSora did to coach last year's team into a bowl game. ODU's strength is on the defensive side of the ball, and one position is particular jumps out at you from their roster: CB Darren Logan 6-1 202 Jr Wayne County (Jessup, GA) 3.5 of 5.0 [Zone Coverage] ATH J.J. Fowler 6-1 202 Jr University (Morgantown, WV) 3.5 of 5.0 [Zone Coverage] That is a formidable CB tandem to contend with; expect to hear both their names called in the 2023 NFLHC draft. Helping their cause is promising redshirt freshman DE Omari Pearson (2.0 of 4.5). But the good news dries up rather quickly after that for the Monarchs. MLB Kayden Wilkerson and OLB Carter Patrick will keep the linebacking corps afloat, but there are holes in this defense that can be run through. And run is what we expect Ohio to do repeatedly. Hyped freshman QB Austin Lowe has plenty of experienced weapons to throw to in senior WR Dwayne Simpson (58 rec for 882 yards, 8 TDs) and junior TE Aaron Thibodeaux (57 rec for 856 yards, 6 TDs). But against a defensive line starting a pair of 2.5 of 2.5s? We think Jeffrey Flowers will work quickly and often to show the Bobcat fans that he is just as good as Owen. Freaking. WALTON. if not better, and allow Lowe to ease into his college career. It's a good thing for the Monarchs that QB Dylan Hamlin is a scrambler, because he will be running for his life repeatedly. His stats last year were respectable (157 of 251 [62.55%] for 1967 yards, 14/7 TD/INT, 56 car for 309 yards, 2 rushing TDs), and so were RB Isaiah Mitchell's (297 car for 1282 yards, 13 TDs). But this is an offensive line putting a true freshman 1.0 of 3.0 guard against junior Brady Whittaker who racked up 22 tackles and 4.5 sacks last year, and starting two more linemen with no better than a 2.5 potential. We don't expect Hamlin to have much of a pocket on Friday which will play into Ohio's ability to chase down opposing QBs with their linebackers - OLBs Donovan Pendleton and Myles Lindsay combined for 72 tackles and 3 sacks last season. If there's a saving grace for ODU on offense it's TE Montee Griffin, who has a lot of experience being Hamlin's safety blanket on scramble drills (24 rec for 393 yards, 2 TDs). Prediction: 30-10 Ohio is one of the best teams in the MAC, and Old Dominion simply doesn't have enough horses to run with the Bobcats. We expect Flowers to just run the ball down the Monarchs' collective throats and choke the life out of them. Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Central Michigan Chippewas The Byron Suggs Era is about to begin in Mt. Pleasant, and Southern Miss (known for all-time football great Etric Pruitt) is the first team to bear witness. Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair! Suggs (3.0 of 5.0) is probably the most-hyped freshman QB to come into the MAC in quite some time, and it's giving the CMU faithful hopes that he will be the best to ever don the maroon and gold (Yes, even more than Walt Sutherland. Sorry @ImposterCauster, @paperllamasunited). What makes his debut even more anticipated is that it isn't just him and ten stiffs on the offense, he has a couple of legit weapons on his side. 4.0 of 4.0 ATH/WR Joseph Aikman is a redshirt freshman, same as Suggs, and ever dependable TE Jasper Rowley (37 rec for 465 yards, 6 TDs) is still there to find soft spots in the middle of the field. Even RB Makai Carr (259 rushes for 1184 yards, 10 TDs) can at least present the threat of a running game. So the skill players are there. The offensive line... that's another story. How will this... um, unseasoned group of players hold up against the Golden Eagle defense? Most of them really needed another year of development; they're full of 3-star prospects but only LT Victor Reaves (3.5 of 3.5) and C Chris Whitley (3.0 of 3.0) have reached their full potential. So if there's a way to derail the Suggs Hype train, it's by plowing through the O-line. We're not really sold that Southern Miss is going to do it right out of the gate, though. The biggest threat the Eagles present to the Chips is 2.5 of 4.0 true sophomore Leonard Graves. He was Southern Miss' best pass rusher last year (20 TKL, 4.0 sacks, 1 FF) and is definitely the man Central needs to account for on the line. The problem for Southern is his fellow linemates are a: not any better skill-wise than Central's line, and b: not particularly adept at getting to the QB. Redshirt sophomore Micah Griffin is a force to be reckoned with (51 TKL, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR) but as a 4-3 Mike, don't expect to see him coming after Suggs on a blitz very often, if at all. If the Golden Eagles succeed in harassing Suggs, it's probably because Griffin and a secondary led by pro-hopeful SS Michael O'Neal were able to keep Aikman and Rowley under wraps long enough for coverage sacks. And what about that Southern Miss offense? Sophomore Alexander Cassidy returns after a tidy freshman season (198 of 308 [64.29%] for 2395 yards, 20/9 TD/INT) and top receiver TE Charles Sherrill (55 rec for 827, 9 TDs) returns to help him out. Sherrill could see an even bigger workload if new head coach @Ricky Campbell chooses to lean on his connection with Cassidy to carry the offense. First-time starter senior RB James Fitzgerald must replace Harrison Weir and his 1200+ yards, no easy feat, we'll see how much slack coach Ricky gives Fitzgerald. If Sherrill is the go-to receiver, that means he won't be chipping to help the Southern tackles with CMU bookends Nazir-Tatum Kimbrough and Rory Bolin. It's imperative for coach @johnkirk's squad that the duo be better than they were last year (4 sacks for Bolin but only 1 for Tatum-Kimbrough, especially without All-American A'Shawn Ellison to lock one side of the field down. There isn't much talent left in the Chips' secondary, so Central can't give Cassidy time to find second and third reads - the gunslinger will pick them apart if he does. Prediction: 28-24 In a matchup of young but flawed teams, Central looks like the squad that is further ahead. We believe Byron Suggs is the real deal and will show the world why MAC coaches will get sick of hearing the phrase "Suggs-to-Aikman (touchdown, unbelievable!)" Saturday Morning Buffalo Bulls at Louisville Cardinals The strengths for each team are relatively easy to see. It will be about the execution on Saturday. We begin with the Louisville DeSean Dockerys Cardinals and their offense, RB DeSean Dockery. A Heisman semi-finalist in 2020, Dockery rushed for over 1700 yards and scored 25 touchdowns on the ground. With last year’s starting QB Ayden Steele gone and redshirt sophomore Harrison Pratt taking over, the Cardinals will rely on the pass even less than they did last year - which wasn’t a whole lot to begin with. Louisville fortunately has a solid (if not exceptional) offensive line highlighted by RG Mekhi Norwood, and they’ll get a bit more help as we expect that they’ll run a lot of two-TE max blocking sets. Buffalo’s defensive mission is pretty clear, but will their front seven be up to the challenge of containing Dockery? The Bulls’ defensive linemen are all experienced but have already maxed out on their potential. But Buffalo doesn’t need the line to win, only to occupy blockers and not get blown off the ball. The group responsible for bringing Dockery down will be the Bull linebackers, led by OLB Alexander Moffett (37 TKL, 1 INT, 1 sack, 1 FR); they will be VERY busy Saturday. We expect some help for them as well, don’t be surprised if SS Thomas Gordon (30 TKL, 3 INT) drops into the box to present eight-man fronts on a regular basis. On the other side, this is Buffalo QB Blair Holcomb’s first chance to wow the scouts as a potential high draft pick. The reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Year (268 of 399 [67.17%] for 3532 yards, 35/7 TD/INT ratio) looks to pick up where he left off and he may do just that against this Cardinals defense. While up-and-coming sophomore star CB Logan Swain (15 TKL, 3 INT as a redshirt freshman) could present some problems, the other corners are nowhere near his skill level. Even with talented free safety Donte Whitfield on the field, he can’t help out #2 CB Shamar Lowery (2.5 of 2.5) and #3 CB Amadou Jones (2.5 of 3.5) at the same time; Holcomb likes to spread the ball out. One enticing potential matchup is Bulls TE Xavier Frey, their leading receiver from last year (52 rec for 860, 11 TDs) against the Cardinals’ best defender, OLB Prince Matos (31 TKL, 3.5 sacks, 2 FF). Or maybe Matos will just go after Holcomb directly and leave Frey to Will linebacker Beckett Ring, Louisville’s leading tackler from last season (53 TKL, 4 INT, although they played a 4-3 then instead of this year’s 3-4). Going after Holcomb might be the better option period, because Buffalo’s O-line is not what we’re used to seeing from them in years past. Outside of center D.J. Wilkinson, the big men are going to be tested repeatedly - three of them don’t have a current skill of 3 or higher, and centers man both guard spots. How the Buffalo coaching staff compensates for this will be a fascinating story to follow throughout the season. Prediction: 24-20 We’ll be the first to admit that this is probably a generous homer pick. But Buffalo and coach SodapopSeth has surprised us before with their ability to compensate for weaknesses (see last season when they shut down Best!Miami and UCLA despite a patchwork secondary). We’re leaning on that and probably a fair amount of the Fabulous One Denzel Porter up the middle behind Wilkinson. If Buffalo can get an early lead on the hosts, the Cardinals are not very well built to throw the ball. Saturday Afternoon Kent State (0-0) at Boise State (0-0) A tale of two State teams that want to put season-ending bowl losses behind them with an opening week victory. “It was the best of games, it was the worst of games….” Boise QB Roman Green had a middling season last year (207 of 343 [60.35%] for 2523 yards, 14/13 TD/INT, 56 rushes for 208 yards, 3 TDs in 13 games) and he may be in for more of the same this year. His growth and experience is tempered by the graduation of several offensive linemen, starting RB Marquise Allen, and top wideout Mahamadou Polk. New RB Devin Cannon (3.5 of 3.5) is a solid-looking back but untested; same for the Broncos’ top wide receiver (Jayson Geary, 2.0 of 4.0) and their top tight end (Atamu Niumatalolo, 2.5 of 4.5). Their guards are both 1.0 of 3.5, their RT a 2.5 of 3.0. There are holes to be exploited here. But is Kent State capable of doing that? The Golden Flashes do return both starting DEs from last year in Nehemiah Reeves (18 TKL, 4.5 sacks) and Jacob Dennison (11 TKL, 2.5 sacks), and it’s possible that Reaves can take advantage of the Boise RT. But despite the size (6’7” 313), Kent State DT Amari Herron is very movable (2.0 of 2.5). MLB Kenneth Newsome is a 2.5 of 2.5. The Golden Flashes will probably have to sell out to stop the run and hope that a secondary with JuCo SS Steven Gordon and three other guys will hold up. John Garland and Harrison Mullin. These two have been the face of Kent State football forever, for good or for ill. Their final season starts by facing a Boise defense that outguns them at virtually every matchup, highlighted by pro prospect DT Kaden Oglesby and a pair of 4-star cornerbacks. As fond as we are at the MAC Network of Garland and Mullin, we’re not sure they can conjure the magic needed to win the game for Kent State. They’ll probably need their defense to set them up with short fields somehow. Prediction: 27-13 We thought there would be a better chance for Kent State when we saw Boise’s offense, but Boise’s defense dashed those hopes. Any magic pixie dust the Golden Flashes have laying around is probably better saved for conference play anyhow. Akron vs. Hawaii to come....
  3. Defensive Line: Toledo DE Dwayne Briggs 6-1 251 (Jr) Germantown (Germantown, WI) 4.5 of 4.5 [Contain] (2020 Stats: 38 TKL, 7.5 sacks) DT De'Shawn Beckwith 6-3 285 Jr Northfield (Northfield, MN) 4.5 of 4.5 [1-Gap] (2020 Stats: DNP) DT Damian Larkin 6-2 287 (So) Lompoc (Lompoc, CA) 4.0 of 5.0 [2-Gap] (2020 Stats: DNP) DE Ezekiel Williams Jr. 6-1 265 Jr Southwestern Community College (Creston, IA) 4.0 of 4.5 [Blitz] (2020 Stats: DNP) -On paper, probably the second-best line in the nation behind Penn State. Even though there are three new starters, it's very unlikely there's going to be any difficulties integrating them into the defense. Akron DE Ousmane McMillan 6-3 258 (Sr) Springfield (Holland, OH) 3.0 of 3.0 [Blitz] (2020 Stats: 18 TKL, 2.5 sacks) DT Marlon Bailey 6-7 322 (Sr) Goshen (Goshen, OH) 5.0 of 5.0 [2-Gap] (2020 Stats: 49 TKL, 7.0 sacks) DT Jeremiah Clarke 6-5 276 (So) Lockport Township (Lockport, IL) 3.0 of 5.0 [1-Gap] (2020 Stats: DNP) DT Calvin Jenkins 6-1 308 (Sr) Marshall Prep (Duluth, MN) 3.5 of 3.5 [2-Gap] (2020 Stats: DNP) -The "Eater of Worlds" comes back to terrorize MAC offensive lines once more, and this time he brought a friend in Jeremiah Clarke. Marlon Bailey deserves to be in the conversation for best defensive lineman in the country and is looking like a first-round pick in the 2022 draft. Ball State DT Isamaeli Afamasaga 6-4 285 Sr Greenville (Greenville, OH) 4.0 of 4.0 [1-Gap] (2020 Stats: 20 TKL, 4.5 sacks) DT Rashaad Malcolm 6-6 327 Sr Lewis & Clark Community College (Godfrey, IL) 4.5 of 4.5 [2-Gap] (2020 Stats: 34 TKL, 7.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR) DE Christian Mosley 6-1 268 Jr Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, IL) 2.5 of 3.5 [Contain] (2020 Stats: DNP) -One last go-around for the Twin Towers Malcolm and Afamasaga. Coach klemm isn't worried about their production, he's hoping that the attention paid to them allows Mosley to make some waves of his own. One to Watch: WMU DE Joseph Crowe 6-0 243 (Jr) Bement (Bement, IL) 3.0 of 3.0 [Contain] (2020 Stats: DNP) DT Silas Booker 6-2 321 (So) Brecksville-Broadview Heights (, OH) 3.5 of 4.5 [1-Gap] (2020 Stats: 21 TKL, 4.0 sacks, 1 FR) DT Rocco Gifford 6-4 318 (Jr) Northridge (Johnstown, OH) 4.0 of 4.0 [2-Gap] (2020 Stats: 23 TKL, 3.0 sacks, 1 FR) DE Victor Roberson 6-5 262 (Fr) Bentley (Burton MI) 3.5 of 3.5 [Blitz] (2020 Stats: DNP) -This group will be able to hold its own, but coach Jieret is going to need them to do more than that to make up for a shaky linebacking corps. The magnifying glass settles in on Roberson, who slots in for a graduated Michael McKinney and his 7.5 sacks. Linebackers: Ohio OLB Donovan Pendleton 6-2 238 Sr Wonewoc-Center (Wonewoc, WI) 4.0 of 4.0 [Blitz] (2020 Stats: 22 TKL, 3.0 sacks) ILB Calvin Blue 6-2 230 (Sr) (Benilde-St. Margaret's, MN) 4.0 of 4.0 [Mike] (2020 Stats: 40 TKL, 2 INT, 0.5 sacks) ILB Finn Ricketts 6-2 226 (Sr) Cheboygan Area (Cheboygan, MI) 3.5 of 3.5 [Mike] (2020 Stats: DNP) OLB Myles Lindsay 6-1 235 Sr Notre Dame (Quincy, IL) 4.0 of 4.0 [Coverage] (2020 Stats: 50 TKL, 1 FR) -The most consistent group in the conference over the last several years, this (Calvin Blue in particular) is the heart of Ohio's defense. Toledo ILB Ryan Carr 6-3 264 So Ada (Ada OH) 3.0 of 4.5 [Mike] (2020 Stats: 47 TKL, 1 FF) OLB Nicolas Kowalski 5-11 237 Jr Cleveland Heights (, OH) 4.0 of 4.0 [Coverage] (2020 Stats: 19 TKL, 1 FR) OLB Dennis Jarrett 6-3 223 (So) Avon Lake (Lake, OH) 3.5 of 3.5 [Blitz] (2020 Stats: 34 TKL, 1.0 sack) -When this is the weakest part of the defense... smh. Buffalo OLB Alexander Moffett 6-2 224 So Southside (Elmira NY) 3.5 of 4.5 [Coverage] (2020 Stats: 37 TKL, 1 INT, 1.0 sack, 1 FR) ILB Raymond McCain 6-0 222 (So) Holy Cross (Flushing, NY) 3.0 of 4.0 [Mike] (2020 Stats: DNP) ILB Lucas Callaway 6-1 243 (Sr) Stonington (Stonington, CT) 3.5 of 3.5 [Mike] (2020 Stats: 39 TKL, 1 INT, 1.0 sack, 3 FF, 1 FR) OLB Kamari Slade 6-0 244 (Jr) Saranac Lake (Saranac Lake, NY) 3.5 of 3.5 [Coverage] (2020 Stats: DNP) -Led by true sophomore Alexander Moffett, this is clearly the best - and most opportunistic- part of the Bulls' defense. One to watch: EMU OLB Brian Pearson 5-11 234 (So) Jay County (Portland, IN) 3.0 of 3.5 [Blitz] (2020 Stats: DNP) ILB Julien Rinehart 6-2 236 (Jr) Hudson Area (Hudson, MI) 4.0 of 4.0 [Will] (2020 Stats: 38 TKL, 3 INT) ILB Mosi Gary 6-3 236 Jr Wayne County Community College (Detroit, MI) 3.5 of 4.0 [Will] (2020 Stats: DNP) OLB Brayden Winters 6-1 226 (Sr) Lincoln Park (Chicago, IL) 3.5 of 3.5 [Blitz] (2020 Stats: 33 TKL) -The crew from Ypsilanti finally show up on our lists, bolstered by JuCo Mosi Gary. This corps must pick up the slack left by DT Shane Horton's (29 TKL, 6.0 sacks, 1 FF) graduation if Eastern is going to hold up at all on defense. Secondary: Toledo CB Levern White 5-9 162 Sr Gogebic Community College (Ironwood MI) 4.5 of 4.5 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: 23 TKL, 6 INT, 1 TD) CB Adam Haywood 6-0 196 Sr Brookhaven (Columbus, OH) 4.0 of 4.0 [Zone Coverage] (2020 Stats: 8 TKL, 3 INT) CB Quinton Wilkerson 5-9 204 So Gibsonburg (Gibsonburg OH) 2.5 of 3.5 [Zone Coverage] (2020 Stats: 3 TKL, 2 INT) FS Mekhi Singleton 6-0 205 (So) Posen (Posen, MI) 4.5 of 4.5 [Zone Coverage] (2020 Stats: DNP) SS Isiah Poole 6-0 183 Sr Northeast (Arma, KS) 4.0 of 4.0 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: 1 TKL) -Cornerback depth could be severely tested if either White or Haywood go down, but they are the best CB tandem in the MAC while healthy. WMU CB Jaylin McQueen 5-10 189 Sr Wheaton North (Wheaton, IL) 4.0 of 4.0 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: 10 TKL, 2 INT) CB Emmanuel Faulk 5-10 173 (Sr) Germantown (Germantown, WI) 3.5 of 3.5 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: 2 TKL, 1 INT) CB Miles Bradford 5-9 171 Fr Pacelli (Stevens Point WI) 2.0 of 4.0 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: DNP) FS Donovan Jackson 5-11 200 Sr Warren Central (Indianapolis, IN) 4.0 of 4.0 [Zone Coverage] (2020 Stats: 23 TKL, 2 INT) SS Jaylin Hinds 6-0 186 (Jr) South Heart (South Heart, ND) 4.0 of 4.0 [Zone Coverage] (2020 Stats: 5 TKL, 1 FF) -Even with Sean Taylor's departure to the pros this is still a very good secondary, albeit one without the ability to affect gameplans the way Taylor did. True freshman Bradford immediately becomes one of the best nickle backs in the conference. Buffalo CB Daniel Braxton 5-11 197 (Jr) Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn, NY) 3.0 of 3.5 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: DNP) CB Usher Crocker 5-11 195 (Sr) Hico (Hico, TX) 3.0 of 3.0 [Zone Coverage] (2020 Stats: DNP) SS Dominique Waller 5-11 191 Fr DePaul Catholic (Wayne NJ) 2.0 of 4.5 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: DNP) FS Travis Doe 5-11 209 (Sr) Mt. Pleasant (Providence, RI) 3.5 of 3.5 [Zone Coverage] (2020 Stats: 25 TKL) SS Thomas Gordon 5-10 193 Sr Housatonic Valley Regional (, CT) 4.0 of 4.0 [Zone Coverage] (2020 Stats: 30 TKL, 3 INT) -The Bulls don't have the best CB tandem remaining in the MAC (that's NIU). But the presence of the hard-hitting Gordon and a better nickel back pushes Buffalo over the Huskies in these ratings. One to Watch: Ohio CB Shawn Tillman 5-10 194 Jr Springfield (Holland, OH) 3.5 of 5.0 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: 24 TKL, 6 INT) CB Savion Willingham 6-0 169 Fr Triway (Wooster OH) 2.5 of 3.5 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: DNP) CB Cooper Rainey 5-10 203 Fr Hales Franciscan (Chicago IL) 1.0 of 4.0 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: DNP) FS Marc McFadden 6-1 197 (Sr) Barnesville (Barnesville, OH) 3.0 of 3.0 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: DNP) SS Lucas Key 6-2 219 (Sr) Hudson Area (Hudson, MI) 3.0 of 3.0 [Man Coverage] (2020 Stats: 7 TKL, 2 INT) -The Bobcats will rely on a pair of true freshmen to play alongside Shawn Tillman. Tillman is the only proven member of the secondary, so this could be very much a boom-or-bust unit. Kicking/Punting: WMU K Harry DeMarco 6-3 221 (So) Pottsboro (Pottsboro, TX) 4.0 of 4.0 [Power] (2020 Stats: 25/26 FGs made, long 48) P Tony Post 6-0 184 Fr Holy Cross (River Grove IL) 3.0 of 3.5 [Accuracy] (2020 Stats: DNP) EMU K Simon Hand 6-1 221 (Sr) Warren Central (Indianapolis, IN) 4.0 of 4.0 [Power] (2020 Stats: 16/17 FGs made, long 48) P Matthew Guy 6-0 180 Sr Triton Central (Fairland, IN) 3.0 of 3.0 [Power] (2020 Stats: 37.35 avg.) Miami (OH) K Zachary Crowell 6-1 185 Sr Cass (Walton, IN) 3.5 of 3.5 [Accuracy] (2020 Stats: DNP) P Ivan Gonzales 5-10 174 (So) Euclid (Euclid, OH) 3.0 of 4.5 [Accuracy] (2020 Stats: DNP) One to Watch: Toledo ATH Sam Painter 6-4 159 (Fr) Horatio (Horatio AR) 2.0 of 5.0 [Accuracy] (2020 Stats: DNP) P Eric Caudill 5-10 176 (So) Alma (Alma, WI) 4.0 of 5.0 [Accuracy] (2020 Stats: 41.63 avg.) -If there's a weakness to this Rockets squad, it's the possibility of an inconsistent kicking game.
