Week one is in the books for the 2019 football season. It wasn’t the most thrilling weekend of football for the MAC. Everything went about to script. No FCS upsets, never a guarantee, and also no power five upsets.
Some starting quarterbacks were debuted, including Bret Gabbert who played above his age. This is a big-picture recap of the first slate of games in the MAC schedule. Enjoy!
Morgan State 3 – Bowling Green 46
Darius Wade was given the first chance to establish himself as the starter under new head coach Scot Loeffler. He did not waste it. He threw for 253 yards and 3 touchdowns in the win against Morgan State.
The Bowling Green defense didn’t look like the team that struggled the entire year last season. They forced six three and outs on Thursday. Morgan State wanted to run the ball, 27 rushes vs 13 passes and averaged 3.1 yards with sacks removed. The sacks were devastating, 4 for a loss of 39 yards.
Robert Morris 10 – Buffalo 38
The Bulls defense forced a three and out in the opening drive of the season, and Theo Anderson blocked the fourth down punt with his head. That was how this game was going to go for the Colonials. The Bull defense forced the Colonials off the field, only 6 of 15 third downs were converted.
On offense, Matt Myers got the start at quarterback. He only threw 10 passes, completed 5 of them. Two went to the endzone. Most of the work was done by sophomore running back Jaret Patterson. He picked up 90 yards on 12 carries on Thursday.
Albany 21 – Central Michigan 38
Quinten Dormady claimed his starting role against Albany on Thursday. He completed 27 of 37 passes and 285 yards, after a shaky start. Jonathan Ward also returned from injury and with a bang. He ran for 158 yards, had 53 yards receiving, and found the endzone twice.
The Chippewa defense was good enough but not stellar against the Great Danes. The Danes found some success in the air, about 7 yards per pass. Central Michigan had zero sacks on 29 dropbacks. They did shut down the run, and that got them the win.
Kent State 7 – Arizona State 30
The Fighting Herms controlled the entire game in the only power five matchup the MAC had on the opening night. The offense for Kent State never got going. They couldn’t keep a drive going and throwing for 3.3 yards per pass was the specific issue.
On the other side, Kent State defense did a decent job containing the run but could not contain the freshman quarterback. The Kent State defense allowed 11.8 yards per attempt. They got stuck in some bad field position spots and overall held their own. That group might be the strength of the team this season.
Toledo 24 – Kentucky 38
Mitchell Guadagni was removed from the game after a hit in the third quarter that knocked his helmet off. The defender was ejected for targetting. The game was 17-24 at that time. After that, the Rocket drives went: 4 plays and punt, 4 plays and punt, 2 plays and interception, 3 plays and punt, 6 plays and touchdown. Toledo had played well to that point, just needed to give themselves a chance at the end.
By the time freshman Carter Bradley got his legs under him, the game had gotten away from the Rockets. A sequence of possessions was doom for Toledo. With 10 minutes left in a seven-point game with a third and ten from their own 8-yard line, Kentucky completed a 17 pass. Two chunk plays later, the Wildcats were in the endzone. Toledo needed an answer to stay in it. On Toledo’s next possession, Carter Bradley threw an interception to set up Kentucky on Toledo’s 33-yard line. Kentucky would score and push it to 38-17. Ball game.
Akron 3 – Illinois 42
Tom Arth’s debut was less than ideal. Brandon Peters wasn’t exactly accurate, but he was effective. He passed for three touchdowns and rushed for one in his debut after his transfer from Michigan. Kato Nelson and the offense couldn’t put together consistent drives.
This game exposed an issue that is going to plague Akron all season. They could not flip the field. Akron averaged 30.4 yards per punt. That’s not even net punt. That’s the raw punt yardage. Every time they needed to punt the ball they could not get it out of their own end. I guess that made it easy for Illinois who shouldn’t be able to put anyone away like they did Akron.
Indiana 34 – Ball State 24
A neutral site MAC vs Big Ten game? Not unheard of, but not how most seasons start. I’ve been staring at the box score and I think the difference in this game is just too many wasted drives by Ball State. Yards are about even, third down conversions are about the same, Ball State won the turnover battle, so what gives?
Quarterback Drew Plitt threw for 298 yards and running back Caleb Huntley rushed for 81 on 22 carries. Those are good final lines. The Cardinals allowed Indiana to play in their backfield and allowed 7 tackles for loss. Those plays are what killed the drives and got the Ball State offense off the field. The Cardinals look to rebound against Fordham.
Rhode Island 20 – Ohio 41
The Nathan Rourke show is off and running. Three total scores and 263 total yards, 188 passing, and 75 rushing. On top of Rourke’s performance, the ground game was moving the ball with ease. The Bobcats rushed for 278 yards as a team and averaged 7.3 per rush.
The Bobcat defense got burned on a couple of big plays. The two touchdown drives by Rhode Island were capped by throws of 34 and 38 yards. The defense only forced three tackles for loss and two were sacks. The Bobcats probably need to find a way to force more pressure before going to Pitt next week.
Eastern Michigan 30 – Coastal Carolina 23
Mike Glass only threw two incomplete passes on Saturday. Two. As efficient as that is, this game was not a given. Coastal had the lead 13-7 at halftime. Shaq Vann got 22 carries on Saturday and totaled 84 yards.
The second half went crazy. Nine of fourteen possessions were less than 2 minutes of game clock long. Coastal Carolina threw three interceptions in the second half. Eastern Michigan didn’t exactly capitalize on those opportunities but they did end drives Coastal couldn’t afford to waste. One came one play after EMU scored the go-ahead touchdown, another was a good ole arm punt on a 3rd and 23 in their own territory, and the last was one play after recovering an onside kick with 40 seconds left.
Illinois State 10 – Northern Illinois 24
The first half of this game made me wonder if Northern Illinois was going to win this game. The first half of the first game of the Thomas Hammock era totaled 10 punts. The NIU defense is as strong as it needs to be, but the offense seemed to need a minute to figure themselves out.
That’s not new for them. The strength was always the defense but this was strange. The offense never really got going. The Huskies had one long drive that resulted in a touchdown. They hit a big 68-yard touchdown pass. A defensive touchdown and a first-half field goal was everything they could muster. Going to Utah next week should be interesting.
Monmouth 13 – Western Michigan 48
Western Michigan looked great on Saturday night in Kalamazoo. Expectations are high this year for the Broncos so there was some emphasis put on the first game to be convincing. Jon Wassink did not disappoint. Jayden Reed transferred and D’Wayne Eskridge changed over to defensive back this offseason to seemingly deplete the Bronco wide receivers.
Dashon Bussell, a redshirt freshman, and tight end Giovanni Ricci looked great as top targets that combined for 10 catches and 213 yards. Even if the ground game struggled a bit, there doesn’t seem to be a need to worry at this point.
The defense did what it had to against an FCS opponent. At the end of the first half, the group had a nice goal-line stand with the game already in hand. That was nice to see.
Miami 14 – Iowa 38
Iowa pulled away in the second half to beat the freshman lead Redhawks on Saturday. Brett Gabbert, Blaine’s brother, started and played great. He certainly looked young at times, throwing a couple of reckless passes into an aggressive secondary, but it didn’t bite him that day.
A ton of the passes were very horizontal, but that’s expected from a game plan starting a freshman at quarterback. If Chuck Martin can fix the procedural penalties and be brave before he is forced to be, Miami could be a dangerous team in the MAC East.