  4. In the MAC Network's never-ending quest to get more clicks bring quality content and debate to you, faithful reader, we are going to take one last look at the teams of Everybody's Favorite Conference and give you the best of each position group in the MAC as decided by Ouija board expert analysis, plus a team that could surprise. It isn't necessarily based off of just their skill ratings either, expected performance for this season plays a big part in determining these rankings. Quarterback: Buffalo Blair Holcomb 5-11 207 (Sr) Hudson Valley Community College (Troy NY) 5.0 of 5.0 [Pocket] 2020 Stats: 268 of 399 (67.17%) for 3532 yards, 35/7 TD/INT. -Holcomb being at the top of this list shouldn't surprise anyone who paying attention last year. Instead of just being a highly-skilled person who hands the ball off like some analysts (*ahem*) thought, he single-handedly transformed the Buffalo offense into a lethal air attack. Now scouts are watching him closely to see if the has a first-round pedigree. Miami Zack Cera 5-10 221 (Jr) Flushing (Flushing, MI) 4.5 of 4.5 [Pocket] 2020 Stats: 340 of 570 (59.65%) for 3745 yards, 36/11 TD/INT. -The Redhawks' vertical offense doesn't work without the FLAMETHROWER to ignite it. Cera took a step forward last year in learning to trust his progressions. Now he needs to work on sliding around in the pocket and avoiding sacks; he was dropped a conference-high 28 times in 2020. Toledo Michael Thompson 5-10 228 (Sr) Hudson Valley Community College (Troy, NY) 4.5 of 4.5 [Pocket] 2020 Stats: No stats. -Thompson inherits one of the best setups of any QB in the MAC, but nothing is known about the JuCo transfer. If he works out as well as previous Toledo QB (and fellow JuCo) Benjamin Hanson the Rockets will be ecstatic. One to Watch: CMU Byron Suggs 6-0 195 (Fr) Pewaukee (Pewaukee WI) 3.0 of 5.0 [Scrambling] 2020 Stats: No stats. -Previous CMU coach @paperllamasunited went all-out to recruit Suggs before moving to Iowa, and after watching him in camp it's easy to see why. Suggs certainly looks the part, and he has choice weapons in fellow freshman Joseph Aikman and reliable TE Jasper Rowley. Running back: Toledo Gabe Ciamo 6-0 174 (Jr) Paoli (Paoli, IN) 5.0 of 5.0 [Speed] 2020 Stats: 295 rushes for 1503 yards, 18 TDs -Ciamo is even better than his excellent stats indicate; being part of a balanced Toledo attack will suppress the numbers a bit. But we expect Ciamo to be the offensive focal point this year, even though the Rockets will still seek a balance. WMU DeSean Madison 5-7 222 (So) Mifflin (Columbus, OH) 4.0 of 5.0 [Power] 2020 Stats: 307 rushes for 1616 yards, 21 TDs, 3 Fum lost -Western hopes that with a year of experience under his belt Madison learns to secure the ball better, which was the only flaw in an otherwise excellent freshman season. MAC coaches aren't looking forward to him battering their defenses for at least two more years. Ohio Jeffrey Flowers 6-0 204 (Jr) Dean College (Franklin, MA) 4.5 of 4.5 [Speed] 2020 Stats: No stats. -A JuCo transfer, Flowers gets the nod here over the other excellent RBs in the MAC due to his environment - the other pieces on Ohio's offense are better than the other candidates and will make him better. One to Watch: Akron Nathaniel Ruff 5-6 176 (Sr) Sandwich Community (Sandwich, IL) 4.5 of 4.5 [Speed] 2020 Stats: 287 rushes for 1295 yards, 12 TDs, 2 Fum (1 lost) -Ruff may have been the most underrated back in the conference, but no longer. With T.J. Zamora graduated, this is Ruff's offense to carry and he'll need to put up numbers closer to Ciamo and Madison if the Zips are to return to a bowl this year. Wide receiver/Tight ends: Miami (OH) WR Kenneth Harrison 6-1 153 (Sr) Holland Christian (Holland, MI) 4.0 of 4.0 [Speed] WR Lucas Pierson 6-2 199 (Jr) Shell Lake (Shell Lake, WI) 3.5 of 3.5 [Target] WR Keith Barnes 6-4 206 (Jr) Central Community (Breese, IL) 3.5 of 3.5 [Target] TE Casey Swann 6-1 206 (Jr) Burke (Omaha, NE) 4.0 of 4.0 [Receiving] -With last year's Mackey Award winner (Swann) back for another spell, Zack Cera, and the Redhawks' offensive tendencies, expect this group to easily outpace the rest of the pass-catchers in the MAC. Toledo WR Prince Malone 6-3 221 (Fr) Padua Franciscan (Parma OH) 2.0 of 4.5 [Target] WR Justin Evans 5-11 168 (Jr) Gavilan College (Gilroy CA) 4.5 of 4.5 [Speed] WR Jaiden Hightower 6-2 232 (Fr) Northridge (Dayton OH) 2.0 of 3.5 [Target] TE Nate Linsley 6-1 218 (Jr) Limestone Community (Bartonville, IL) 4.0 of 5.0 [Blocking] -Evans is probably the most polished route-runner in the MAC, and Malone is promising but raw. But it says here that Nate Linsley improves greatly on his 29-catch, 411-yard statline from last season. Buffalo WR Khalil Stubbs 5-11 169 (Jr) Penn Cambria (Cresson, PA) 3.5 of 3.5 [Speed] WR Cristian Holguin 6-1 216 Jr Joaquin (Joaquin, TX) 3.5 of 3.5 [Target] WR Mayer Hays 6-1 165 (Sr) Newberg (Newberg, OR) 3.0 of 3.0 [Speed] TE Xavier Frey 6-1 225 (Jr) Barrington (Barrington, RI) 4.0 of 4.0 [Blocking] -By skill alone, this isn't a group that should make this list. But Blair Holcomb has to throw to somebody, and Holguin actually tied for the most WR TDs in conference last year with 11 (and 842 yards to boot). One to Watch: CMU ATH Joseph Aikman 6-5 227 (Fr) Alma (Alma WI) 4.0 of 4.0 [Target] WR Richard Mace 5-10 154 Jr Crest (Shelby, NC) 3.0 of 3.0 [Speed] WR William Coates 5-10 180 (So) Calhoun Falls (Falls, SC) 3.0 of 3.0 [Speed] TE Jasper Rowley 6-1 216 (Jr) North Branch (North Branch, MI) 4.0 of 4.5 [Blocking] -Again, if Byron Suggs makes his case as one of the nation's top freshman QBs it will have a lot to do with having some big targets in Aikman and Rowley. Offensive Line: Toledo ATH Keith Holbrook 6-3 285 (So) Northfield (Northfield, MN) 3.5 of 5.0 [Pass Blocking] OG Brett Spangler 6-5 291 (Jr) Grossmont College (El Cajon, CA) 3.5 of 4.5 [Run Blocking] C Vic Troutman 6-1 288 (Fr) Wauseon (Wauseon OH) 2.0 of 5.0 [Pass Blocking] OG John Aldridge 6-3 316 Sr North Marion (Farmington, WV) 3.5 of 3.5 [Run Blocking] OT Isaac Decker 6-3 286 Fr Central Community (Breese IL) 2.0 of 5.0 [Run Blocking] Miami OT Andre Grey 6-1 286 (Jr) Cass (Walton, IN) 4.0 of 4.0 [Pass Blocking] OG Xavier Bridges 6-3 272 (Sr) Frankfort (Frankfort, IN) 4.0 of 4.0 [Run Blocking] C Zack Gillespie 6-4 276 (Jr) Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, IL) 3.5 of 3.5 [Pass Blocking] OG Joseph Westfall 6-5 264 Jr Elyria Catholic (Elyria, OH) 4.0 of 4.0 [Pass Blocking] OT Ronny Sparks 6-5 258 (Jr) Chipola College (Marianna FL) 3.5 of 3.5 [Pass Blocking] WMU OT Marc Allen 6-6 281 (Sr) Dutchess Community College (Poughkeepsie NY) 4.5 of 4.5 [Pass Blocking] ATH Kualii Umaga 6-3 255 (Fr) Brandywine (Niles MI) 2.0 of 5.0 [Pass Blocking] C Otto Langston 6-3 290 (Jr) Holly (Holly, MI) 3.5 of 3.5 [Run Blocking] OG Alex Westbrook 6-2 291 (Jr) Lincoln Park (Chicago, IL) 4.0 of 4.0 [Run Blocking] OT Avery Curley 6-3 292 So Napoleon (Napoleon MI) 2.0 of 4.5 [Run Blocking] One to Watch: BGSU OT Ryan Parrott 6-1 301 So Jackson-Milton (North Jackson OH) 2.5 of 3.0 [Pass Blocking] OG Maximillian Pope 6-2 277 (Sr) Pine Island (Pine Island, MN) 4.0 of 4.0 [Pass Blocking] C Jonas Zambrano 6-4 274 (Jr) Saks (Anniston, AL) 4.0 of 4.0 [Run Blocking] OG Derrick Briggs 6-4 285 (Jr) Dominican (Whitefish Bay, WI) 5.0 of 5.0 [Run Blocking] OT Brendan Hankins 6-1 284 Fr Mesquite (Mesquite TX) 2.0 of 3.0 [Run Blocking] -If @Popadom17 can figure out how to give those tackles consistent help... Defense and the kicking game to come.
  5. It's good to be back, everyone! The MAC Network is excited to kick off another season that's sure to be memorable and incredible! Along with our special silent guest co-host for the week Dan Doornink, I'm Bruce Baguen. Proud to be here for a third season of #MACtion! But you know we can't start our inaugural 2021 Preview Show without one of the most anticipated traditions in all of sports; the lighting of the #MACtion torch. #MACtion Jenny, do the honors please! Beautiful. Just beautiful. Only one game on the docket, so let's get to it! (Stats are for 2020 unless otherwise noted) Ball State Cardinals at Toledo Rockets Who wants to walk with Elias (Carter)? Coach npklemm does, naming the redshirt senior the starter over true senior Marquis Causey. The Drifter put up better numbers (69 of 126 for 805 yds, 6/6 TD/INT in 5 games, 114.62 QBR) last year than Causey did (100 of 170 for 1089 yds, 4/7 TD/INT in 7 games, 112.16 QBR), but not enough to make anyone overly excited about it. Coach klemm has already stated that the Cardinals want to be a running-focused team, and if Ball State gets their way Carter won't have many chances to test his leash by throwing. Back to make that running game hum yet again is senior Austin Laws (240 rushes for 1032 yards, 11 TDs). He's better than his stats showed, but when the passing game was dysfunctional enough to show up on Jerry Springer the opposing defense can stack the box pretty well. Backing up Austin Laws is freshman sensation Damani Laws (2.5 of 5.0, no relation), ready to step in if Austin gets banged up. If Ball State has to throw, their top returners are WR Jayson Zarate-Lima (38 rec for 425 yards, 1 TD) and TE Siali McMullin (33 rec for 442 yards, 2 TDs) - 2020's leading receiver Chan Pease took his 55 catches and almost 700 yards to the pros. Look for redshirt freshman TE Steven Moya (2.0 of 5.0) to make an impact this year as he won the starting job outright out of camp, moving McMullin out to the wing permanently. Just don't look for Moya or anyone else to make an impact this week. In case you haven't heard, the Rockets defense is pretty dang good this year. Their worst starter (3.5 of 3.5 (So) OLB Dennis Jarrett) would be a no-doubt starter on virtually every other team in the conference, except maybe Ohio's. Jarrett and MLB Ryan Carr (3.0 of 4.5) are the only Toledo starters with a current skill under 4.0. It's pretty hard to figure out an offensive gameplan against them, especially when there's no tape. We expect that the majority of the work the secondary will see comes in the second half as Ball State will probably have to throw quite a bit, trying to come from behind. It's kind of crazy to think that the unit with the 1500-yard rusher who is a possible future Day 1/2 draft pick is the unit that gets less press, but that's the world #Toledo2021 lives in. Junior RB Gabe Ciamo has 2992 rushing yards and 38 TDs in his two-year career and is a good bet to make it to 4500 yards and 55 TDs at the end of this year. Despite the presence of fellow All-MAC nominee Justin Evans (58 rec for 865 yards, 9 TDs), the uncertainty around talented but new QB Michael Thompson (4.5 of 4.5) may cause coach deathcpo to lean on his running game more in the early going. For this game, that leads to the battle to watch - Toledo's offensive line against Ball State's Twin Towers, DTs Rashaad Malcolm and Isamaeli Afamasaga. The two big tackles have been the best part of the Cardinals defense for several years now, but coach klemm has added a new wrinkle in this year's look. Afamasaga shifted to the 5-tech DE spot in Ball State's new 3-4 defense. With the other DE, Christian Mosley, being a Contain-type the Cardinals' focus is on preventing the run. Toledo's offensive line group is among the best in the conference, however, if young. The majority of them have 5-star potential, but they are starting three underclassmen so it remains to be seen how they react to true game speed. But IF they can open holes for Ciamo, and IF they can give Thompson time to find Evans and TE Nate Linsley then the battle is lost for Ball State - outside of SS DeAndre Simms (4.0 of 4.0) no one else on the Cardinal defense impresses. Prediction: 38-14 This is not the start coach klemm wanted for an overmatched Cardinal squad. Ball State's road to a bowl game truly begins in week 3, while Toledo's road to glory starts here. Special silent guest co-host Dan Doornink will be back again next week when we dive into the rest of the MAC games for your reading pleasure, so until then this is Bruce Baguen reminding you: "If it's not MAC, it's wack!"
  6. The MAC Network has selected a team of players that we think you should all keep an eye out for this season. You should actually watch all of the MAC players (ALL OF THEM), but we expect remarkable things from the young men listed below. Without further ado: QB: Blair Holcomb, (Sr) RB: Gabe Ciamo, (Jr) RB: DeSean Madison, (So) WR: Justin Evans, (Jr) WR: Kenneth Harrison, (Sr) TE: Casey Swann, (Jr) OT: Marc Allen, (Sr) OG: Alex Westbrook, (Jr) C: D.J. Wilkinson, Jr OG: Derrick Briggs, (Jr) OT: Keith Holbrook, (So) DE: Dwayne Briggs, (Jr) DE: Ezekiel Williams Jr., Jr DT: Marlon Bailey, (Sr) DT: Rashaad Malcolm, Sr ILB: Calvin Blue, (Sr) ILB: Oliver McNeal, (So) OLB: Nicolas Kowalski, Jr OLB: Donovan Pendleton, Sr CB: Levern White, Sr CB: Samuel Echols, (Jr) FS: Mekhi Singleton, (So) SS: Thomas Gordon, Sr K: Harry DeMarco, (So) P: Eric Caudill, (So) (Yes, 2 DTs and 2 ILBs.) Selections by team: Akron - 1 Ball State - 1 Bowling Green - 1 Buffalo - 3 Central Michigan - 0 Eastern Michigan - 0 Kent State - 0 Miami (OH) - 2 Northern Illinois - 2 Ohio - 2 Toledo - 9 Western Michigan - 4 "If it's not MAC, it's wack!"
  7. Welcome to the 2021 season! It's great to be back for another season of wild #MACtion. 2020 was a good year for the conference with seven teams making a bowl and their first-ever playoff appearance. Will 2021 be even better? We certainly hope so. But let's look at the teams of the Mid-American! Along with analysis by the MAC Network, the MAC coaches were also polled and asked to rank the teams based on where they think each school will finish this year. Some also provided their comments on each team. Without further ado, in alphabetical order.... (Note: any stats provided are 2020 season stats.) Akron Zips (9-4 last year) Coach: @darkage (3rd year) Returning Starters: Offense: 5 Defense: 5 Key Losses: QB T.J. Zamora (230 of 367 for 2850 yards, 18/7 TD/INT, 57 rushes for 348 yards, 2 rush TDs, 1 Fum Lost), C Jacob Alves, CB Troy Galloway (17 TKL, 5 INT, 1 FR), SS Jadon Boykin (10 TKL) Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 3 Projected conference finish: 5th (3rd MAC East) Overview: Departed QB T.J. Zamora may have jump-started the Zips’ run to prominence last season, but it was the “Eater of Worlds” Marlon Bailey (49 tackles, 7.0 sacks) who raised the bar for an Akron team that led the conference in sacks with 28 last year. With Bailey returning for one more go-around, the Zips look to exceed expectations and challenge for the MAC East crown. Position of Strength: The defensive interior. As if dealing with Bailey wasn’t enough, Akron now features a second 5-star player on the line in DT Jeremiah Clarke. The duo is set to make life miserable for opposing offensive linemen and with JuCo MLB Devin Frazier plucked from nearby Kirtland, it’s hard to imagine many interior rushing plays going for positive yardage. Position of Weakness: Secondary. With no starters having higher than 3-star potential - and only FS Aron Ricketts playing to his potential - the Zips’ back four can expect to see a LOT of footballs chucked in their direction. Position to Watch: Quarterback. After four years of the T.J. Zamora Experience, redshirt junior Griffin Donahue will take the snaps under center. It took Zamora all the way until his senior year to put things together, can Donahue harness his talent sooner? It helps that he has underrated RB Nathaniel Ruff (287 carries for 1295, 12 TDs) to lean on. Coaches' Comments: Should run the ball well, offense capable of 25 PPG. Secondary is weakness on Defense. 6-8 Wins ceiling Expect a career year for Nathaniel Ruff, with behind a solid O-line, as opposed to an average receiving corp. Would be higher, but they have too may holes in the defense to claim a contender spot. Zips backfield is great, O-line okay, receviers meh. Running on this defense may be next to impossible, but that secondary is not good at all Strengths- run game, d-line. Weaknesses- Cbs/Wrs Ball State Cardinals (1-11 last year) Coach: @npklemm (1st year) Returning Starters: Offense: 6 Defense: 5 Key Losses: WR Chan Pease (55 rec for 696 yards, 4 TDs) Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 12 Projected conference finish: 8th (4th MAC West) Overview: In what was a shocking move to many - but shouldn’t have been- former Virginia coach npklemm left the Cavs after their first playoff appearance ever to return home to his alma mater. No one will doubt the coach’s credentials, but they do doubt Ball State’s ability to make a bowl this year. Npklemm hopes to accelerate the rebuilding process and bring the Cardinals to the same heights he brought the Hoos, sooner rather than later. Position of Strength: Defensive line. MAC coaches are tired of seeing Twin Tower DTs Isamaeli Afamasaga (20 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and Rashaad Malcolm (34 tackles, 7.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR) lining up next to each other - this is their third and final year doing so. But they’re lining up differently this time; with Ball State’s move to a 3-4 defense Afamasaga has been moved to the 5-technique DE spot. Position of Weakness: Linebacker. Three of their four starters (2.5/3.5. 2.5/3.5, 3.0/3.0, 2.5/3.0) are underclassmen and wouldn’t normally be starting. But lack of depth again rears its head, forcing players to play too early. Position to Watch: Quarterback. Which one would you like to have starting? QB A: 69 of 126 for 805 yds, 6/6 TD/INT in 5 games, 114.62 QBR QB B: 100 of 170 for 1089 yds, 4/7 TD/INT in 7 games, 112.16 QBR It was a rough year for any Ball State signal caller, but with no blue-chip QB prospect in the fold coach klemm gave the starting nod to Marquis Causey. Causey didn’t take the step forward many expected him to when Chan Pease was there; can klemm do his QB whisperer magic for Causey like he did with Matteo Rook? Causey is QB B, by the way. Coaches' Comments: You can see the beginnings of a potent offense, but even a coach like npklemm needs some time to mold his team. Only the defensive line scares you here QB is an issue. Back 7 leaves a lot to be desired. 6 Wins Ceiling Potential for a fun gun slinging offense with a host of well rounded staff. Defense on the whole seems under staffed with the exception of a few standouts. This feels too low. Offensive spark and a new coach with pedigree could have them surprise people. Strengths- d-line/safeties...COACH. Weaknesses- lack of depth at key postitions Bowling Green Falcons (2-10 last year) Coach: @Popadom17 (2nd year) Returning Starters: Offense: 8 Defense: 6 Key Losses: OLB Brandon Thomas (50 TKL, 5.0 sacks), DE Theodore Bergeron (17 TKL, 3.0 sacks, 1 FF) Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 10 Projected conference finish: 10th (6th MAC East) Overview: Good news: There’s a surprising amount of continuity on the Falcons roster with 14 of 22 starters from 2020 returning including five pro-potential offensive players. The bad news: Last year’s team badly underperformed compared to their skill level. Coach Popadom17 should raise the Falcons’ win total just by being a coach with a pulse and if he can harness the talent on this roster, a bowl game may be in play. Position of Strength: Interior offensive line. Left guard Maximilian Pope (4.0/4.0), center Jonas Zambrano (4.0/4.0), and right guard Derrick Briggs (5.0/5.0) are the best center/guard combination in the MAC, and match up favorably against any other interior group in the country. Bowling Green gave up the second most sacks in the conference with 25, but that was more about the putrid tackle play they had last year. Position of Weakness: Outside linebacker. The Falcons have only three OLBs on the roster and two of them are true freshmen. Expect both Fr Joshua Lyles and Jr Thierno McNeal to get tested a lot by tight ends and outside zone runs. Position to Watch: Running back. Zack Odell returns as the starter after a not-great year statistically (234 rushes for 982 yards, 8 TDs, 3 Fum Lost). His style doesn’t seem to mesh well with BGSU’s strengths on the offensive line, plus there’s the fumbleitis he suffered from last year. How will coach Popadom get Odell on track this year? Coaches' Comments: With 4.0 LG, 5.0 C, and 4.0 LG, this would be a Power RB's dream offensive line. But with Zach Odell, a speed RB, might not have as great of gains due to weaker OTs. Despite solid safties, the defensive line is paltry and the LB corp not much better. Teams with good RB's could just chip away with 4 yard carries all game and win comfortably. Strengths-o-line/safety. Weaknesses-tackles/guards/olbs Still good pieces scattered here and there, but who is Eddie Connelly throwing to? Coaches' focus could be on the recruiting trail as much as it is on the field. Good OL. Not much else on Offense. Defense will be a struggle too. Odd blend of senior experience and young "talent". 5 Win Ceiling Buffalo Bulls (10-3 last year) Coach: @SodapopSeth (6th year) Returning Starters: Offense: 5 Defense: 9 Key Losses: RB Mamadou Wynn (268 rushes for 1349 yards, 16 TDs), OT Marcus Waterman, OG Edward Galloway Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 4 Projected conference finish: 6th (4th MAC East) Overview: Out with MAMADOU SMASH, in with the Fabulous One. Tough-nosed Mamadou Wynn graduates, but Denzel Porter transfers in from the highly-competitive Fashion Institute of Technology. But it’s reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Year QB Blair Holcomb that determines how the Bulls season will go. Holcomb clearly has the talent and the trust of coach SodapopSeth, but a suddenly weak offensive line may derail the Holcomb train before it leaves the station. Position of Strength: Quarterback. Senior Blair Holcomb (268 of 399 for 3532 yards, 35/7 TD/INT) is undoubtedly the best quarterback in the MAC, and the improvement in the Bulls’ offensive output since he arrived on campus is startling. With a quartet of experienced pass-catchers to throw to, Buffalo’s fortunes are riding on Holcomb’s right arm. Position of Weakness: Offensive Line. It almost feels sacrilegious to type this, but these are not the implacable Buffalo road graders of years past. Although junior center D.J. Wilkinson is ready for the pros now, centers are playing at both guard positions and both tackles really needed another year or two to develop (2.5/3.5, 1.5/3.5). How well will Holcomb do when he doesn’t have the pockets develop for him like they did last year? Position to Watch: Placekicker. With no true placekicker on the roster that any coach would feel good about, Mohamed Saylor is back for a second year of double duty. He struggled mightily on field goals converting only two-thirds of his attempts (24 of 36, long 42), and this phase of the game cost the Bulls at least two wins last year. If Saylor struggles again coach SodapopSeth’s best option after him is senior Charles Luther (2.0/2.0) who has never taken a snap in-game. Coaches' Comments: Blair Holcomb is the obvious front runner for the best QB in the MAC, but will probably be spending most of the time running for his life behind a weak o-line that lacks depth. Tough to tell how defense will fare... but there is potential for it to be surprisingly resolute. This alone should keep Buffalo firmly in the middle of the MAC. QB Holcomb and RB Porter are a potent backfield, but outside of center D.J. Wilkinson this O-line is bad. Worst kicking game in the conference Passing Team Now? OL will be downfall of Offense in games. Lack on talent on Defense. Plenty of shootouts this year. 7 win ceiling Strengths- Pass Game/Run game. Weaknesses- kicker/ lack of depth at d-line Central Michigan Chippewas (2-10 last year) Coach: @johnkirk (2nd year) Returning Starters: Offense: 4 Defense: 8 Key Losses: CB A’Shawn Ellison (20 TKL, 6 INT, 1 TD) Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 9 Projected conference finish: 7th (3rd MAC West) Overview: 2020 was always a bridge year for the Chips, as Matt Rowland kept the QB seat warm until phenom Byron Suggs was ready. Now Suggs is ready to show that the hype is justified. Position of Strength: Passing game. It helps that Suggs has a pair of big targets to throw to. Junior TE Jasper Rowley (37 rec for 465 yards, 6 TDs) is the reliable safety valve over the middle who has raised his game every year, and redshirt freshman Joseph Aikman is a HUGE (6’5” 227) target that will make life difficult for opposing CBs - especially when they could giving up as many as nine inches in height differential. Position of Weakness: Offensive Line. However, Central can’t be as confident in their front five to keep all their shiny weapons safe. This was the worst performing unit in the MAC last year (4.07 rating, 21 sacks allowed), and only senior LT Victor Reaves (3.5/3.5) qualifies as someone most coaches would be okay starting. Everyone else either needs another year or is “okay.” “Okay” and “needs another year” probably won’t fare well against the Marlon Baileys and Donte Pennels of the world. Position to Watch: Front seven. Even with bookend DEs Nazir Tatum-Kimbrough (17 TKL, 1.0 sack) and Rory Bolin (24 TKL, 4.0 sacks, 2 FF) back for yet ANOTHER year*, this unit failed to get any significant pressure on the QB last season with only eight sacks. They return virtually the same players, but with no one starting specializes in getting to the QB and the ROLB spot again manned by an ILB it’s hard to see a dramatic improvement in this area. Coaches' Comments: Most exciting freshman in conference (Byron Suggs). Could score a ton. Average Defense. 9 Win ceiling Strengths- Great passing game/o-line. Weaknesses- Cbs/inconsistent starters. NOT going to be fun dealing with Byron Suggs and Joseph Aikman for the next few years. LBs and O-line hold them back from making serious waves. The pieces of an offense are coming into place. But youth and large losses on defense will be the story. Should be better than last year, but another year away. Eastern Michigan Eagles (4-8 last year) Coach: @DrFootball (1st year) Returning Starters: Offense: 9 Defense: 7 Key Losses: RB Jamel Jamison (256 rushes for 1086 yards, 10 TDs), DT Shane Horton (29 TKL, 6 sacks, 1 FF), FS Zachary Dumas (8 TKL) Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 8 Projected conference finish: 11th (5th MAC West) Overview: The Eagles boast 16 returning starters including 3-year starter Giovanni Shaw so the experience is there. But the RB situation is certainly not experienced, and even with all the continuity this looks like an average roster at best. Position of Strength: Quarterback. Giovanni Shaw’s stats last year were not good (174 of 302 for 2059 yards, 9/19 TD/INT, 51 rushes for 380 yards, 3 TDs) but he and graduated RB Jamel Jamison had absolutely no help from an O-line that produced a 4.41 rating and 19 sacks allowed. Now they have a line that on paper looks competent (if not inspiring), and having an actual fullback in JuCo transfer E.J. Greer play the position will help in the run and pass game. Shaw has long been thought of as better than his stats indicate, he might get a chance to show it this year. Position of Weakness: Secondary. FS Zachary Dumas didn’t put up many numbers last year, but his graduation leaves the back four as all 3.0/3.0 Man coverage personnel. This group is probably going to get tested a lot. Position to Watch: Linebackers. New coach DrFootball has moved to a 3-4 scheme to accommodate his best player in ILB Julian Rinehart (4.0/4.0) and incoming JuCo ILB Mosi Gary (3.5/4.0). Along with OLBs Brayden Winters and Brian Pearson, this group will probably get leaned on to provide most of the defensive activity for EMU especially with Eagle legend Shane Horton no longer blowing things up inside. Coaches' Comments: Giovanni Shaw is a favorite QB of mine that isn't my own. However, A poor running back crew really holds back this offensive potential of this offense. One of the stoutest interior D's but has issues in the secondary. There are a lot of good QB's in the MAC this year to let that go. No real Cohesion on Offense. Defense is kinda average. 5 win ceiling Strengths- Decent pass game/d-line/lbs. Weaknesses- Hard team to coach since they all have different preferences on how they play the game the best. Giovanni Shaw can't do it by himself (stud RB Tyler Pearson isn't ready yet) but he may have to. Kent State Golden Flashes (6-7 last year) Coach: @TazerMan (2nd year) Returning Starters: Offense: 6 Defense: 4 Key Losses: WR Thaddeus Torrez (43 rec for 540 yards, 7 TDs), WR Iye Parris (46 rec for 628 yards, 4 TDs), WR Cayden Sampson (30 rec for 369 yards, 1 TD), CB Richard Roberts (19 TKL, 6 INT), SS Quinn Benson (20 TKL, 2 INT, 1 TD) Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 7 Projected conference finish: 9th (5th MAC East) Overview: Another team feeling the sting of coachless years past, Kent State has to take a mulligan on building off of their inspiring bowl season. They are getting much better but a lack of ready depth to replace the 12 lost starters means it probably won’t show on the field this year. Position of Strength: Quarterback. Senior John Garland (238 of 391 for 2749 yards, 19/15 TD/INT, 59 rushes for 441 yards, 7 TDs) often feels like a member of House Greyjoy: “What is dead may never die.” He’s been beaten and battered ever since stepping foot on campus, and yet here he is. He isn’t the most talented player on the roster, but coach TazerMan had him playing better than you’d expect last year. Garland is going to need to do the same this year. Position of Weakness: Cornerbacks. No one in the two-deeps at this group has potential higher than 2.5. Even with support from JuCo SS Steven Gordon, the CBs are going to get picked on early and often. Position to Watch: Wide Receiver. Kent State’s top four receivers all graduated so this position is extremely thin. With the #2 WR a 2.0/3.0 true freshman and the slot receiver a 1.0/3.5 true freshman, it makes us wonder if the Golden Flashes will move to a 2-TE base set to compensate. Coaches' Comments: Scoring won't be easy. Stopping people from scoring won't be easy either. 3 win ceiling The coachless teams of years past catch up to Kent this season. If TazerMan can get this team anywhere near a bowl berth he's a miracle worker. 2022 on looks much better. Could be a difficult year for Kent State. The only thing that could be consider a standout playmaker for them is SS Steven Gordon, a 3.5/4.5 JUCO transfer. An impressive class of redshirts waiting in the wings should make them feel better for the future. Strengths- Decent D-line/ beating akron. Weaknesses- Everyone else is on the redshirt. Miami (OH) Redhawks (8-5 last year) Coach: @caesari (3rd year) Returning Starters: Offense: 9 Defense: 8 Key Losses: WR Melvin Grubbs (41 rec for 396 yards, 4 TDs), DE Jabari Hilliard (27 TKL, 4.0 sacks), CB Shamar McClendon (17 TKL, 3 INT, 1 TD) Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 6 Projected conference finish: 4th (2nd MAC East) Overview: With an unreal 17 of 22 starters coming back, there is a lot of hype and expectations surrounding the Redhawks. Miami is the primary challenger for Ohio’s MAC East crown, and the success of that challenge is primarily going to depend on their ability to cover their one or two weak points. Position of Strength: Passing game. We know that aerial fireworks comes to town along with Zack Cera and the Redhawks. Not many teams have been able to stop them. Cera (340 of 570 for 3745 yards, 36/11 TD/INT, 1 Fum lost) has another year of experience under his belt and all his primary weapons return - the lone graduate from the receiving corps was their #3 WR. With WR Kenneth Harrison (74 rec for 787 yards, 11 TDs) on the outside and Mackey winner Casey Swann down the middle (79 rec for 1038, 14 TDs), defenses are going to have a hard time deciding where to focus their efforts. Position of Weakness: Cornerback. Your #1 CB as a 3.0/3.0 (Jr Travis Watson) won’t inspire much confidence from the fans, but coach caesari was forced to double down and put talented but raw (1.0/4.0) CB Jeremiah Christy in the fire right away opposite Watson. Miami has a very good safety duo to back them up in FS Nicholas Mingo (30 TKL, 6 INT) and Ian Huntley (18 TKL, 3 INT), but the CBs and Christy in particular will be tested a lot. Position to Watch: Running Back. As in is it worth watching to see Miami’s running game? Redshirt junior Ajani Garrett (163 rushes for 700 yards, 8 TDs) isn’t a bad RB by any means, but his carries seemed to be of the 1/2-yard TD plunge variety or else just to keep defenses honest. Coaches' Comments: Strengths-Great passing game. Weaknesses-cbs Cera will destroy MAC (again). Solid OL. Defense is kinda meh. 10 win ceiling It's all on Zack Cera again, but an improved O-line should keep him upright better than last year. Inexperienced CBs might mean a lot of their victories are "last score wins" Pray that our good lord and savior protect Miami from injuries. A lack of depth at WR, CB and RB is concerning, but should they stay healthy, I'd be surprised if they don't have the best offense in the MAC. Defense while not quite as all around amazing is still quite formidable. Northern Illinois Huskies (2-10 last year) Coach: @subsequent (2nd year) Returning Starters: Offense: 6 Defense: 6 Key Losses: RB Daniel Hutchins (292 carries for 1519 yards, 14 TDs), TE Emory Johnson (49 rec for 680 yards, 6 TDs), DT Russel Brandt (18 TKL, 2.0 sacks) Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 11 Projected conference finish: 12th (6th MAC West) Overview: Once the class of the MAC, several years of inattention are finally catching up to the Huskies. There are still talented players on this roster but zero depth, making an injury in the wrong spot devastating. Position of Strength: Quarterback. Junior Charlie Sanford again gets his chance at the head of the NIU QB Carousel. But without the likes of NFLers Daniel Hutchins and Emory Johnson it’s on Sanford’s shoulders to make plays for the Huskie offense; his skill players are talented but unproven - out of his entire WR and TE groups only WR Nathaniel Alford has any in-game experience, and that was just 5 catches for 58 yards in 2020. Position of Weakness: Defensive End. Brand new starters Miles Beasley (3.0/3.0) and Cristopher Carmona (2.0/3.5) won’t scare many tackles coming off the edge. Look for MAC tackles to be on islands while DT Thierno Thomas commands the double-teams until either Beasley or Carmona show they deserve respect. Position to Watch: Cornerback. Juniors Samuel Echols and Alpha Mitchell are a good CB tandem, but their nickel back is a (1.5/2.5) true freshman and they have no other CBs on the roster. Will teams be tempted to go 3 and 4-wide to exploit that? Coaches' Comments: 3 WR's and 3 CB's would put me in a panic, but a pretty capable roster is on the table here. I think we will be dreading facing Oliver McNeal for a long time, both CFB and NFL. They'd be much higher if I knew the coach would be capable. This year's NIU is shorter on talent than years past, but should be better with a steady coach. Strengths-lb/dt. Weaknesses- serious lack of depth on offense especially o-line/wr Offense could keep things interesting. Who starts at QB? Defense OK. 4 Win ceiling Ohio Bobcats (9-5 last year) Coach: @Chad_Michael (1st year) Returning Starters: Offense: 6 Defense: 7 Key Losses: RB Owen Walton (310 rushes for 1616 yards, 19 TDs), OG Jayden Grove, FS Robert Mahoney (34 TKL, 5 INT, 1 TD) Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 2 Projected conference finish: 3rd (1st MAC East) Overview: The MAC East winner the last two years, Ohio looks ready to make another run at the division. With stud Jeffrey Flowers ready to take over for Owen Walton and the best linebacking corps in the conference, the Bobcats certainly have the tools to go as far as their new coach can take them. Position of Strength: Linebackers. With as much talent as Ohio has at this position, it makes a world of sense to put them in a 3-4 alignment. Senior Mike LB Calvin Blue (40 TKL, 2 INT, 0.5 sacks) is the heart and soul of their defense and directs traffic for outside linebackers Donovan Pendleton (22 TKL, 3.0 sacks) and Myles Lindsay (50 TKL, 1 FR). Position of Weakness: Offensive line. Specifically the right side where two new starters are playing in 2.5/2.5 So OG Ethan Felder and 3.0/3.0 Sr Devin Golden. They’re not the worst G/T combo in the conference, but defensive coordinators will likely be looking to overwhelm the duo in order to get to the backfield. Position to Watch: Quarterback. 4.0/4.0. This is new QB Austin Lowe’s rating as a redshirt freshman. Lowe stepped onto the campus in Athens with much fanfare and expectations he’d start from day one, but then-coach @beeznik redshirted him in favor of then-struggling QB Stephen Peters. The gamble paid off as Peters had the best season of his career, but it is clearly Lowe’s time to shine in a packed MAC East. No pressure, kid. Coaches' Comments: Strength- Run game, receivers. Weakness- O-line, secondary Still a very solid team. Potent offense, but new coaching and a weakened secondary would put them just a hair below from last years prestige, but very much not a team to sleep on. Bobcats have the talent to be fighting for the MAC East again, most consistent team in the division. Right side of OL only weakness on Offense. Safeties big weakness on defense. 9 win ceiling. Toledo Rockets (8-5 last year) Coach: @deathcpo (6th year) Returning Starters: Offense: 6 Defense: 9 Key Losses: QB Benjamin Hanson (249 of 358 for 3213 yards, 28/6 TD/INT), WR Thomas Yang (57 rec for 851 yards, 9 TDs), DT Dwayne Montgomery (32 TKL, 2.5 sacks) Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 5 Projected conference finish: 1st (1st MAC West) Overview: IT’S HERE, THE PROMISED TIME IS UPON US. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, you’ve all looked forward to it for so long. Now it is… #TOLEDO2021 But in all seriousness, this is on paper the best team in the MAC and the best team coach deathcpo has probably ever had. Now it’s just a matter of turning that paper talent into on-field results. Position of Strength: Defensive line. The Rockets lose two starters to graduation (one to the NFL), and they get better? Okay, sure. Check this line out: DE Dwayne Briggs 6-1 251 (Jr) Germantown (Germantown, WI) 4.5 of 4.5 [Contain] (38 TKL, 7.5 sacks) DT De'Shawn Beckwith 6-3 285 Jr Northfield (Northfield, MN) 4.5 of 4.5 [1-Gap] DT Damian Larkin 6-2 287 (So) Lompoc (Lompoc, CA) 4.0 of 5.0 [2-Gap] DE Ezekiel Williams Jr. 6-1 265 Jr Southwestern Community College (Creston, IA) 4.0 of 4.5 [Blitz] (But really, we could choose almost any group on the field) Position of Weakness: Placekicking. 5-star redshirt freshman Sam Painter is promising but untested. Their long snapper is a 3-star tight end. Shaky special teams have cost many games over the years, could it derail Toledo’s hype train? Position to Watch: Offensive line. It’s a group any other coach in the MAC would love to have, but there is a lot of inexperience and untapped promise here. New QB Michael Thompson will need his big men to play to their potential and not their floors. Coaches' Comments: All-in this year, this team is obviously built to win NOW. A key injury could make everything fall apart though, very little depth. #Toledo2021 Not sold on #Toledo2021 (but I might get a shirt for Toledo 2022, a lot of their starters return). A few low rated - high potential guys might make the difference for Toledo. Probably best Offense in MAC (untested QB though). Very experienced & talented on Defense. 12 win ceiling Strength-Star players. Weakness- Inconsistent star players. Western Michigan Broncos (12-2 last year) Coach: Jieret (3rd year) Returning Starters: Offense: 7 Defense: 6 Key Losses: FB Marquise McQueen, DE Michael McKinney (28 TKL, 7.5 sacks, 1 FF), ILB Kareem Boykin (46 TKL, 3 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR), CB Sean Taylor (19 TKL, 5 INT, 1 TD) Last Year's Power Ranking finish: 1 Projected conference finish: 2nd (2nd MAC West) Overview: Fresh off a CFB playoff appearance, the Broncos sport an improved offense. But the early declarations of Western’s two best defensive players will make it difficult to defend their conference title, let alone make it the top eight again. Position of Strength: Running back. It’s year two of the DeSean Madison era and opposing MAC coaches are already tired of facing him. The redshirt sophomore is fresh off a 1600-yard, 21 TD campaign and looks to break New York Jets legend Emmanuel Fields’ school record of 3480 career rushing yards. Position of Weakness: Linebacker. Outside linebacker was already set to take a hit with no one on the depth chart ready to replace Shia Kenney, so the job goes to blue-chip prospect Christian Reese (1.0/5.0). But Reese’s security blanket was lost with Boykin’s early declaration, so he is going to have to learn on a VERY steep curve. The other LBs (3-stars Walter McGregor and Eric Holbrook) can hold their own but aren’t players to fear. Position to Watch: Defensive line. DTs redshirt sophomore Silas Booker (21 TKL, 4.0 sacks, 1 FR) and redshirt junior Rocco Gifford (23 TKL, 3.0 sacks, 1 FR) were sneaky-good last season, mostly because the attention was on the Broncos secondary. But with the secondary and linebacker groups taking steps backwards, these two plus redshirt freshman Victor Roberson will have to pick up the defensive slack. Coaches' Comments: Can DeSean Madison transfer pls? Defense is OK, nothing special. 11 win ceiling Strength-Secondary. Weakness- o-line can be inconsistent When the only negative thing I can come up with is something along the lines of "the receiving corp is good not great", that usually rockets a team to the top. Not an easy road to a repeat with many teams improving, but my pick to win it all again. Better offense, much worse defense. Can DeSean Madison and Chase Sims score enough to make up for losing Sean Taylor and Kareem Boykin?
  8. Just came across this brand POWER RANKING whichreveals how you can turn a tiny investment of5 minutes into CHARTS OF DUBIOUS VALUE. You Are Receiving This POST Becuase you Opted In At Our Website Let's facelift bar! MAC or Non-MAC coach, it doesn't matter; Please send in your rankings to me by Saturday midnight EST. For your convenience, how the fared during bowl season: MAC Results After Bowl Season Rank Team, Result Final Record (Conf. Record) Streak 1 Western Michigan Broncos LOST NCG Quarterfinals vs 23-24. 12-2 (8-0) L1 2 Akron Zips LOST Miami Beach Bowl vs. Temple 13-9 9-4 (6-2) L1 3 Ohio Bobcats WON Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Boise St. 42-17 9-5 (7-1) W1 4 Toledo Rockets LOST Bahamas Bowl vs. Arizona St. 20-23 8-5 (5-3) L2 4 Buffalo Bulls WON Detroit Bowl vs. Maryland 31-28 10-3 (5-3) W4 6 Kent State Golden Flashes LOST vs. Utah State 23-27 6-7 (5-3) L1 7 Miami (OH) Redhawks WON vs. N. Texas 34-6 8-5 (4-4) W1 8 Eastern Michigan Eagles - No Game 4-8 (3-5) L1 9 Central Michigan Chippewas - No Game 2-10 (2-6) L5 10 Bowling Green Falcons - No Game 2-10 (1-7) W1 11 Northern Illinois Huskies - No Game 2-10 (1-7) L1 12 Ball State Cardinals - No Game 1-11 (1-7) L8
  9. As promised, we have a breakdown of each MAC class with input from Commissioner and Playoff coach, Jieret! There is a fair bit of speculation evolved, as we still don't have transfers, and most coaches will still be experimenting during the off season, but we can give you our thoughts on how these recruiting classes look initially, and how we think they will impact immediately and further down the road. Committed Recruits (by potential) Total Recruits (all *) Team 2.5-Star 3-Star 3.5-Star 4-Star 4.5-Star 5-Star Croot Total Tot. Stars Avg. Stars 11 Buffalo 3 1 4 2 1 0 11 37 3.36 26 Kent State 5 7 8 3 2 0 25 84.5 3.25 14 Miami (OH) 2 4 1 4 0 1 12 45 3.21 15 Ball State 1 4 6 1 1 2 13 48 3.2 20 Akron 4 5 7 1 1 1 19 64 3.2 25 Eastern Michigan 6 8 6 2 1 1 24 79.5 3.18 22 Western Michigan 2 6 6 2 1 1 18 69.5 3.16 15 Ohio 1 5 3 1 1 1 12 46.5 3.1 21 Central Michigan 2 9 4 2 1 0 18 64.5 3.07 26 Bowling Green 10 13 0 1 0 0 24 71.5 2.75 29 Toledo 23 2 0 0 2 1 28 79 2.72 16 Northern Illinois 4 4 1 1 1 0 11 43.5 2.72 Class Rankings (* denotes JuCo): 1. Ohio (3.1 avg, 15 total recruits, 12 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: DE Nicholas Blackwell 6-3 249 Fr Godby (Tallahassee FL) 1.0 of 5.0 [Contain], WR Jordan Barnes 6-0 223 Fr Ada (Ada OH) 1.5 of 4.5 [Target], CB Cooper Rainey 5-10 203 Fr Hales Franciscan (Chicago IL) 1.0 of 4.0 [Man Coverage], CB Savion Willingham 6-0 169 Fr Triway (Wooster OH) 2.5 of 3.5 [Man Coverage], OG Amosa Neru 6-4 274 Fr Fort Lauderdale (Fort Lauderdale FL) 1.5 of 3.5 [Run Blocking] The Bobcats landed a good mix of upside at multiple positions, headed by Blackwell who committed from sunny Florida, and Barnes from Ohio providing another offensive weapon for an increasingly scary offense. Ohio is steadily continuing to raise their talent level and addressing holes in their roster, and coach beeznik continues to accumulate talented playmakers to continue improving one of the best programs in the MAC. Jieret likes: Cornerbacks. With only two actual CBs on the roster, beeznik did well to get an immediate starter in Willingham and a long-term solution in Rainey to pair with Shawn Tillman. Jieret wonders about: Linebackers. Of the 11 linebackers on Ohio’s roster, all but 3 are either graduated or will graduate after the 2021 season. Redshirting will slow the attrition, but I expected to see another LB or two join incoming 3-star Adriel Frias. 2. Kent State (3.25 avg, 26 total recruits, 25 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: SS Steven Gordon 6-1 213 Jr CCBC-Essex (Essex, MD) 3.5 of 4.5 [Man Coverage]*, DE Geno Mason 6-2 267 Fr River Valley (Cheshire OH) 1.0 of 4.5 [Contain]. QB Cameron Hare 6-3 238 Fr Pampa (Pampa TX) 1.0 of 4.0 [Hybrid], RB C.J. Williams 5-7 214 Fr Brookhaven (Columbus OH) 1.0 of 4.0 [Power], ILB Cooper Merritt 6-3 226 Fr St. Joseph (Brownsville TX) 1.0 of 4.0 [Mike] One of the biggest classes in the MAC has surprisingly very little filler, with only one player below 2.5 potential. This group does a very good job of raising the talent floor while filling in the majority of upcoming roster holes. John Garland and Harrison Mullin can't stay at Kent State forever so Hare and Williams will be ready to take over when they finally depart. On the defensive side, Mason and Gordon are the highest profile recruits they've had in some time, and Merritt will be a key contributor in the future. Jieret likes: Overall balance. With 10 of their 3.0+ potential recruits hailing from outside the MAC footprint, Kent State capitalized on going after overlooked prospects from prospect-rich states and bringing them into the fold. This helped to fill in the holes inconsistent coaching left on this squad. Jieret wonders about: Wide Receiver. The Golden Flashes' top four wideouts all graduate, which means that both incoming WRs Will Westfall (2.0/3.0) and Ashton Hannah (1.0/3.5) expect to see significant playing time. Kent State could have used another body or two here, and I expect this will be a priority position for TazerMan to fill next cycle. 3. Western Michigan (3.16 avg, 22 total recruits, 18 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: OLB Christian Reese 6-0 219 Fr Port St. Lucie (Port St. Lucie FL) 1.0 of 5.0 [Coverage], CB Miles Bradford 5-9 171 Fr Pacelli (Stevens Point WI) 2.0 of 4.0 [Man Coverage], DE Kayden Soriano 6-6 271 Fr Glen Lake (Maple City MI) 1.0 of 4.5 [Blitz], QB Misu Curtis 5-11 188 Fr Holland Christian (Holland MI) 1.5 of 4.0 [Hybrid], P Tony Post 6-0 184 Fr Holy Cross (River Grove IL) 3.0 of 3.5 [Accuracy] The focus this cycle for the Broncos was on defense - 13 of the 22 players play on that side of the ball. That doesn’t mean the offense was neglected though; Curtis is the heir apparent to Chase Sims. Normally when I talk about special team players in key positions, it means the class was in trouble. But Post will step in and contribute right away for the graduating Leo Coy. Picking up Bradford helps to alleviate the loss of Sean Taylor a bit, but he will still be sorely missed by Jieret, and only Jieret. Jieret likes: Continuity. I believe that you recruit for the roster two years from now, and this class should be in good shape to take over for next year’s starters when they graduate. Jieret wonders about: Christian Reese’s readiness. P Post and CB Bradford were expected to see immediate playing time from day one, but the failure to secure a more polished outside linebacker means the 5-star from Port St. Lucie may man a starting position as well. 4. Miami (OH) (3.21 avg, 14 total recruits, 12 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: OT Felix Mccormick 6-3 260 Fr Edgewood (Ashtabula OH) 1.0 of 4.0 [Pass Blocking], OG Matthew Waldron 6-2 302 Fr Springfield (Holland OH) 1.5 of 4.0 [Pass Blocking], ILB Kayden Shaw 5-11 239 Fr Indian Lake (Lewistown OH) 1.0 of 4.0 [Will], CB Jeremiah Christy 5-11 191 Fr Central Catholic (Pittsburgh PA) 1.0 of 4.0 [Man Coverage], SS Matthew Arnett 6-0 186 Fr Eastmoor Academy (Columbus OH) 1.0 of 3.5 [Zone Coverage] Another class on the small side, but one with a lot of quality. It looked like the Redhawks focused on certain positions, as the 14 recruits include 2 TEs, 3 OL, 2 ILBs, and 4 CBs. Miami definitely wants to not get caught short on the CB position! The Redhawks picked up some quality players in this class, but the lack of depth might show up in a few years. Jieret likes: Offensive Line. A strong passing game needs a strong pocket, and coach caesari knows how important it is to keep his QB upright. Mccormick and Waldron will be ready to play by the time the current starters graduate. Jieret wonders about: Wide Receiver. Considering the offense the Redhawks like to run, I'm really surprised that there were no wideouts in this class. They have one coming off a redshirt, but with all of Miami's wideouts graduating after 2022 having capable replacements in place needs to start now. 5. Eastern Michigan (3.18 avg, 25 total recruits, 24 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: RB Tyler Pearson 6-0 226 Fr Sterling (Sterling IL) 1.5 of 5.0 [Power], FB Ned Hansen 5-9 245 Fr Holland Christian (Holland MI) 2.5 of 4.0 [Pass Blocking], FB E.J. Greer 6-1 249 Jr Little Big Horn College (Crow Agency, MT) 3.5 of 4.5 [Pass Blocking]*, ILB Mosi Gary 6-3 236 Jr Wayne County Community College (Detroit, MI) 3.5 of 4.0 [Will]*, OT Keith McNeil 6-3 286 Fr Manistee (Manistee MI) 1.0 of 3.5 [Pass Blocking] This is one of my favorite classes in the MAC simply because coach Jamzz recruited with his identity in mind. Bringing in a powerful 5-star stud like Pearson and excellent lead blocker such as Ned Hansen reinforces the tough-running game the Eagles want to perfect, and picking up an even better FB in JuCo doesn't hurt. Also with Gary's addition EMU has approximately 3409821 inside linebackers. If only the 2-5 defense was a thing in CFBHC. Jieret likes: Backfield. Look at Pearson/Hansen/Greer. Look at them. Then look at the scuffling Eagle run game this season with a backup TE as the fullback. If only the Wishbone was a thing in CFBHC. Jieret wonders about: Offensive Line. Is this the new "every MAC team needs a corner?" EMU had a 4.41 O-line rating last year, which is definitely not what you want when you want to be a heavy running team. McNeil will help in time but quality is needed here, not depth. 6. Central Michigan (3.07 avg, 21 total recruits, 18 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: RB Daveed Huff 5-10 186 Fr G.A. Dondero (Royal Oak MI) 1.0 of 4.5 [Speed], TE Shia Houser 6-1 230 Fr Bentley (Burton MI) 1.0 of 4.0 [Blocking], OLB Bradley Lloyd 6-3 232 Fr Flushing (Flushing MI) 1.0 of 4.0 [Coverage], OLB Jalen Kemp 6-0 244 Fr Flushing (Flushing MI) 2.0 of 3.0 [Coverage], CB Bill Haas 6-2 180 Fr Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort IL) 1.0 of 3.5 [Zone Coverage] The Chippewas focused on playmakers on both sides of the ball, sprinkling them in amongst depth across the board, and taking Lloyd from Michigan should build confidence in the recruiting potential of the Chipps. The offense in particular looks like it could something to behold in a couple of years with a 5.0 QB, 4.5 RB, 4.0 FB, 4.0 WR and 4.5 TE. Scary stuff. Jieret likes: Offensive skill positions. With Huff, Houser, and 2.0/3.5 WR Dontae Peppers in the fold, coach johnkirk is giving his prized QB Byron Suggs plenty of weapons over the next few years. Jieret wonders about: Offensive Line. CMU has some good freshman ready to step into starting roles, but the center and tackle positions could have used a talent upgrade and not just depth. 7. Buffalo (3.36 avg, 11 total recruits, 11 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: RB Denzel Porter 5-9 210 Jr Fashion Institute of Technology (New York City, NY) 3.5 of 4.0 [Power], SS Dominique Waller 5-11 191 Fr DePaul Catholic (Wayne NJ) 2.0 of 4.5 [Man Coverage], ILB Leo Rincon 5-11 220 Fr Harrison (Harrison NJ) 1.0 of 4.0 [Will], OG Daniel Bridges 6-3 307 Fr Harrison (Harrison NJ) 1.0 of 3.5 [Run Blocking] The smallest class in the MAC is pretty high-quality for its size. Buffalo gets a bridge to redshirt freshman RB Alec Self in Denzel Porter, and Waller will be a force once he takes over for Thomas Gordon. They also managed to sign 7 defenders of 11 total, the offense might not be as deep in years to come. Jieret likes: RB. Buffalo must always have a strong run game, it is known. The Fabulous One will ensure there is very little dropoff in quality after MAMADOU SMASH graduates. Jieret wonders about: The size. I don't know why Buffalo gets such small classes, but there were a lot of roster spots that could have been addressed but weren't (CB, K, DE). The lack of fresh bodies is exacerbated when you realize that three of the eleven recruits are OLB - two is fine, but they didn't need all three. 8. Akron (3.2 avg, 20 total recruits, 19 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: ILB Devin Frazier 6-1 257 Jr Lakeland Community College (Kirtland, OH) 4.5 of 5.0 [Mike]*, RB Bryan Ellison 5-11 221 Fr Cumberland Valley (Mechanicsburg PA) 1.0 of 4.5 [Power], RB Shontrell Driver 5-6 212 Fr Troy (Troy OH) 2.0 of 4.0 [Power], CB Jason Holguin 5-11 177 Fr Blanchester (Blanchester OH) 1.0 of 3.5 [Zone Coverage], CB Marc Dumas 5-9 182 Fr Jackson (Masillon OH) 1.0 of 3.5 [Man Coverage] Much will be expected out of JuCo MLB Frazier, who will combine with Marlon Bailey to make a scary pairing in the middle of the Zip defense and coach darkage worked to upgrade the talent at CB. CBs Holguin and Dumas need redshirts though, so expect to see more FS getting converted next year. Jieret likes: RB. Neither Ellison nor Driver need to play this year, this will give Akron a nice multi-headed monster to work with after Nathaniel Ruff graduates. Jieret wonders about: DE. The Zips are VERY thin at DE with defensive tackles currently occupying the backup spots, and both starters entering their senior years. They did recruit 3-star Carlos Edmonds, but they desperately needed more bodies to fill out the 2-deeps. 9. Ball State (3.2 avg, 15 total recruits, 13 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: ILB Gregory Wilkins 5-11 241 Fr Amelia (Batavia OH) 1.0 of 4.5 [Will], CB Aaron Edmonds 6-2 166 Fr Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort IL) 1.0 of 3.5 [Zone Coverage], DE Julian Tate 6-3 235 Fr Briggs (Colombus OH) 2.0 of 3.5 [Contain], QB Andre Grubbs 5-10 238 Fr Godby (Tallahassee FL) 1.0 of 3.5 [Pocket], OLB Frank Long 6-0 221 Fr Vernon (Vernon FL) 2.5 of 3.0 [Coverage] A decent mix of talent across the board. Ball State got the near-mandatory CB recruit and a QB to step in when Causey/Carter's time is done. But two more SS recruits when you have 4-star redshirt freshman DeAndre Simms? That time probably could have been better spent looking for line help. They also signed specialists at kick and punt returner, so new coach npklemm can expect to win some more field position battles. Jieret likes: Linebacker. Top recruit Wilkins has a year to redshirt and bulk up for college play. Almost no else outside of Muncie is excited about OLB Long, but I like him for Ball State. He will step into a starting position from day one. Jieret wonders about: Offensive line. OG Elisara Mataafa is their only recruit for this group. As a 3.5 potential player, that ties him for second-highest amongst all Cardinal offensive linemen. Ball State needs higher-quality beef on the lines to protect whoever will be playing under center in 2021 and beyond. 10. Bowling Green (2.75 avg, 26 total recruits, 24 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: QB A.J. Coyne 6-3 203 Fr South (Cleveland OH) 1.0 of 4.0 [Pocket], DT Matt Hamm 6-4 305 Fr Eunice (Eunice LA) 2.0 of 3.0 [2-Gap], DT Phillip Woodruff 6-1 320 Fr Emma Sansom (Gadsden AL) 2.0 of 3.0 [2-Gap], OLB Joshua Lyles 6-1 223 Fr Jesuit (Tampa FL) 1.5 of 3.0 [Coverage], OLB Denzel Ventura 5-11 232 Fr Edgewood (Ashtabula OH) 1.0 of 3.0 [Blitz] The Falcons get a lot of bodies for depth, but the few starter-quality recruits they did land may have to play much sooner than Bowling Green would like. With holes is lots of places, coach Popadom17 has some hard decisions to make in planning for next year's recruiting cycle. Jieret likes: QB. Star recruit (and the only recruit above 3-star quality) A.J. Coyne gets to learn behind Eddie Connelly for a year before being handed the reins. He should keep the QB position steady for three-four good years. Jieret wonders about: OLB. With Brandon Thomas leaving for the NFL, the Falcons only have ONE true outside linebacker on the roster. OLB Joshua Lyles may be introduced to the college game much sooner than he should be. 11. Toledo (2.72 avg, 29 total recruits, 28 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: OT Isaac Decker 6-3 286 Fr Central Community (Breese IL) 2.0 of 5.0 [Run Blocking], OG Brett Spangler 6-5 291 (Jr) Grossmont College (El Cajon, CA) 3.5 of 4.5 [Run Blocking]*, DE Ezekiel Williams Jr. 6-1 265 Jr Southwestern Community College (Creston, IA) 4.0 of 4.5 [Blitz]*, WR Joshua Hoskins 6-5 231 Fr Girard (Girard OH) 1.0 of 3.0 [Target], OT Amir Qualls 6-1 290 Fr Greenville (Greenville GA) 1.0 of 3.0 [Run Blocking] Hoo boy, this is not a good class. Clearly looking to the short-term, the Rockets tried to go after various big fish across the country and got rebuffed repeatedly. They did not sign a recruit until week 10, and it wasn’t until JuCo that Toledo got a second recruit with potential higher than 3.0. #Toledo2021 is still in play, but what about Toledo 2023 and 2024? Despite the lack of depth, the three big players helped to build up the weakest parts of this Rocket roster: Offensive and defensive line. Jieret likes: JuCo results. Spangler and Williams probably fill the biggest immediate needs the Rockets have; Toledo will be stacked on both sides of the line. Jieret wonders about: What happens after 2021? The offensive line will be in great shape, but there will be a LOT of turnover after next season. With an incredible 24 of 29 recruits at 2.5 potential or less, it’s hard to see Toledo’s window extending past the next couple of seasons. 12. Northern Illinois (2.72 avg, 16 total recruits, 11 2.5+ recruits). Key Recruits: ATH Faresa Lealofi 6-1 283 Fr Bishop Dwenger (Fort Wayne IN) 1.0 of 4.5 [Pass Blocking], QB Emmett Mast 5-11 199 Jr North Iowa Area Community College (Mason City, IA) 3.0 of 4.0 [Hybrid], WR Gabriel Davidson 6-1 189 Fr Munroe Day (Quincy FL) 1.5 of 3.0 [Speed] Not a good class. Not a good class at all. Former coach Noobie lived up to his name, recruiting without a plan or purpose. Out of their 16 incoming players, an alarming 9 are 2.5 potential or less, indicating a lot of walk-ons. That kind of inactivity is hard to do anything about. That won’t impact them too much this year, but it definitely damages what could have been a very good 2023 roster. Emmett Mast gives another option at the revolving door that was the Huskies Quarterback position. Jieret likes: That they got their star recruit? At least they got a WR since they only have one returning starter (who was their WR4)? Jieret wonders about: How a coach with a pulse can recruit at NIU. The previous coach did very little and by the time coach subsequent came on board, there was almost nothing to salvage.
  10. Last week: Kent makes a bowl! Akron demolishes Ohio! Western keeps the Michigan MAC trophy in Kalamazoo And now, the charts of dubious value! (Remember, you should probably vote if you don't like your ranking. And play well. That too.) MAC Power Rankings After Week 16 (End of Regular Season) Rank (Poll Pts.) Team (First Place Votes) Record (Conf. Record) Streak Change from Last Week 1 (48) Western Michigan Broncos (4) 11-1 (8-0) W10 - 2 (43) Akron Zips 9-3 (6-2) W2 +1 3 (41) Ohio Bobcats 8-4 (6-1) L1 -1 4 (35) Toledo Rockets 8-4 (5-3) L1 - 5 (33) Buffalo Bulls 9-3 (5-3) W3 -1 6 (27) Kent State Golden Flashes 6-6 (5-3) W2 +1 7 (25) Miami (OH) Redhawks 7-5 (4-4) L2 -1 8 (19) Eastern Michigan Eagles 4-8 (3-5) L1 - 9 (17) Central Michigan Chippewas 2-10 (2-6) L5 - tie-10 (10) Bowling Green Falcons 2-10 (1-7) W1 - tie-10 (10) Northern Illinois Huskies 2-10 (1-7) L1 +1 12 (4) Ball State Cardinals 1-11 (1-7) L8 - Number of voters: 4 (still not a record) 12 points awarded for first, 11 for second, etc. Let's start with the two biggest stories from last week. Kent State makes seven! For only the second time in MAC history, more than half the teams in Everybody's Favorite Conference are bowl eligible with the Golden Flashes' victory over Central Michigan. (The first time was in 2018, also seven teams if you were wondering). Compound that with their win last week over Best!Miami and Kent State finally breaks into the upper half of the Power Rankings. Well done, gentlemen, well done. There wasn't anything on the line in the Akron-Ohio game. Nothing except pride, momentum, and the chance to make a statement. The Zips seized all of that firmly with both hands, and some cleats may have also been generously applied. Akron proves its record isn't a fluke, and Ohio has some refocusing to do going into the championship game against the Broncos. Of course, voters rewarded the Zips for their stellar play with the number two slot behind Western Michigan. Reputation is certainly a thing. Despite both Toledo and Buffalo having byes, the Rockets' longstanding role as conference giants probably played a role in them easing ahead of the Bulls this week. Bowl-Eligible: Akron (8-3), Buffalo (9-3), Kent State (6-6), Miami (OH) (7-5), Ohio (8-4), Toledo (8-4), W. Michigan (11-1) (All those eligible teams. Gosh, that's pretty to look at) The next (and last) Power Rankings will come after Bowls have concluded. We can't wait to bring you more charts of dubious value, but until then remember: "If it's not MAC, it's wack!"
  11. (Note: For our previous look at potential award winners from a month ago: http://cfbhc.com/index.php?/topic/19176-2020-mid-american-conference-national-awards-watch/) There's still plenty for the MAC fan to look forward to: The big Championship game between Western Michigan and Ohio, Bowl season with seven (!) MAC teams participating. But some players compiled some serious tape during the season, enough that it might get them some elite national awardage! Unfortunately some of the players we highlighted in this space last time have fallen off the pace, but there are still those with reasonable claims to trophies. Let's take a look! John Mackey Award (top tight end) TE Casey Swann, (So), Miami (OH). 74 catches for 944 yards, 13 TDs, 1 Fumble lost. Swann doesn't quite have the numbers of, say, Baylor's Hastin Rider. But they are good enough to mention him in the conversation, and they are good enough to lead the MAC in all major receiving categories. As a tight end! Also, unlike Rider, he is coming back to play at least one more year alongside the FLAMETHROWER ZACK CERA and that potent Redhawks passing game. Jim Parker Trophy (top offensive lineman) OT Marcus Waterman, Sr, Buffalo. Offensive line has a 6.15 rating, allowed 7 sacks. (80 rating by NFL scouts) Death, taxes, Buffalo having a good offensive line. As the Bulls left tackle Waterman is the key figure in the last of those truisms being, er, true. It may have taken QB Blair Holcomb to transform the Bulls' identity but Waterman and his fellow linemen gave Holcomb a place to safely stand while doing so, and he may have earned himself a shot at hearing his name called on the first day of next season's NFLHC draft. Bronko Nagurski Trophy: top defensive player Bill Willis Trophy: top defensive lineman Rotary Lombardi Award: top defensive lineman/linebacker Outland Trophy: top interior lineman on either offense or defense: DT Marlon Bailey, (Jr), Akron. 49 tackles, 7.0 sacks. The "Eater of Worlds" absolutely belongs on the shortlist for each and every single one of these awards. You want to know why Akron is bowling for the first time ever? Look no further than the big man in the middle. Yes, T.J. Zamora is having a bounce-back year, but Bailey is why the Zips have 26 sacks and are allowing only 93.42 rushing yards per game - both figures leading the conference. Bailey may not win all these awards, but if he doesn't come away with at least two of them he will have gotten robbed in our slightly biased opinion. Lou Groza Trophy: top kicker K Harry DeMarco, (Fr), W. Michigan. 23/24 FGs (95.83%), 36/36 XPs. 9/9 FGM 40-49 yds., 0/1 FGM 50+ yds. Long 48 DeMarco did not miss a kick until the very last game of the regular season, and it was from 50. He was calm and composed the entire year for Western as a freshman, and the Broncos will love having him and his reliable kicking for the next few years. K Timmy Wilhelm, Sr, Ohio. 24/26 FGs (92.31%), 40/40 XPs. 10/11 FGM 40-49 yds., 1/2 FGM 50+ yds. Long 50 Speaking of reliable, that's what the Bobcats are about to lose with Timmy Wilhelm's graduation. TIMMAY has won Special Teams Player of the Week honors eleven times throughout his career, and it only seems right he ends it with some national love for his consistency - his only two misses have been from 46 or greater. Burlsworth Trophy: top player with a current skill of 3.0 or less As we did before, we will only consider players with a potential of 3.5 or less. RB Makai Carr (Jr), C. Michigan (2.5 of 3.5) - 259 carries for 1184 yards, 10 TDs, 1 Fumble lost. WR George Boyd (Sr), Buffalo (3.0 of 3.0) - 47 catches for 749 yards, 5 TDs. CB Richard Roberts (Sr), Kent State (3.0 of 3.0) - 16 tackles, 5 INTs. ILB Russell Owens (Sr), C. Michigan (2.0 of 2.0) - 57 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR. ("Rudy!") OLB Raymond Smith, (SO), Akron (3.0 of 3.5) - 33 tackles, 1 INT, 4.5 sacks, 1 FF "If it's not MAC, it's wack!"
  12. Welcome back everyone to the MAC Network, I am your host Tim Timms, and we are here after signing day to present the final classes for all of the MAC teams for the 2020 season. How the table has turned. Buffalo moves up one to end the season on top, and Kent State moves up 2 to move behind them, and Miami (OH) keeps 3rd. Ball State moves up two where they are tied with Akron, who jumped from 10th in the previous week. Eastern Michigan also moves up considerably, while Western Michigan drops two spots and Ohio drops 7 spots after holding 1st for most of the season. Northern Illinois falls to the bottom, as they, Bowling Green and Toledo all have an average of 2.75 or less. The most surprising thing is Toledo with 23 (!!!) 2.5* potential recruits, enough to have a starting defense and offense +1. Total Recruits (all *) Team 2.5* 3* 3.5* 4* 4.5* 5* Total (2.5* +) Tot. Stars Avg. Stars 11 Buffalo 3 1 4 2 1 0 11 37 3.36 26 Kent State 5 7 8 3 2 0 25 84.5 3.25 14 Miami (OH) 2 4 1 4 0 1 12 45 3.21 15 Ball State 1 4 6 1 1 0 13 48 3.2 20 Akron 4 5 7 1 1 1 19 64 3.2 25 Eastern Michigan 6 8 6 2 1 1 24 79.5 3.18 22 Western Michigan 2 6 6 2 1 1 18 69.5 3.16 15 Ohio 1 5 3 1 1 1 12 46.5 3.1 21 Central Michigan 2 9 4 2 1 0 18 64.5 3.07 26 Bowling Green 10 13 0 1 0 0 24 71.5 2.75 29 Toledo 23 2 0 0 2 1 28 79 2.72 16 Northern Illinois 4 4 1 1 1 0 11 43.5 2.72 More big shakeups in the national rankings, as Kent State moves back up to the top to finish the season, followed closely by Western Michigan. Akron, Ohio, Toledo and Eastern Michigan are fairly close behind, all in the 70s, with the last three 1 behind another. Miami (OH), Central Michigan and Buffalo managed to bring in weaker classes, being ranked in the 90s, and Ball State, Northern Illinois and Bowling Green all rank in the bottom 18 classes in the nation. Kent State (Class rank: 56) +7 Western Michigan (Class rank: 57) -14 Akron (Class rank: 70) +12 Ohio (Class rank: 75) -13 Toledo (Class rank: 76) +28 Eastern Michigan (Class rank: 77) +9 Miami (OH) (Class rank: 92) +0 Central Michigan (Class rank: 93) -14 Buffalo (Class rank: 96) -2 Ball State (Class rank: 102) -9 Northern Illinois (Class rank: 108) -1 Bowling Green (Class rank: 117) -3 I was unable to sit down for an interview this week, but in the coming weeks there will be an analysis of each class with myself and Jieret. After JUCO signings, here is my analysis for each one that preferred a MAC school. ILB Devin Frazier, Jr, Mike, 4.5/5.0 Team: Probably the most surprising signing here, Akron managed to sign away an absolute stud inside linebacker from the national champion runners up and #13 Clemson, who managed to sign 2 other JUCOs. This is a massive upgrade for the Zips, giving them someone to try and lift the giant weight of Marlon Bailey's capable shoulders if he decides to return for one more go around. OT Kyler Frey, Jr, Run Blocking, 3.0/4.0 Team: Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Illinois swooped in and took Frey, who would have been an instant starter for Ball State. Instead he will be an instant starter at right tackle for the Fighting Illini, the exact same role he would have played in Muncie, except he will be playing at a higher level of competition. CB Ahmed Holman, (Jr), Man Coverage, 4.0/4.5 Team: Bowling Green might have had interest from the promising Holman, but very few recruits will pass up the National Champions, and he will start at CB1 for the Nittany Lions next season, only a dream for many prospects. RB Denzel Porter, Jr, Power, 3.5/4.0 Team: Buffalo picks up a solid, ready-play starter at tailback for the post-MAMADOU SMASH, pre-Alec Self era. Porter will keep up the bruising running style that Buffalo is known for, and keep the offense balanced with Blair Holcomb going into his final season. P Lane Adair, Jr, Power, 3.5/4.5 Team: Despite having interest in CMU, Adair commits to Wazzu to play out his final two years of college football. Adair would have been one of the top 3 punters in conference with Mohammed Saylor and Eric Caudill, but instead he heads to the PAC-12. FB E.J. Greer, Jr, Pass Blocking, 3.5/4.5 Team: Eastern Michigan picks up a strong lead blocker, who was extremely interested in them, for future starter Tyler Pearson, the #2 running back in this year's class. This looks to be the beginning of nightmares for MAC coaches in the years to come. ILB Mosi Gary, Jr, Will, 3.5/4.0 Team: Despite already having a very similar linebacker on roster, Gary was interested in the Eagles from the get go, and committed there. It could help EMU play a 3-4, but their defensive ends and outside linebackers are split at one blitz and one contain each, so it puts whoever follows in Jamzz's footsteps in an interesting and pleasing predicament. SS Steven Gordon, Jr, Man Coverage, 3.5/4.5 Team: Kent State loses its heart and soul in defense at the end of this year in Quinn Benson, who was one of the most clutch players in the MAC this season. And to replace him, they have another JUCO who may turn out to be even better. Kent State won this one uncontested, and looks to build a strong defense in the future. QB Emmett Mast, Jr, Hybrid, 3.0/4.0 Team: With all their QB trouble this year, the Huskies now have the opportunity to try a different type of signal caller, one who had family connections to NIU, to see if they can support an offense that is losing its two best players in Emory Johnson and Daniel Hutchins. This will be a complete shift in scheme and mentality for Northern Illinois, and it will be interesting to see how they adapt. OLB Ruben Cahill, Sr, Coverage, 4.5/4.5 Team: Another player that was interested in playing for coach Subsequent, the senior from Illinois instead goes to play for the Fighting Irish. He doesn't fit the scheme they are playing in 2020, but he is just too talented to pass up on. The Huskies have two young and talented linebackers, and Cahill would have made that an almost unbeatable unit patrolling the middle of the field. DE Ezekiel Williams Jr., Jr, Blitz, 4.0/4.5 Cincy Toledo Team: Toledo continues its record of signing JUCOs, and they pick up an instant impact pass rusher, who they managed to take from instate rivals Cincinnati. Toledo has one of the best rosters in the MAC, but they have a "weakness" at one end spot, and Williams Jr. would make the current MAC sack leader, redshirt sophomore Dwayne Briggs, look even better, as well as adding another danger to opposing QBs. #Toledo2021 is looking even better now. That was the final recruiting recap for the season, thank you for all your support this season, we will be back next week with an in-depth analysis with Jieret, and we will also be back next season! Thank you all for tuning in to the final MAC Recruiting Recap Show for 2020, and remember, if it's not MAC, it's wack!
  13. Last Week’s Results: 3-4 Season to Date: 60-20 (Producer's note: Due to an extended travel schedule, we regretfully inform you that we are unable to present a full preview show. Therefore, we give you our picks in shortened form without extended analysis. Our apologies for the inconvenience. Also, they wouldn't let #MACtion Jenny on the plane with the sacred torch.) Thursday Night [Non-conference] Cincinnati (3-8) at Miami (OH) (7-4): Line: -11.5 Prediction: 34-27 Best!Miami's multiple receiving weapons will cause a lot of headaches in the Bearcat back seven, especially considering that their linebacking corps is not very proficient in covering tight ends like Casey Swann. Considering that Cincy is not all that comfortable throwing the ball, the Redhawks can pay more attention to stopping QB Dillon Schaefer and RB Aaron Street on the ground. Miami would love to dare Schaefer to throw anywhere near FS Nicholas Mingo, it's been a whole game since he had two interceptions. He's due! Central Michigan (2-9 overall, 2-5 conference) at Kent State (5-6, 4-3): Line: -7 Prediction: 31-21 Kent State is one of our least favorite teams to prognosticate for, simply because they're they hardest to predict. We love them, but man do they make things hard. But the Golden Flashes have that bowl game in their sights, John Garland is playing well, and the defense has a knack for stepping up in big moments especially in the friendly confines of Dix Stadium. Saturday Morning Ohio (8-3, 7-0) at Akron (8-3, 5-2): Line: -3.5 Prediction: 27-21 We can never bet against Akron's ability to limit a running game with the "Eater of Worlds," DT Marlon Bailey in the middle of the line. But QB Stephen Peters has given the Bobcats a second dimension to their offense beyond Owen. Freaking. WALTON. and we expect that to be the difference in a tightly contested game. Western Michigan (10-1, 7-0) at Eastern Michigan (4-7, 3-4): Line: -24 Prediction: 30-17 The Broncos will try to contain DT Shane Horton and utilize Chase Sims' legs to hit the boundary often. The Eagles will have to figure out how to move the ball effectively against one of the better defenses in the conference. The Broncos will likely dare QB Giovanni Shaw to throw at that fearsome WMU secondary, and we're not sure they can do that - especially with their offensive line struggling to give Shaw time to pass. BYES: Bowling Green (2-10), Buffalo (9-3), Ball State (1-11), Northern Illinois (2-10), Toledo (8-4)
  14. Last week: Lots of things involving all the teams. And now, the charts of dubious value! (Remember, you should probably vote if you don't like your ranking. And play well. That too.) MAC Power Rankings After Week 15 Rank (Poll Pts.) Team (First Place Votes) Record (Conf. Record) Streak Change from Last Week 1 (48) Western Michigan Broncos (4) 10-1 (7-0) W9 - 2 (44) Ohio Bobcats 8-3 (7-0) W1 - 3 (40) Akron Zips 8-3 (5-2) W1 +1 tie-4 (34) Buffalo Bulls 9-3 (5-3) W3 - tie-4 (34) Toledo Rockets 8-4 (5-3) L1 -1 6 (27) Miami (OH) Redhawks 7-4 (4-4) L1 - 7 (25) Kent State Golden Flashes 5-6 (4-3) W1 - 8 (19) Eastern Michigan Eagles 4-7 (3-4) W2 - 9 (17) Central Michigan Chippewas 2-9 (2-5) L4 - 10 (11) Bowling Green Falcons 2-10 (1-7) W1 +1 11 (9) Northern Illinois Huskies 2-10 (1-7) L1 -1 12 (4) Ball State Cardinals 1-11 (1-7) L8 - Number of voters: 4 (not a record) 12 points awarded for first, 11 for second, etc. Both recommendations of games to watch from last week lived up to the hype and then some, ending in upsets. Akron knocked off Toledo, showing that their record and play are not flukes. Although we can't hype their upcoming matchup against Ohio as a battle for the divsion title it will still be a fascinating game to watch. It's no surprise that the Zips and Rockets traded places (yes, tie with Bufallo and all) this week. Kent State's win over Miami didn't vault them over the Redhawks, although it DID get them a big step closer to a bowl berth. It also got them closer in the votes to Best!Miami, even accounting for the smaller number of voters. Finally, BGSU and NIU trade places again - not a surprise after Bowling Green's victory over the Huskies. Coaches Popadom17 and subsequent now have time to look at their depth charts and figure out how to best integrate their new recruits. Rivalry Watch! For some schools, it's that time to take Emperor Palpatine's advice and let the hate flow through you. Here are some rivalry games to whet the appetite: Battle for the Bell: Cincinnati (3-8) at Miami (OH) (7-4). Someone will be able to check in on @Rome, just in case the Bearcats lose this game. Right? I don't know how @caesari would fare if the Redhawks lose but I imagine there will be several tauntings in his general direction. Michigan MAC Trophy: Western Michigan (10-1) at Eastern Michigan (4-7). The trophy is staying in Kalamazoo this year no matter what, but the Eagles would love to say it's only by default. A victory over the Broncos means a three-way tie between the Michigan schools and would give Eastern a serious rallying point as they head into the off-season. Bowl Watch! Who's going bowling this season, who's almost there, and who will be watching a lot of ESPN in December and January? Let's take a look! Bowl-Eligible: Akron (8-3), Buffalo (9-3), Miami (OH) (7-4), Ohio (8-3), Toledo (8-4), W. Michigan (10-1) Eligible with win this week, missing out with a loss: Kent State (5-6, vs. C. Michigan) Definitely watching Bowl Season from the couch: Ball State (1-9), Bowling Green (1-9), C. Michigan (2-7), E. Michigan (3-7), N. Illinois (1-9)
  15. Welcome back to the MAC Network, I am your host Tim Timms, and we are back with the installment before signing day here on the MAC Recruiting Recap Show, and JUCO recruiting results will begin coming out this week. A very exciting time in everyone's favourite conference. 13 recruits this week, only 3 3.5s, and all the rest 2.5s or 3.0s. Those final battles have become extremely tense as the smallest of margins could make a difference at this stage. Next week there could be a huge swing in recruiting rankings and class sizes. Also, JUCOs will help to add to the top end of many classes. This week is huge for all coaches in terms of final depth players that they manage to sign, and will be a great help for some schools. The main movement is in the middle of the table this week, as the top and bottom 4 stay the same. Northern Illinois drops 2 spots after signing their first recruit in weeks, and this allows WMU and Ball State to move up one spot each. For those interested, the average potential stars for the conference is approximately 3.35, compared to last year's 2.82. A massive improvement and a big step foward Total Recruits Team 2.5-Star 3-Star 3.5-Star 4-Star 4.5-Star 5-Star Total Tot. Stars Avg. Stars 7 Ohio 0 1 3 1 1 17 7 27 3.86 5 Buffalo 0 0 3 1 1 0 5 19 3.8 6 Miami (OH) 0 1 1 4 0 0 6 22.5 3.75 13 Kent State 0 1 8 3 1 0 13 47.5 3.65 16 Western Michigan 1 5 6 2 1 1 16 56 3.5 11 Ball State 0 4 5 1 1 0 11 38 3.45 5 Northern Illinois 0 1 2 0 1 0 5 17 3.4 16 Eastern Michigan 1 7 6 0 0 1 16 53.5 3.34 16 Central Michigan 0 6 4 2 1 0 16 53 3.31 17 Akron 3 5 7 1 1 0 17 55.5 3.26 20 Bowling Green 8 11 0 1 0 0 20 57 2.85 8 Toledo 5 0 0 0 0 0 8 22.5 2.81 The only team moving up this week is Kent State, while 4 teams keep their spot and the final 7 move down or two spots. Overall not a bad week, but we can expect some major movement next week with final signings and JUCOs. Western Michigan (Class rank: 43) -1 Ohio (Class rank: 62) +0 Kent State (Class rank: 63) +3 Central Michigan (Class rank: 79) +0 Akron (Class rank: 82) -2 Eastern Michigan (Class rank: 86) -2 Miami (OH) (Class rank: 92) -1 Ball State (Class rank: 93) -1 Buffalo (Class rank: 94) -1 Toledo (Class rank: 104) -1 Northern Illinois (Class rank: 107) +0 Bowling Green (Class rank: 114) +0 For this week's interview, I was able to speak with Coach darkage of the Akron Zips once again, talking about the season in review. Tim Timms: Thanks for coming onto the show again Coach! Coach darkage: My pleasure. Tim Timms: After the worst recruiting class in the MAC in 2019, did this year's class check the boxes? Coach darkage: Last year with me being a new coach and all to come in at week 4 when all the good recruits were basically decided was hard. This year I had the freedom to choose who I wanted to go after in week one and I also didn't stick to one stubborn player like i did last year. So yes, this year I feel I have gotten most of the player I want and still hoping I can get the JUCO player that's interested. Tim Timms: What has been your best win this season, and you most frustrating loss? Coach darkage: Our best win would have to be vs Buffalo because we had redeemed ourselves as a top MAC team after a loss to our rivals Kent state. Speaking of Kent State they were definitely our most frustrating loss this season because we were hoping to make it all the way to WMU undefeated and get ranked in the polls but seeing as they just knocked off Miami we don't feel as bad. Tim Timms: Are there any quiet achievers on your team that you would like to highlight? Coach darkage: Marlon Bailey... This kid in my opinion is the best DT in the nation and he doesn't get the attention deserved for it. He is Leading the MAC in tackles and sacks AS A DT. I could see him winning tons of awards this year and probably go pro. This guy is one of the best players I've ever coached also he has a great business attitude. Tim Timms: What is your goal for next season with the departure of TJ Zamora, Jaydon Boykin, Corey Brantley and Jacob Alves among others? Coach darkage: We still want that MAC title game more than anything and with dedication and hard work i believe we could pull it off but our team will be young next year so our main goal is a bowl game. No changes with the JUCO players this week, but next week there will be analysis for each player. ILB Devin Frazier 6-1 257 Jr Lakeland Community College (Kirtland OH) 4.5 of 5.0 Mike AKR CLE OT Kyler Frey 6-5 286 Jr Black Hawk College-Moline (Moline IL) 3.0 of 4.0 Run Blocking BST CB Ahmed Holman 5-11 189 (Jr) Oakland Community College (Bloomfield Hills MI) 4.0 of 4.5 Man Coverage BGSU RB Denzel Porter 5-9 210 Jr Fashion Institute of Technology (New York City NY) 3.5 of 4.0 Power UTAH BUF P Lane Adair 6-4 182 Jr Minnesota State CTC (Fergus Falls MN) 3.5 of 4.5 Power CMU FB E.J. Greer 6-1 249 Jr Little Big Horn College (Crow Agency MT) 3.5 of 4.5 Pass Blocking EMU EMU ILB Mosi Gary 6-3 236 Jr Wayne County Community College (Detroit MI) 3.5 of 4.0 Will EMU SS Steven Gordon 6-1 213 Jr CCBC-Essex (Essex MD) 3.5 of 4.5 Man Coverage KNT QB Emmett Mast 5-11 199 Jr North Iowa Area Community College (Mason City IA) 3.0 of 4.0 Hybrid ISU NIU OLB Ruben Cahill 6-3 220 Sr Waubonsee Community College (Sugar Grove IL) 4.5 of 4.5 Coverage NIU DE Ezekiel Williams Jr. 6-1 265 Jr Southwestern Community College (Creston IA) 4.0 of 4.5 Blitz CINCY TOL DE David Hunt, Contain, 1.0/3.5 Top Teams: (signed) Kent State gets their conference leading 8th 3.5 potential recruit, overtaking Akron. Toledo's late attempts to come in and take him away from the Golden Flashes were for naught, as just a few weeks later he commits to Coach TazerMan's squad. Riley Finch, Target, 2.0/3.5 Top Teams: , , The Buckeyes keep their lead, and it would take a miracle at this point for Finch to change his decision. Central Michigan are a small, out of state school, and Miami have already used most of their resources And that's it for this week, thanks for tuning in to another MAC Recruiting Recap Show. And remember, if it's not MAC, it's wack! Thanks to @darkage for taking the time for an interview this week.
  16. Last Week’s Results: 2-1 Season to Date: 57-16 Welcome back for a full slate of #MACtion! Along with special silent guest star Jerry Reed, I’m your host Bruce Baguen. This week we hope you rested up, because Everyone's Favorite Conference shows up in full force! All twelve teams are in action this week, and we have #MACtion for you from Thursday to Saturday. But we have to kick this week off in style. And you know what that means... #MACtion Jenny? Thursday Night Georgia State (5-6) at Eastern Michigan (3-7): non-conference Last Week: The Panthers were the latest to add to UMass’ chain of misery (W at 41-22) while the Eagles rested, ready to end the season on a high note. (BYE) (run) If we’re going to preview Georgia State, we need to understand (runrun) that when we talk offense, there (runRUNrun) is a (runrunRUNrun) very specific place to start: Evan Grant (RUN). If there’s one person who understands how NIU’s Daniel Hutchins feels about carrying the load it’s Grant, who has nearly run for as many yards (276 carries for 1476 yards, 21 TDs) as Georgia State has thrown - 1556. The junior has been a monster all season long; he’s only failed to reach the 100-yard mark once and that was a performance against Auburn that still got 93 yards and a TD. Every GSU opponent knew the ball was going to Grant, and just like Hutchins it didn’t matter. On the few times Grant didn’t have the ball it meant junior QB Derrick Brinkley was, to middling results (129 of 221 [58.37%] for 1556 yards, 6/2 TD/INT ratio, 57 carries for 318 yards, 5 rush TDs). Brinkley’s best game was last week where he went 15 of 29 for 227 and 2 TDs, but… it was against UMass. When Brinkley does take to the air his favorite target by far is TE Bobby LeBlanc (38 catches for 584 yards, 4 TDs), suggesting a ball-control offense similar to EMU’s. The job of slowing/containing Grant begins up front for Eastern Michigan with DT Shane Horton (29 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 1 FF). Horton has been a load for opposing O-lines to handle all year, and that’s had a trickle down effect on his linemates. Look at these lines from EMU’s last game: ILB Patryk Bennett, 7 tackles, 1 INT DT Shane Horton, 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF DE Nicholas Bass, 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FR DE Kyle Whitten, 4 tackles, 1 sack Despite Grant’s productivity, GSU’s offensive line is middle of the road in talent and has played like it (5.35 rating). If EMU can win the battle at the line of scrimmage - something Horton and company are good at - it will go a long way towards making life easier for the Eagle offense. Towards the EMU offense? They're still rooted in their ball-control identity and the need to run the ball. The Eagles rank sixth in the conference for rushing yards per game and dead last in passing yards per - no surprise where EMU makes their hay. QB Giovanni Shaw (148 of 258 for 1691 yards, 8/16 TD/INT) is not going to win a game by himself at this stage of his career, so it's on his legs (47 carries for 373, 3 TDs) and RB Jamel Jamison (218 carries for 918 yards, 8 TDs). EMU's leading receiver TE Amir Nixon has 413 yards on the season - that's a robust 41.3 yards per game! This is as close to a "Punting is Winning" game we're likely to see all year - field position IS going to matter. The Panthers' defensive talent seems to line up well with EMU's preferences. GSU boasts a trio of experienced and talented upperclassmen at linebacker, and DT Willy Eller (34 tackles, 3.0 sacks) is a disrupting presence up front. GSU will have to hope that their front seven can handle Jamison and company, because their safeties aren't very steady. The can be caught if EMU dials up an opportunistic bomb. Prediction: 17-14 On talent alone we'd go with the Panthers. But we're leaning homer because EMU has a coach, and GSU doesn't. Who knows what plays and plans Georgia State is dedicated to running and running against? We think that Eastern can catch Georgia State in a few bad alignments and wear down their defense. In a contest that features a lot of running time of possession is key, and the Eagles are in better position to prepare for the slog.
  17. Last week: Buffalo did VERY VERY BAD THINGS to Bowling Green. The NIU offense (not just Daniel Hutchins) does good things, win accordingly. Toledo exorcises a demon from last year, dispatching the Chips. That's it. How did this affect the rankings? Let's find out: To the chart! (Remember, you should probably vote if you don't like your ranking. And play well. That too.) MAC Power Rankings After Week 14 Rank (Poll Pts.) Team (First Place Votes) Record (Conf. Record) Streak Change from Last Week 1 (84) Western Michigan Broncos (7) 9-1 (6-0) W8 - 2 (73) Ohio Bobcats 7-3 (6-0) L1 - 3 (70) Toledo Rockets 8-3 (5-2) W1 - tie-4 (61) Buffalo Bulls 8-3 (5-3) W2 - tie-4 (61) Akron Zips 7-3 (4-2) L2 +1 6 (50) Miami (OH) Redhawks 7-3 (4-3) W1 - 7 (42) Kent State Golden Flashes 4-6 (3-3) L1 - 8 (32) Eastern Michigan Eagles 3-7 (3-4) W1 +1 9 (31) Central Michigan Chippewas 2-8 (2-4) L3 -1 10 (21) Northern Illinois Huskies 2-9 (1-6) W1 +2 11 (11) Bowling Green Falcons 1-10 (0-7) L8 -1 12 (10) Ball State Cardinals 1-10 (1-6) L7 -1 Number of voters: 7 (a record!) 12 points awarded for first, 11 for second, etc. Even though there were only three games, quite a bit of movement! Central and Eastern swap spots this week, while NIU rides that win and jumps ahead of Bowling Green and Ball State. The interesting outcome is the Zips inching forward and tying with Buffalo, despite having a bye this week and the Bulls pasting the Falcons. Regardless of how you feel about that Akron will have chances to prove themselves, they close out the season by facing Toledo and Ohio in that order. What to watch: Miami (OH) at Kent State: Do or die for the Golden Flashes' Bowl Dreams starts by hosting the formidable Redhawks. Akron at Toledo: The Zips will know by the time this game rolls around if they still cling to slim division hopes, but they can't afford to be scoreboard watching against the Rockets. What NOT to watch: UMass (0-11) at Buffalo (8-3). Unless you like snuff films. Sicko. Bowl Watch! Who's going bowling this season, who's almost there, and who will be watching a lot of ESPN in December and January? Let's take a look! Bowl-Eligible: Akron (7-3), Buffalo (7-3), Miami (OH) (7-3), Ohio (7-3), Toledo (7-3), W. Michigan (9-1) Eligible with win this week: None Missing out on Bowl Season with a loss this week: Kent State (4-6, vs. Miami (OH) ) Definitely watching Bowl Season from the couch: Ball State (1-9), Bowling Green (1-9), C. Michigan (2-7), E. Michigan (3-7), N. Illinois (1-9)
  18. Welcome back to the MAC Network, I am your host Tim Timms, and we are back with another MAC Recruiting Recap Show, and the big news this week is that the JUCO recruits have been released ad teams will begin bidding for their services next week! MAC teams signed 8 recruits this week, and all of them were 2.5 potential players. As recruiting winds down I expect we will see many more of these depth players beeing signed, and for some teams if they have a high enough floor they might start for a season while a higher potential player redshirts. Bowling Green brings in 5, Toledo 2 and WMU 1. Most of the attention this week was focused at the JUCOs, which we will get to later. Movement in the tabular standings this week as drops two spots, meaning and move up one each. and now have the same ave rage potential per recruit, now 0.45 below Akron. Total Recruits Team 2.5-Star 3-Star 3.5-Star 4-Star 4.5-Star 5-Star Total Tot. Stars Avg. Stars 6 Ohio 0 1 2 1 1 1 6 23.5 3.92 5 Buffalo 0 0 3 1 1 0 5 19 3.8 6 Miami (OH) 0 1 1 4 0 0 6 22.5 3.75 12 Kent State 0 1 7 3 1 0 12 44 3.67 4 Northern Illinois 0 1 2 0 1 0 4 14.5 3.63 13 Western Michigan 1 3 5 2 1 1 13 46.5 3.58 11 Ball State 0 4 5 1 1 0 11 38 3.45 13 Central Michigan 0 6 4 2 1 0 13 44.5 3.42 16 Eastern Michigan 1 7 6 0 0 1 16 53.5 3.34 17 Akron 3 5 7 1 1 0 17 55.5 3.26 16 Bowling Green 8 7 0 1 0 0 16 45 2.81 8 Toledo 7 0 0 0 0 1 8 22.5 2.81 Only downwards movement unfortunately in the nation rankings this week. No team drops more than 3 places, but all but 2 teams manage to slide. WMU still holds top spot comfortably, and Ohio and Kent State have 2 and 3 with some breathing room. Three teams are one after another in the 90's, and then the former powerhouse Toledo manages to stay ahead of two teams that have gone through their share of coaching struggles and changes. Western Michigan (Class rank: 42) -1 Ohio (Class rank: 62) +0 Kent State (Class rank: 66) -1 Central Michigan (Class rank: 79) -3 Akron (Class rank: 80) -3 Eastern Michigan (Class rank: 82) -1 Miami (OH) (Class rank: 91) -1 Ball State (Class rank: 92) -1 Buffalo (Class rank: 93) -1 Toledo (Class rank: 103) +0 Northern Illinois (Class rank: 107) +0 Bowling Green (Class rank: 112) -2 For my interview this week, I was able to speak with TazerMan of Kent State regarding his experiences in his first season as head coach, as well as his opinions on the season and recruiting for the Golden Flashes. Tim Timms: Great to have you on the show Coach! Coach TazerMan: Thanks for having me here. Tim Timms: What has been the biggest challenge for you this year, in any aspect of your job? Coach TazerMan: The biggest challenge has been coming into a program with a lack of consistency in past coaching. I doubt many people know, but we didn't have anyone redshirted in 2017, 2018 or 2019. Some guys are graduating a year earlier than they should, and its lead to some positions like receiver and corner that are going to be a big void come next year, and hopefully some young guys can step up. Tim Timms: Are you happy with your recruiting so far this season, and what is your outlook on JUCOs? Coach TazerMan: For the most part yes, but I have learnt a lot of lessons that I can hopefully apply next year. Taking the two guys out of Texas was big, and getting four high quality starters was great, as well as 7 guys that will start for us in the coming years, as well as a plug-n-play receiver. I am dissapointed in myself in my handling of Felix McCormick. I thought he was all ours and decided to visit another player that we ended up signing with no troubles, but we could have had a strong tackle to start with our new offensive pieces in 2021. Tim Timms: Which position group or player has been the most surprising or pleasing this year, and one that you want to step up for the last two games in your hunt for bowl eligibility? Coach TazerMan: Most surprising or pleasing? Probably Richard (Roberts). He has been a stud this year, 4 picks and really solid coverage against some really good wide outs, and no one expected anything of him. He really pushes himself and has made himself the best player possible. Someone I want to step up? I think he knows it, but Quinn really has to go out there and not only be an emotional and vocal leader, but he has to make some splash plays. His two best games this year he got MAC defensive player of the week, if he can have those kinds of games against Miami and Central Michigan, we've got a shot. Tim Timms: And to finish, what is your plan going into 2021 and beyond, any expectations regarding performance? Coach TazerMan: 2021 is going to be a tough one, last year's recruiting was not good, so we will have to make do, and we will lose a lot, our top 4 receivers and our starting secondary as well, so its going to be up to some gutsy and gritty performances to win games. After that, when John leaves we will lose our leader, but we have a lot of exciting and talented players coming in, so I am already excited to coach that team! And before we get to the recruiting battles, we have a preview of the JUCOs that have interest in MAC schools and my thoughts on the likelihood they commit to everyone's favourite conference. ILB Devin Frazier 6-1 257 Jr Lakeland Community College (Kirtland OH) 4.5 of 5.0 Mike AKR CLEM Potentially a huge upgrade here for Akron, but the Frazier's family connections to Clemson will not help at all, and it will be a hge win for Akron if they ca sign him. This one looks quite unlikely from the get-go, but we will see. OT Kyler Frey 6-5 286 Jr Black Hawk College-Moline (Moline IL) 3.0 of 4.0 Run Blocking BST A better outlook on this one, as Frey looks to be a solid player and an instant starter for the Cardinals, as he will take over from current right tackle Carter Shannon and provide upside for his senior season. He and left tackle Aiden Hammer will make a huge impact for incoming redshirt freshmen Damani Laws, who is a fan of running of tackle, and Frey might just become his new best friend CB Ahmed Holman 5-11 189 (Jr) Oakland Community College (Bloomfield Hills MI) 4.0 of 4.5 Man Coverage BGSU If Coach Popadom17 can sign Holman this class will be exponentially better. As more teams in the MAC develop a strong aerial attack, a shutdown corner will become invaluable, and here he is. With a year under his belt and improvements on offense, even despite the loss of star Brandon Thomas to the draft, the Falcons will still be able to give qbs nightmares RB Denzel Porter 5-9 210 Jr Fashion Institute of Technology (New York City NY) 3.5 of 4.0 Power UTAH BUF While Porter is not a necessity for Buffalo, as they have 4.5 potential Alec Self redshirting, he could come in and start for two years, and when he graduates Self would be project to be a 4.0/4.5 with two years to play, continuing the dominating power running that Buffalo is known for. P Lane Adair 6-4 182 Jr Minnesota State CTC (Fergus Falls MN) 3.5 of 4.5 Power CMU Another special teamer from the JUCO fields is looking to play at CMU, as the strong-legged Adair follows the lead of Trent Michaels. The Chipps currently have a 3.5/3.5 starting at punter, but Adair would come in straight away and be an upgrade if he wasn't redshirted. FB E.J. Greer 6-1 249 Jr Little Big Horn College (Crow Agency MT) 3.5 of 4.5 Pass Blocking EMU EMU EMU is almost guaranteed one JUCO recruit, and he is in a position of need! They are currently starting a 2.5 TE at fullback, and with the signing of the nation's #2 RB, they will need to have a road paver in front of him, and Greer fits the bill perfectly. ILB Mosi Gary 6-3 236 Jr Wayne County Community College (Detroit MI) 3.5 of 4.0 Will EMU On top of that, EMU is the sole interest of an instate inside backer who will come in almost identical to current backup Julien Rinehart, so it will be interesting to see how much Jamzz pursues him, as he is not a major need. SS Steven Gordon 6-1 213 Jr CCBC-Essex (Essex MD) 3.5 of 4.5 Man Coverage KNT A successor to the captain of the Flash defense, Gordon will enter with a higher ceiling and a similar style of play, as well as being a bigger and faster player. Kent State could do with another 4.5 on defense after signing Geno Mason this season, and Gordon would provide an instant play maker. QB Emmett Mast 5-11 199 Jr North Iowa Area Community College (Mason City IA) 3.0 of 4.0 Hybrid ISU NIU The Huskies have started a scrambler and a pocket QB this year, will they try the in between next year with Mast, who is also linked to Iowa State, who have had well documented Quarterback troubles of their own. He is quite undersized, but brings an interesting option to the table for Coach Subsequent to begin building his own team and scheme, starting with the signal caller. OLB Ruben Cahill 6-3 220 Sr Waubonsee Community College (Sugar Grove IL) 4.5 of 4.5 Coverage NIU Northern Illinois are also being heavily considered by Cahill, who will make the young and promising and Husky linebacker core become a fearsome one, as they will have a 4.5 potential junior, a 5.0 potential sophomore and a 4.5 senior, a truly terrifying sight for MAC teams. DE Ezekiel Williams Jr. 6-1 265 Jr Southwestern Community College (Creston IA) 4.0 of 4.5 Blitz CINCY TOL Toledo looks to use family connections to pull Williams away from Cincy, who are looking to retool with an impressive recruiting class this year. Toledo have a relative weakness at left end, and sophomore Dwayne Briggs has been tearing it up this year, with 6.5 sacks, good for 3rd in the MAC. Pairing these two would be even scarier for #Toledo 2021 Due to the lack of upper tier recruits, the recruiting battles will only follow those on the list, and JUCO recruits will be incorporated when they begin to be bidden on and signed. WR Ajani Jennings, Target, 1.0/4.0 Top Teams: (signed) Alas, after being on here since the beginning Jennings will sign with the Spartans. Eastern Michigan got so close, but they had to go for the big punch, and they almost landed it. When MSU lost the race for Victor Austin, it spelled the end for Jamzz's hopes, and unfortunately for him he won't be an Eagle. DE David Hunt, Contain, 1.0/3.5 Top Teams: , , After Toledo moved up next to Kent State, they pulled away again, perhaps signalling a fall in Toledo's interest. However, they can't be counted out, as they will definitely be looking for more recruits with starting potential, and Hunt is one of the few left. Riley Finch, Target, 2.0/3.5 Top Teams: , , OSU keeps their lead, and it seems like Finch will be going to the Big Ten. Not much could have been done here, they had a lead from the start and they have kept it all the way. But, there is still time, and we have seen some big turnarounds this season, one in particular by the Redhawks that we have covered, so I'm not ruling anything out just yet. That's all for this week, thanks for tuning in to another instalment, and remember, if it's not MAC, it's wack!
  19. Last Week’s Results: 4-3 Season to Date: 55-15 Welcome back for yet another exciting (if brief) week of #MACtion! Along with special silent guest star Dennis Powell, I’m your host Bruce Baguen. This week Everyone's Favorite Conference takes it easy with only three games on the slate, and we begin our show as always with the lovely #MACtion Jenny: Friday Night Bowling Green (1-9 overall, 0-6 conference) at Buffalo (7-3, 4-3) Last Week: The Falcons’ offense couldn’t get things going in chilly Ypsilanti (L at 13-16), while Buffalo did whatever they wanted against NIU (W vs. 48-21). The Falcons defense held up its end of the bargain against EMU. Even with future first-round pick Brandon Thomas off the statsheet, the Bowling Green Sack Factory dropped Eagle QB Giovanni Shaw twice, picked him off twice more, and generally made life miserable for Eagle offensive players. That was probably one of the most complete Sack Factory performances on the season, made even more impressive by the fact that Thomas wasn't propping up the stats in a meaningful way - heck, two of the BGSU players on the sheet were members of the secondary which isn't an area we talk about much on BGSU's defense. They - and everyone else - will need to keep that up against a more potent offense waiting for them in upstate New York. Speaking of which, what an explosion by the Bulls last week! We saw the return of MAMADOU SMASH (24 carries for 168 yards, 2 TDs) who outrushed the entire NIU running game all by himself. Heck, QB Blair Holcomb (22 of 29 for 350 yards, 4/0 TD/INT) had more passing yards than the entire Huskie offense had TOTAL yards. As weird as it is to say, the Bulls were starting to look like a one-dimensional passing team so Mamadou Wynn's monster game will force the Falcons to respect the running game again and give Holcomb time to find wideouts Cristian Holguin (tied for second in the MAC with eight receiving touchdowns) and George Boyd (averaging over 16 yards per catch). When BGSU had the ball last week, things didn't go any better for their offense than it did for Eastern's. The Falcons turned the ball over to Eastern Michigan twice (to balance out their two takeaways); once on an Eddie Connolly interception and once on a Zack Odell fumble (his third, which leads the conference). For all that the Sack Factory did to give Bowling Green a chance to win, the offense just couldn't do much with those chances. The Falcon offensive line was just overmatched by EMU's front four and while the Buffalo defensive line doesn't have a wrecker like Shane Horton, the Bulls have a more solid front seven than the Eagles. BGSU has talent on their offensive line but haven't put it to good use much this year; they've only reached a 6.0 rating or better twice - against Colorado State and East Carolina. And if the Falcon line can't protect Connelly or open holes for their running attack, Buffalo safeties Omari Easley and Thomas Gordon (combined 57 tackles, 6 interceptions) will be happy to clean up after any hurried throws in their direction. Prediction: 38-21 We’re not seeing a reason to doubt the Bulls in this one. With that running game finally resembling the MAMADOU SMASH days of yore while still throwing the ball at will wherever they wanted, Buffalo should overwhelm the BGSU defense while slowing down the Falcon attack enough to secure the win. Ball State (1-9, 1-4) at Northern Illinois (1-9, 0-6) Last Week: The Cardinals showed some fight but came up short against Best!Miami (L vs. 35-44), while the Huskies couldn’t quite do the same against the Bulls (L at 21-48). Good news for the Huskie offense - someone else besides Daniel Hutchins (26 carries for 149 yards 1 TD, 1 FUM) showed up! Big TE Emory Johnson went 7 for 75 yards and two scores. The bad news: Take away what Hutchins and Johnson did and the rest of the NIU offense was not very good. QB Dwayne Curry had three interceptions and only 67 total yards when Johnson wasn't targeted, and WRs Dave Parker and Jasiah Christian had a drop apiece. It seems to be "two steps forward, two steps back" with everyone in this offense not named Hutchins. The battle will be between the Huskie offensive line and Cardinal DTs Rashaad Malcolm and Isamaeli Afamasaga. Malcolm in particular has really stepped it up lately with 14 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery in Ball State's last four games. This is basically the trend opposite to what NIU's line is doing - their rating hasn't broken 5.0 since week seven versus Eastern Michigan. The good news is that the Ball State linebacker is average as best; if the Huskie O-line can seal Malcolm and Afamasaga away long enough to let Hutchins through, we like his chances to pick up extra yards at the second level. 35 offensive points for the Cardinals last week sounds really good, but there are some caveats when looking deeper into their game against Best!Miami. The Ball State defense forced three turnovers from Miami QB Zack Cera, giving their offense favorable field position. And despite that they were down 34-7 at halftime, it took a LOT of deep throwing to get the score to its final state. Cardinal QB Elias Causey had his best game of the season (18 of 25 for 260 yards, 2/2 TD/INT, 5 carries for 9 yards, 1 rushing TD), while RB Austin Laws had good counting stat numbers (96 yards, 2 TDs) without good efficiency (3.99 ypc). WR Chan Pease (4 catches for 85 yards, 1 TD) and TE Siali McMullin (4 catches for 72 yards, 1 TD) averaged over 21.25 and 18 yards per catch respectively. That’s some efficiency, but it also reinforces the “gotta go deep” mentality Ball State had. We know the Cardinals’ offense has had this capability, is this something they can maintain without having to be down big? This isn’t fantasy football…. But NIU’s defense hasn’t exactly played to potential either. Their conference ranks in some defensive categories: Last in takeaways (2) Second-to-last in sacks (7), although they’ve played one more game than the lowest sack compilers (CMU) Second-worst in yards allowed per game (368.40) Last in offensive TDs allowed (36) Their best player, DT Russell Brandt (18 tackles, 2.0 sacks), has not made the same impact for his team the way Marlon Bailey or Shane Horton has. His linemate Thierno Thomas (8 tackles, 2.0 sacks) hasn’t taken advantage of Brandt’s presence. Teams don’t throw near NIU’s #1 CB Samuel Echols (19 tackles, 1 INT) and go after #2 CB Alpha Mitchell who has yet to make a stat sheet. The Huskies’ leading tackler, OLB Ivan Rosenberg (38 tackles), is their leading tackler because teams aren’t afraid to run plays right at him. There is talent to be found here but it’s hard to say what the remedy for NIU’s defensive woes is, outside of more seasoning and experience. Prediction: 21-20 We approached this game wondering which offense we trust more. The obvious answer is N. Illinois', featuring a pair of possible first-round picks in Daniel Hutchins and Emory Johnson, but the declining play of their offensive line is very concerning. Meanwhile, Ball State's offensive numbers weren't overly impressive despite the 35 points, and it's fair to wonder how much they would have scored if their defense didn't gift them with short fields. But we think that the Cardinal defense is the better of the two right now. They should prove to be more effective at stopping the NIU gameplan than the Huskie defense is at stopping Ball State’s - as long as they don’t let Johnson loose down the middle. Saturday Morning Toledo (7-3, 4-2) at Central Michigan (2-7, 2-3) Last Week: The Rockets came out on the wrong end of a sloppy game that decided the MAC West (L vs. 16-30), while CMU planned out its Senior Day festivities for the season's last home game, including standout CB A'Shawn Ellison (BYE). Well, we knew coming in that the Rockets’ biggest weakness on offense was the offensive line. Despite the good rating (6.3) last week, W. Michigan dropped QB Benjamin Hanson three times, stripped him of the ball, and just generally harassed him into his worst performance of the season (17 of 32 for 222 yards, 1/1 TD/INT, 1 Fumble Lost). Toledo’s right side of the line gets the majority of the blame: Against RG Dovid Mace and RT Jake Boyce, WMU’s Michael McKinney and Silas Booker combined for 10 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and Hanson’s fumble. CMU’s Nazir Tatum-Kimbrough hopes to continue that trend. The Chippewas will want to follow Western’s blueprint and have edge pressure shorten the amount of time Hanson has to diagnose and dissect the defense - unfortunately CMU ranks last in sacks with only six on the year. If there was ever a game that DEs Tatum-Kimbrough (17 tackles, 1 sack) and Rory Bolin (15 tackles, 2 sacks) needed to step up for, this is it. If Hanson does get the time, WRs Justin Evans (48 catches for 717 yards, 8 TDs) and Thomas Yang (42 catches for 624 yards, 6 TDs) have over half of Toledo’s receiving yards. Even with A’Shawn Ellison and his 3 INTs on the other side they’re not likely to be shut down. Oh, and there’s still 1000-yard rusher Gabe Ciamo in the backfield to deal with. He’s pretty good, we hear. You hear these phrases often: Run to set up the pass. Throw to set up the run. But perhaps no offense in the MAC has a more symbiotic relationship between the run and the pass than the Central Michigan Chippewas. When both QB Matt Rowland and RB Makai Carr combine for more than 300 yards, it means wins for the Chips. Their stats from both CMU wins: vs. E. Michigan: Matt Rowland, 15 of 23 for 230 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT. Makai Carr, 25 for 150 yards, 0 TD. 380 combined yards. vs. N. Illinois: Matt Rowland, 15 of 24 for 222 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT. Makai Carr, 23 for 101 yards, 1 TD. 323 combined yards. But that's only twice this season. More often than not, both facets aren't working well enough to reach that magic 300 number and it shows in a lot of stats: Second-worst offensive YPG in the MAC (266.33), while giving up over 40 YPG more to their opponents (306.44). -10 Sack Differential -6 Turnover differential Central needs to figure out how to keep a healthy run/pass balance, and it won't be easy this weekend. Toledo has the best defensive YPG average in the conference (281.50 YPG allowed), and it all starts up front with the Dwayne Brothers. DE Dwayne Briggs leads the team in sacks with 6.5 while DT Dwayne Montgomery (20 tackles, 1 sack) absorbs blockers, allowing the rest of the defensive front to make the play. CB Levern White (20 tackles, 5 INT, 1 TD) has really stepped up in his first year with Toledo, and when the Rockets' front and back ends are playing to their potential it covers Toledo's inexperience at LB very well. Redshirt freshmen Ryan Carr and Dennis Jarrett have been thrown into the fire and responded well for the most part but the teams that beat them presented enough playmakers to force Toledo to play more straight-up, then took advantage of the linebacking youth. We're not sure CMU has those pieces that command respect on the offensive side; TE Jasper Rowley has the skill but doesn't stretch the field down the middle (23 catches for 288 yards, 3 TDs). Prediction: 31-17 Toledo will no doubt want to make a statement, and it's a huge ask of the Chips defense to prevent that from happening. We expect to see a bigger dose - and a big day- of Gabe Ciamo in this one. BYES: Akron (7-3), Kent State (4-6), Miami (OH) (7-3), Ohio (7-3), Eastern Michigan (3-7), Western Michigan (9-1). On behalf of silent special guest star Dennis Powell and #MACtion Jenny, this is Bruce Baguen for the MAC Network ("If it's not MAC, it's wack"). Until next time!
  20. Last week: WMU bests Toledo in a sloppy MAC BATTLE OF THE CENTURY OF THE MONTH OF THE WEEK. The Redhawks and Bulls win score-fests against Ball State and NIU respectively. Eastern proves kicking is winning in a victory versus Bowling Green. The MAC got blanked in OOC play ahahaha nothing to see here! How did this affect the rankings? Let's find out: To the chart! (Remember, you should probably vote if you don't like your ranking. And play well. That too.) MAC Power Rankings After Week 13 Rank (Poll Pts.) Team (First Place Votes) Record (Conf. Record) Streak Change from Last Week 1 (72) Western Michigan Broncos (6) 9-1 (6-0) W8 - 2 (64) Ohio Bobcats 7-3 (6-0) L1 - 3 (58) Toledo Rockets 7-3 (4-2) L1 - 4 (53) Buffalo Bulls 7-3 (4-3) W1 +1 5 (49) Akron Zips 7-3 (4-2) L2 -1 6 (43) Miami (OH) Redhawks 7-3 (4-3) W1 - 7 (35) Kent State Golden Flashes 4-6 (3-6) L1 - 8 (28) Central Michigan Chippewas 2-7 (2-3) L2 - 9 (27) Eastern Michigan Eagles 3-7 (3-4) W1 - 10 (16) Bowling Green Falcons 1-9 (0-6) L7 - 11 (14) Ball State Cardinals 1-9 (1-5) L6 - 12 (6) Northern Illinois Huskies 1-9 (0-6) L6 - Number of voters: 6 12 points awarded for first, 11 for second, etc. Buffalo decided to cut in and start dancing with Akron. Now it's the Bulls' turn to trade places with the Zips while everyone else watches from the side and claps politely. Some savvy readers (by which we mean you of course, you handsome devil you) will notice that the vote margins have tightened in several spots though, most notable between the two Michigans in eighth and ninth places. With the MAC West now decided, all eyes turn to the MAC East race and Kent State's quest for bowl eligibility - or at least they will next week. This week is a slow one for everybody's favorite conference (three games) and none of them have any impact on the above topics. You should still watch though, because #MACtion. Bowl Watch! Who's going bowling this season, who's almost there, and who will be watching a lot of ESPN in December and January? Let's take a look! Bowl-Eligible: Akron (7-3), Buffalo (7-3), Miami (OH) (7-3), Ohio (7-3), Toledo (7-3), W. Michigan (9-1) Eligible with win this week: None Missing out on Bowl Season with a loss this week: None Definitely watching Bowl Season from the couch: Ball State (1-9), Bowling Green (1-9), C. Michigan (2-7), E. Michigan (3-7), N. Illinois (1-9)
  21. Last Week’s Results: 5-0 Season to Date: 51-12 Welcome back for yet another exciting week of #MACtion! Along with special silent guest star Hong-Chih Kuo, I’m your host Bruce Baguen. This week #MACtion makes itself even more comfy on Saturday, and the MAC tries to prevent a sweep at the hands of some visitors from Oxford. But first, if you'll please direct your attention to #MACtion Jenny: Thursday Night Bowling Green (1-8 overall, 0-5 conference) at Eastern Michigan (2-7, 2-4) Last Week: The Falcons came close but couldn’t overcome their Owl birdbros (L vs. 26-31), while the Eagles just couldn’t hang with the Bobcats (L vs. 17-44) We’re really excited to see EMU’s best player DT Shane Horton (24 tackles, 5.0 sacks) against Bowling Green’s best offensive lineman, LG Derrick Briggs. If the Falcons want to run their option attack successfully Horton will need to be neutralized, and that will be on Briggs with the occasional assist from center Jonas Zambrano. The dual-headed running threat of Connelly and Odell is so crucial for Bowling Green to not only to move the chains, but to open up the passing game. Despite having one of the less impressive receiving groups in the MAC the Falcons rank in the upper half of the conference in passing yards and TDs, and Connelly is aggressive in attacking any space he sees between his receivers and the defender. That aggression cuts both ways (double digits in both TDs and INTs), so FS Zachary Dumas could notch his first interception of the season here. When Eastern has the ball, things get more predictable. QB Giovanni Shaw has only broken the 200-yard mark in the air once this season. Last week against Ohio was the first time he threw 30 passes, and that was due to falling behind early. It didn’t end well for Shaw - a 16 of 30 for 150 yard, 1 TD, 3 INT performance is not going in his highlight reel any time soon. EMU has the second lowest passing yardage in the MAC, and if NIU didn’t try smashmouth for a week the Eagles would likely be the lowest. It’s difficult to implement a passing game based on play-action when stopping the run doesn’t command any extra defenders. It feels like RB Jamel Jamison gets most of his yards after contact; his O-line has a conference-worst 4.29 rating and doesn’t seem terribly proficient in opening holes for him. This is not good news for Shaw, who can expect to see a lot of OLB Brandon Thomas (41 tackles, 5.0 sacks) bearing down on him. TE Amir Nixon, EMU’s leading receiver (29 rec for 383 yards, 2 TDs), will have to do more work himself to provide a target for Shaw. We don’t expect that the Falcons will send extra help to bottle up the Eagle running game, so there probably won’t be many seams schemed open for Nixon. Prediction: 28-17 Eastern Michigan’s conservative offense won’t score many points on their own and if Horton can be contained, the Eagle defense won’t be able to provide the short fields and time they need to score. Barring several Bowling Green miscues (such as a Zack Odell fumble or two), the Falcons should win this going away. Northern Illinois (1-8, 0-5) at Buffalo (6-3, 3-3) Last Week: The Huskies again faded in the second half of their contest (L vs 24-38), while the Bulls turn their focus to jockeying to a better bowl berth. (BYE) NIU is getting closer. But they haven’t yet figured out how to get back into games, and that’s because they haven’t figured out how to throw the ball effectively. This is the combined statline of their QB position this season: 116 of 210 (55.2%) for 1286 yards, 142.89 YPG. 5/15 TD/INT ratio, 100.25 QBR. For goodness’ sake, they have only 165 more team passing yards than rushing on the season! For all the good work that Daniel Hutchins has done (216 carries for 1066 rushing yards, 4.94 YPC, 11 TDs), there’s only so much he can do when facing eight and nine-man boxes. The Huskies’ QB, whether Dwayne Curry or Charlie Sanford, haven’t proven that they can make defenses consistently pay for stacking the line of scrimmage and until they do it will be more of the same. It doesn’t help that Buffalo is solid across their defensive line and that their linebacking corps is their strongest unit. True freshman OLB Alexander Moffett is the Bulls’ leading tackler (31 tackles, 1 INT, 1 sack), look for him to cover TE Emory Johnson when he isn’t making stops. It also helps to have thumper Thomas Gordon hitting anyone who dares come near him with the ball. Is there any team in the country that has changed their offensive identity as much as Buffalo over the last two years? This year’s Bulls are the MAC’s third-best in passing yardage, and third-WORST in rushing yardage. Do you get cognitive dissonance reading that sentence? Then you remember last season’s “run the ball till you die” MAMADOU SMASH-fueled offense, where ten+ passing attempts was a disaster of the higher magnitude. This is certainly not those Bulls, with QB Blair Holcomb (182 of 287 (63.41%) for 2322 yards, 21/5 TD/INT) driving the offense and RB Mamadou Wynn (178 carries for 827 yards (4.65 YPC), 11 TDs) taking a secondary role. WR Christian Holguin (34 rec for 523 yards, 6 TDs) and TE Xavier Frey (31 rec for 503 yards, 6 TDs) are Holcomb’s primary targets, but WR George Boyd (31 rec for 469 yards, 2 TDs) also gets in the mix. NIU may find themselves often using all three of their cornerbacks on the field simultaneously. Yes, NIU only has three CBs listed on the depth chart, with no FS or SS behind them. Some Huskie interior pressure would be welcomed in order to relieve the burdens placed on a young linebacking corps and DT Russell Brandt has responded (18 tackles, 2 sacks) while DT Thierno Thomas has just started finding his groove - his 4 tackles and 2 sacks on the season all occurred during the Weeks 10 and 11 games. Prediction: 34-14 Buffalo is just too strong on both offense and defense for the Huskies to handle, and it doesn’t help that NIU has played as a collection of individual parts instead of as the sum of them. The Huskie coaching staff could very well be using the rest of this season to try different schemes and tactics out. Ole Miss (4-5) at Kent State (4-5): non-conference (NOTE: shortened due to time constraints, sorry.) Last Week: Ole Miss got to hear PAWWWWWWWL talk all about their loss (L at 17-31), while Kent State moved a step closer to bowl eligibility (W at 38-24). This is OIe Miss' second go-around at a MAC team, having dispatched Ball State earlier this year. We don't expect the Rebels to change their formula from the first time; Marquise Laws will chuck the ball early and often to WR Geno Harris (56 rec for 717 yards, 4 TDs) and TE Hunter King (50 rec for 749 yards, 7 TDs). Sometimes Laws will run the ball himself (51 carries for 343 yards, 6 TDs) to see if they can catch the Golden Flash defenders with their heads turned, and RB Caleb Easley will get ample goal-line carries as needed (180 carries for 697 yards, 11 TDs). Junior MLB Markus Golden is having quite the season (55 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT) and may heed the siren song of early declaration. He's easily the best player on Ole Miss' defense, but he's close to the only one that has the caliber and experience. If promising youngsters FS Shane McCrary and OLB Gabriel Keene have off days, Kent State can do some real damage forcing Golden to cover sideline-to-sideline by directing traffic to the outside. Look for Kent receivers Iye Parris and Thaddues Torrez to have good days. Prediction: 37-31 Kent State's defense has to be a team effort, and there are just too many variables on the Rebel offense to shut them down completely. We don't see an area on this side of the ball that the Golden Flashes can win one-on-one battles, and that's a shame because Garland and Co. can make some serious hay against an Ole Miss defense weak around the edges. (Friday/Saturday games to follow.)
  22. Welcome back to the MAC Network, I am your host Tim Timms, and we are back with another week of recruiting here on the MAC Recruiting Recap Show, and JUCO recruiting will begin this week, so there is excitement in the air! 14 recruits this week, with two 4.0 prospects, two 3.5 prospects, 4 3.0s and 6 2.5s. Most teams are looking to bring in depth at this stage, but some teams, as we will see when we look at our recruiting battles, are managing to bring in solid starting talent near the end of the campaign. Western Michigan keeps building a highly rated and diverse class, and Ohio adds to their top end. Toledo makes up for lost time by signing 4 2.5s this week just to make some semblance of a class for this year. The table is shaken up by Toledo again who go from number four to number 12, as their mass signings do them no good. Ohio keeps their high talent class, and Western Michigan and Kent State share the number 4 spot, having the same number of recruits and the same average potential. Bowling Green leaves the bottom only due to Toledo's massive fall, but I'm sure they will take it. Total Recruits Team 2.5-Star 3-Star 3.5-Star 4-Star 4.5-Star 5-Star Total Tot. Stars Avg. Stars 6 Ohio 0 1 2 1 1 1 6 23.5 3.92 5 Buffalo 0 0 3 1 1 0 5 19 3.8 6 Miami (OH) 0 1 1 4 0 0 6 22.5 3.75 12 Western Michigan 0 3 5 2 1 1 12 44 3.67 12 Kent State 0 1 7 3 1 0 12 44 3.67 4 Northern Illinois 0 1 2 0 1 0 4 14.5 3.63 11 Ball State 0 4 5 1 1 0 11 38 3.45 13 Central Michigan 0 6 4 2 1 0 13 44.5 3.42 16 Eastern Michigan 1 7 6 0 0 1 16 53.5 3.34 17 Akron 3 5 7 1 1 0 17 55.5 3.26 11 Bowling Green 3 7 0 1 0 0 11 32.5 2.95 6 Toledo 5 0 0 0 0 0 6 17.5 2.92 Western Michigan (Class rank: 41) +1 Ohio (Class rank: 62) +10 Kent State (Class rank: 65) -3 Central Michigan (Class rank: 76) +0 Akron (Class rank: 77) +0 Eastern Michigan (Class rank: 82) -1 Miami (OH) (Class rank: 90) +11 Ball State (Class rank: 91) +2 Buffalo (Class rank: 92) -2 Toledo (Class rank: 103) +0 Northern Illinois (Class rank: 107) -1 Bowling Green (Class rank: 112) +0 In the interview portion, I was able to speak with SodapopSeth, the only other remaining coach apart from deathcpo from the conference's innaugural season. We discussed Tim Timms: Great to have you here coach. Coach SodapopSeth: No worries. Tim Timms: Many were intrigued by your signing of Blair Holcomb in JUCO recruiting last year based on your identity at the time as a run first team. How do you think he has helped this team this year, and how he will help next year when Mamadou Wynn graduates at the end of this year? Coach SodapopSeth: Oh, he has been phenomenal at shifting the focus of the team away from Mamadou, allowing him to really shine in the offense. When Mamadou leaves, I can't wait to see how Blair does when we let him go wild with his own offense. It's kind of a balancing act now, but next year, woo, watch out. Tim Timms: Any thoughts on your recruiting class this year? Any reasons for the small number of recruits compared to some other teams like Akron, Eastern Michigan and Kent State? Coach SodapopSeth: We haven't had the best year, to be frank, but the guys we have pulled in slot nicely into our system. I was gunning for high skill guys, a boom or bust kind of mentality and it failed me and the team this year. Tim Timms: What has been the biggest surprise for you this year, for example a player's performance or a certain aspect of your team? Coach SodapopSeth: Our offensive line has held especially firm this year, and I am incredibly proud of our guys down in the trenches. Without them, we'd probably be stuck in the bottom of the conference right now. I'm really gonna miss them next year. Tim Timms: There was talk of Buffalo being in the contention for being ranked, receiving a few votes in the Coaches Poll. This week Buffalo has disappeared from the list, and the team that beat you last week, Akron, are now receiving votes. Do you take this as a positive or motivation moving forward? Coach SodapopSeth: That's what happens when you lose close games. I'm still seething a bit from our last loss but there's nothing that we can do but put our heads down, dig in, and power through. Now to the recruits. Some new signings this week, and so we will bring in a couple of new ones onto the show. WR Ajani Jennings, Target, 1.0/4.0 Top Teams: , Despite all the positivity for the Eagles, Michigan State never fell out of the race, and now that they have resources free they used them on Jennings, getting neck and neck with EMU. This might spell the end of Jamzz's hopes of grabbing a big target for Shaw CB Cooper Rainey, Man Coverage, 1.0/4.0 Top Teams: (signed) Ohio went from being behind for a while, to being even, and now being the lead dog in the race, getting Rainey's commitment this past week. An important position for both teams, but Ohio manages to take another Corner this class, hoping to strengthen a position group that is a weakness in almost all MAC teams. OT Felix McCormick, Pass Blocking, 1.0/4.0 Top Teams: (signed) Miami wins this one as Kent State drops out hoping to pursue other recruits in less-red pastures. Miami played this one very well, almost falling out and then the next week taking a commanding lead. The Redhawks are not well rated in the national rankings, but 4 4.0 potential players with two on the O-line and two in the back seven, this team will continue to be a presence in the MAC. DE David Hunt, Contain, 1.0/3.5 Top Teams: , , Not so boring anymore! Toledo jumps into a small lead over Kent State, who left this battle alone while focusing on McCormick. This could be another one that comes back to bite them for not locking it up earlier. The Irish are still nonexistent in this competition, but now the Rockets have pole position. This will be one to keep an eye on. Riley Finch, Target, 2.0/3.5 Top Teams: , , The Buckeyes jump to a comfortable lead as they push past the instate Redhawks and the out of state Chips. It seems the only way that Finch is coming to the MAC is if that Miami wants him, as the resources they were using on McCormick are now freed up. And that's it for this week, thanks for tuning in to another MAC Recruiting Recap Show. And remember, if it's not MAC, it's wack! Thank you to @SodapopSethfor the interview.
  23. Last week: WMU and Ohio have decisive wins. The Redhawks achieve bowl eligibility. Kent State is STILL tired of power runners rampaging through their defense, but managed to win anyway and keep bowl dreams alive. How did this affect the rankings? Let's find out: To the chart! (Remember, you should probably vote if you don't like your ranking. And play well. That too.) MAC Power Rankings After Week 12 Rank (Poll Pts.) Team (First Place Votes) Record (Conf. Record) Streak Change from Last Week 1 (72) Western Michigan Broncos (6) 8-1 (5-0) W7 - 2 (66) Ohio Bobcats 7-2 (6-0) W6 - 3 (59) Toledo Rockets 7-2 (4-1) W1 +1 4 (53) Akron Zips 7-2 (4-2) L1 -1 5 (49) Buffalo Bulls 6-3 (3-3) L1 - 6 (43) Miami (OH) Redhawks 6-3 (3-3) W1 - 7 (36) Kent State Golden Flashes 4-5 (3-6) W1 - 8 (29) Central Michigan Chippewas 2-7 (2-3) L2 - 9 (22) Eastern Michigan Eagles 2-7 (2-4) L2 - 10 (19) Bowling Green Falcons 1-8 (0-5) L6 - 11 (14) Ball State Cardinals 1-8 (1-4) L5 - 12 (6) Northern Illinois Huskies 1-8 (0-5) L5 - Number of voters: 6 12 points awarded for first, 11 for second, etc. And the Ohio two-step continues with Toledo and Akron. Following the Zips' loss to W. Michigan they trade spots with the Rockets again, while everyone else stays where they're at. The ranked (!) MAC teams (!!pluralZOMG1!1!!) stay at the top of the chart and below the dancing Ohio teams Buffalo and Best!Miami settle in. At this point it's very clear that there are two tiers to these rankings and that the teams in them aren't likely to change, only their placement inside of them. Looking forward to the rest of the season, there are three big story lines to follow: Who wins the MAC East, Ohio or Akron? Ohio has a huge advantage and is likely to repeat as MAC East champs. Akron must win both remaining conference games (@Toledo, vs. Ohio) AND hope that CMU upsets the Bobcats in week 15. Who wins the MAC West, Toledo or W. Michigan? Barring any upsets in week 14-16, this week's game between the Rockets and the Broncos is a virtual winner-take-all for the division. Going past this game Toledo has the harder remaining slate (@CMU, Akron) than WMU (Ball St., @EMU). Will Kent State achieve bowl eligibility? Reply hazy, try again later. This is pretty much scenario we expected: The Golden Flashes need to take two of three from Ole Miss, Best!Miami, and Central Michigan. Here's hoping they can get that crucial fifth win this weekend against the Rebels! Bowl Watch! Who's going bowling this season, who's almost there, and who will be watching a lot of ESPN in December and January? Let's take a look! Bowl-Eligible: Akron (7-1), Buffalo (6-3), Miami (OH) (6-3), Ohio (6-2), Toledo (7-1), W. Michigan (7-1) Eligible with win this week: None Missing out on Bowl Season with a loss this week: None Definitely watching Bowl Season from the couch: Ball State (1-8), Bowling Green (1-8), C. Michigan (2-7), E. Michigan (2-7), N. Illinois (1-8)
  24. Now that we're closer to the end of the CFBHC season than to the beginning, talk naturally starts concerning who has played the best and deserving of various things; Awards, Playoff Births, Gas Vouchers, etc. Unfortunately our budget here at the MAC Network ("If it's not MAC, it's wack!") won't allow us to hand out vouchers, and it's a little too soon to talk MAC Playoffs. So what we can do is talk about some players deserving of individual awards that may have escaped the notice of the general CFBHC realm. NOTE: Just because a player doesn't show up here does NOT mean they're having a bad season. It just means they don't look to be within realistic spitting distance of the top contenders. *spoiler alert* For example, no MAC RBs will be profiled in this section despite 's Daniel Hutchins, 's Owen Walton, and 's DeSean Madison having over 1000 yards and double-digit TDs already. But stack them next to Florida's Ethan Newby, who has 1253 rushing yards and 19 TDs or LSU's Jayden Huff, who has 1133 yards and 18 TDs and it's hard to make a realistic case for them. But the does have players who have a case for national individual awards! Without further ado.... (NOTE: All statistics are through nine games) John Mackey Award: top tight end: Casey Swann, (So), Miami (OH). 54 catches for 693 yards (12.83 ypc), 8 TDs. Swann's emergence as a reliable receiver for the FLAMETHROWER ZACK CERA sparked a remarkable resurgence for the Redhawks, who have already tripled their win total from last year and will surely earn a bowl invitation this year. While built more like a WR than a traditional TE (6'1" 206), Swann uses tremendous footwork and body positioning skills to do work over the middle of the field. With two more years of eligibility for both Cera and Swann, MAC defenses will get tired of dealing with this combination over and over and over. Jim Parker Trophy: top offensive lineman: Marcus Waterman, Sr, Buffalo. Offensive line has a 6.13 rating, allowed 7 sacks. The Bulls have traditionally had the best offensive line in the MAC, and this year isn't that different. Waterman and his fellow hogs' seven sacks allowed are the lowest figure in the conference, and he's primarily responsible for keeping QB Blair Holcomb upright as he guards his quarterback's blind side. Waterman has a good shot at hearing his name called early in next year's NFLHC draft. Bronko Nagurski Trophy: top defensive player Bill Willis Trophy: top defensive lineman Rotary Lombardi Award: top defensive lineman/linebacker Outland Trophy: top interior lineman on either offense or defense: DT Marlon Bailey, (Jr), Akron. 44 tackles, 6.0 sacks. Defensive tackle isn't a position that traditionally gets a lot of attention for the Rotary Lombardi or the Nagurski, but big Marlon Bailey absolutely should receive consideration for all of them and then some. The "Eater of Worlds" was tabbed in the pre-season as a player to watch, but he's absolutely exceeded those expectations. One of the biggest reasons for the best season in Zips history to date is that their defense leads the conference in sacks with 19.0, and that all begins with Bailey. If this is his last season in an Akron uniform, then Bailey should enter the NFL with a shiny trophy or two under his arm. Jack Lambert Trophy: top linebacker: OLB Brandon Thomas, Jr, Bowling Green. 41 tackles, 5.0 sacks. Bowling Green's been a bit of a mess this season with all the coaching chaos and whatnot. But the one player who never let it get to them was Thomas. He was expected to be the centerpiece of a revamped Bowling Green Sack Factory, but his five sacks double the amount anyone else on the team has - instead of the Sack Factory's centerpiece, he's virtually the only worker there. Coach @Popadom17 is hoping he can convince Thomas to stick around for 2021 and help Bowling Green go, well, bowling. Jim Thorpe Award: top defensive back: CB Levern White, Jr, Toledo. 15 Tackles, 4 INT, 1 TD. SS Thomas Gordon, Jr, Buffalo. 30 Tackles, 3 INT. CB A'Shawn Ellison, Sr, C. Michigan. 15 Tackles, 3 INT, 1 TD. CB Sean Taylor, (Jr), W. Michigan. 15 Tackles, 3 INT, 1 TD. Let's be clear. There are a lot of other secondary candidates with similar numbers to our cornerback trio we could put in here, and they all lag behind the SEC's Thorpe candidate David Triplett (27 tackles, 6 INT) numbers-wise. So why focus in on them? They've all taken one back to the house for starters, and each of them is a huge cog in their team's defenses. With a hot spell or two their numbers could become award-worthy, so we can't write them off just yet. A'Shawn Ellison is by far the Chippewas' best defender, and the biggest reason why Central Michigan ranks third in the MAC in passing yards allowed (182.78). The Chips are also the only MAC team to surrender less passing TDs (11) than rushing TDs (15). Who ranks first in passing yards allowed? Toledo (171.89 ypg). It looked like Adam Haywood would be the hot Rocket CB to watch coming into this season, but Levern White has used his superior change-of-direction skills and aggression to punish offenses that test him one too many times. Speaking of dynamic, Sean Taylor hasn't quite had the numbers this season to back up his preseason All-American nomination. But there isn't a player in a MAC secondary that offensive coordinators pay more attention to than Taylor. In his WMU career, Taylor has 14 interceptions. An incredible 6 of them have been returned for touchdowns. Buffalo's Thomas Gordon isn't worried about scoring, he just wants to introduce himself to the ball repeatedly - and if there happens to be an offensive player between him and the ball, so much the better. Whenever Gordon shows up on the box score, you know it's because he's making a statement; the only time he didn't record an interception was when he made nine tackles in the game. Talk about impact! Lou Groza Award: top placekicker: K Timmy Wilhelm, Sr, Ohio. 20/21 FGs made (95.24%), long 46. Meet the all-time leader in MAC Player of the Week awards! Bobcat fans know what it's like to see your kicker trot onto the field and feel relief and confidence, and they've been blessed to place their trust in TIMMAY for several seasons now. Wilhelm's only miss came from 46, so it certainly wasn't a gimme that he choked on. K Harry DeMarco, (Fr), W. Michigan. 20/20 FGs made (100.00%), long 47. That feeling of relief and confidence in your kicker? It's something Bronco fans happily are getting used to and they hope to continue it for three more seasons after this one. The redshirt freshman from Pottsboro, TX has been a revelation for WMU, especially considering a couple of games this year where the Bronco margin of victory rested on DeMarco's right foot. Special: Burlsworth Trophy: top player with a current skill of 3.0 or less We're going to be stricter than the guideline above and mention only players with a potential of 3.5 or less. Otherwise, that's no fun. RB Makai Carr, (Jr), C. Michigan. (2.5 of 3.5) 189 carries for 823 yards, 5 TDs. CB Richard Roberts, (SR), Kent State. (3.0 of 3.0) 14 tackles, 4 INT. CB Shamar McClendon, Sr, Miami (OH). (3.0 of 3.0) 14 tackles, 2 INT, 1 TD OLB Raymond Smith, (SO), Akron. (3.0 of 3.5) 28 tackles, 1 INT, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF
  25. Last Week's pick record: 5-1 Overall pick record: 46-12 Welcome back for yet another exciting week of #MACtion! Along with special silent guest star Roy Corcoran, I’m your host Bruce Baguen. This week we welcome some visitors from the Lone Star State, and #MACtion continues to grace prime time! But first, if you'll please direct your attention to #MACtion Jenny: Thursday Night Rice (5-3) at Bowling Green (1-7): non-conference Last Week: The Owls were fortunate to leave Houston for Ohio before Harvey came and shut everything down, so the Falcons got to show their Bird Bros around the town early. At least the Car Museum was pretty cool! (Both on BYE) This is the MAC’s first look at C-USA West leading Rice and their Sophomore QB sensation Eric McLean. The Falcons kinda wish their view wasn’t quite so close. McLean drives the Owls’ offense, throwing for nearly 300 yards a game and sporting a shiny 23/4 TD/INT ratio. His primary target is big wideout Keith Triplett, all 6’5”, 223 pounds of him. Triplett has the majority of the catches and yards, but he trails his fellow tall WR (6’3”) Jamir Irving in TDs. Triplett (47 rec. for 644 yards, 6 TDs), Irving (38 rec. for 543 yards, 7 TDs), and TE Jamari Redmond (39 rec. for 506 yards, 5 TDs) receive the vast majority of looks from McLain and will receive most of the attention from the Bowling Green back seven. Lead back Nate Wooten has six TDs, but less than sixty rushing yards per game. The Falcons’ defense isn’t likely to worry about him until Rice gets to the red zone. We’ve highlighted Bowling Green’s less-than-optimal cornerback group before (though to be fair the same designation could apply to a lot of MAC defenses), and the Owl passing attack is definitely not one we expect the Falcon pass defense to handle on their own. The good news for the BGSU secondary is that with the safeties and linebacking group free to watch the receivers and tight ends their zone defense should be more effective and the Owls’ height advantage mitigated somewhat. Well, except for OLB Brandon Thomas. If he drops into coverage on a regular basis that portends bad things for the Falcons. He’s the only one on the team putting any type of consistent pressure on the QB, and they’ll need him to rattle the young signal caller if they don’t want to be picked apart. If Thomas can make McLean reset his feet often it could buy time. An additional facet to this game is that Rice’s offensive line has been okay at best this year. Their average O-line rating is 5.23, and that’s even after facing and blowing out a couple of winless teams in Louisiana Tech and UAB. The relative strength of this line is also concentrated on the interior, so Thomas and LDE Malachi McKnight could find some paths to the QB. The Owls defense centers around true freshman MLB Andres Arriaga. Between Arriaga and Virginia’s Soldier Brooks MAC teams are getting unfortunate looks at elite true freshman linebackers, and Arriaga is definitely playing well beyond his years right now (56 tackles, 1 INT). He anchors a linebacking corps that is the strength of the Owls’ stop unit. Rice seems to play a defense that funnels opposing offenses to that group, with a pair of 300+ pound tackles that are primarily there to soak up blocks and defensive ends that can set the edges but don’t contribute much more. Having said all that, we expect the Falcons try and impose their will on the ground anyway. The Owls secondary is young but talented, and we think the BGSU O-line will win its fair share of battles on the line of scrimmage. Bowling Green would best be served by using their option game to avoid the middle of the field, string out, and then wear down Arriaga and the Owl front seven. If all goes well for the Falcons TE Marquise Mayo will probably see most of the passes from Eddie Connelly. Prediction: 31-28 This could actually be a LOT closer game that people expect, we actually started to lean towards a Bowling Green upset as we were doing our research. Rice is weak on both lines of scrimmage and can get pushed around quite a bit (next year, though... woof, those redshirts). Unfortunately for the Falcons, @Bubada is one of the better coaches in the country and @Popadom17 is one of the newest - he's learning quickly but this is a steep test. It's this disparity in coaching experience that has us leaning towards the visitors. Kent State (3-5 overall, 2-3 conference) at Northern Illinois (1-7, 0-4) Last Week: The Golden Flashes were unable to keep up their mojo against the Bobcats (L at 13-23), while NIU stayed within two scores of Virginia! Then the second half started…. (L at 14-40) As stated elsewhere, Kent State seems to have a real issue with stopping power runners. Perhaps it's because the vast majority of their front seven is more proficient at rushing passers, but they've had a bad time lately against the bruisers in the MAC. We've obtained footage of some Kent State defenders after the game last week where Owen. Freaking. WALTON went 26 for 124, 1 TD against them: (Fun fact: Mufasa is Swahili for Owen Walton.) And then back in Week 8, DeSean Madison galloped 26 times for 128 yards and 2 TDs. (Fun fact: Mufasa is also Zulu for DeSean Madison.) So now conference leader in rushing YPG Daniel Hutchins (934 yards, 9 TDs, 116.75 YPG) takes his shot. Oh boy! If there's any solace Kent State can take in this matchup, it's that they can probably focus 99.999% on stopping the run and move SS Quinn Benson next to the line of scrimmage. Dwayne Curry continues to struggle as the Huskies' QB, posting a QBR under 100 for the season (not breaking 200 passing yards in any game and a 3/10 TD/INT ratio will do that for you). TE Emory Johnson has big-play talent and leads all NIU receivers with 399 receiving yards and 2 receiving TDs, but has only broken 50 yards twice this season. So if you're a fan of rugby scrums where a lot of people just bull into each other, the Kent State defense/NIU offense half might be for you! (Fun question: Is Mufasa also Yoruba for Daniel Hutchins?) John Garland will have to be careful. WRs Thaddeus Torrez and Iye Parris are matched up against one of the better CB pairings in the conference, although the stats don't bear that out (#1 CB Samuel Echols has 10 tackles and 1 INT, #2 CB Alpha Mitchell has yet to make a sheet). As a matter of fact, why IS NIU so poor at takeaways? They only have two interceptions on the year despite a talented defensive depth chart. It could be the secondary scheme fit; the corners are comfortable in a zone scheme while the safeties prefer man coverage - that's an awkward mix. It could be the inexperience of the linebackers; 2 freshman and a sophomore. Whatever the reason, it's something the Huskie coaches will struggle to correct through the rest of the season. Back to Kent State' offense: TE Jaeden Salazar (31 rec for 413, 2 TDs) has started getting more work as Garland becomes more comfortable throwing over the linebackers, but the Kent State rushing attack isn't full-on chopped liver. "Ol' Reliable" FB/RB Harrison Mullin will get you about 60-90 yards a game and usually a touchdown per game - he's only failed to find the end zone twice this season. Garland can still run the ball a bit too, chipping in with another three scores on the ground. Those totals aren't the most impressive, but they've been good enough to force some defensive respect and give the passing game some room. We expect that canny mix-ups of the run/pass option game can exploit the NIU linebackers' youth. Prediction: 27-17 The Huskies have the superior athletes, but haven’t been able to get any of them to perform to expectations (Daniel Hutchins excepted) this year. But mostly it's NIU’s [comment redacted] QB play that makes us think the Golden Flashes’ more cohesive team will win out in the end. Miami (OH) (5-3, 2-3) at Central Michigan (2-6, 2-2) Last Week: The Redhawks regroup and take a second shot at bowl eligibility (BYE), while the Chips put up a good fight but ultimately fell short (L at 17-20). Let’s start with the easy half of the ball; we know Best!Miami will throw. The FLAMETHROWER ZACK CERA has indeed been hot this year; 298 passing yards per game and a 22/5 TD/INT ratio pace the MAC. This team is built around his right arm, and that arm is busy - Cera averages 44 passes a game. (We can neither confirm nor deny rumors that RB Ajani Garrett’s handoffs come only when Cera needs to rest his arm a bit.) While you expect the Redhawk leading receivers to be their top two WRs and the tight end, you may not expect their best one to be the tight end. Casey Swann (49 rec. for 635 yards, 7 TDs) leads the MAC in receiving yards and touchdowns per game - as a tight end. His emergence forces defenses to stop bracketing Kenneth Harrison and Keith Barnes, and now that Cera doesn’t have to force the ball so much his interception numbers are well down from last year (13 in 2019, on pace for 8 this year). Fortunately for Central, their best players on defense are on positions that can directly impact that passing game - DE and CB. Senior CB A’Shawn Ellison and Sophomore DE Nazir Tatum-Kimbrough set the tone for the Chips, although Tatum-Kimbrough (17 tackles, 1 sack) has fallen off his 6-sack pace from last year. Tatum-Kimbrough and fellow DE Rory Bolin can make some hay against the Redhawk offensive line though; despite one of the better line ratings in the MAC Miami is tied for most sacks allowed (14). Part of that is on Cera, who will hang in the pocket attempting to go to his third or fourth reads. If the back seven can hold up long enough to force him to make extended progressions, he can get sacked. So, about that other side of the ball. CMU went conservative against Western Michigan, dialing down the pass attempts to avoid Sean Taylor and Jaylin McQueen and leaning more on RB Makai Carr. Carr had a good day (24 rushes for 100 yards, 1 TD), but the Chips found themselves down 14 entering the 4th quarter and just not enough time to come back. All of that to say that we don’t expect the same plan against a cornerback duo that isn’t as scary, even if safeties Nicholas Mingo and Kristian Isaac are pretty good. QB Matt Rowland will likely be asked to throw down the field a bit more, certainly more than the 5.26 yards per attempt he put up last week. The vast majority of CMU receiving yardage come courtesy of WR Mendy Schofield (25 rec for 325 yards) and TE Jasper Rowley (19 rec for 244 yards, 3 TDs), and we expect Miami’s coverage to roll their way accordingly. Remember earlier we mentioned Best!Miami is tied for giving up the most amount of sacks in the conference? CMU is one of those teams they’re tied with, and their O-line rating is the conference’s second worst. Redhawk defensive ends Donte Pennel and Jabari Hilliard have three sacks apiece, and this week may be a good time for them to pad those totals. But they’ll need to be careful to not abandon their run responsibilities, Carr has reeled off three straight 100-yard games now. How the Redhawks choose to deploy their linebackers will be instrumental in determining the winner on this side of the ball. Prediction: 38-20 Kenneth Harrison vs. A’Shawn Ellison is a tasty matchup, but Harrison is actually Best!Miami’s third leading receiver this season. Casey Swann and Keith Barnes will feast on crispy passes from the FLAMETHROWER ZACK CERA due to not having Ellison’s attention on them. We don’t think the Chippewa offense will ultimately be able to keep pace, even if the gameplan calls for more Rowland dropbacks. (Friday/Saturday games to follow.)
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