And it’s beautiful. I’m a fan of weird football and the national storylines the past couple seasons have killed me. Alabama and Clemson from day one. Gross. Thank God for the MAC and the mess they bring to college football.
The MAC West always felt more sorted out than the East, and the same is still true. Just 100% turned on its head. The MAC West has two front runners, just as everyone predicted. It’s just not Toledo and Western Michigan. It’s Ball State and Central Michigan.
The East is a mess of everyone but Akron being in it. Sorry, Akron. Miami, Kent State, and Ohio are all 2-1. There is a ton of time to sort those teams out, but it’s not crazy to think that someone would be undefeated in conference three games in.
MAC West – The Good
Mike Neu has gotten the Ball State Cardinals halfway through the heart of their MAC schedule undefeated. In the preseason I wrote about how Mike Neu keeps his job and he’s done exactly what he needed to. He threw the MAC West into chaos. Ball State has some cushion on its way to the MAC Championship game.
Ball State can lose a game to anyone except Central Michigan and still control their own destiny. I’m amazed that’s a true statement.
Ohio at home this Saturday and Western on the road in three weeks to kick-off #MACtion present a tough schedule to navigate. We’ll see how it goes but they put the odds in their favor at least initially.
Central is the only team in the MAC West with one loss. I’m surprised too. Their only loss is to Western Michigan. Apparently Jim McElwain knows what he’s doing.
MAC West – The Bad
Let’s talk about what has gone wrong in the MAC. Toledo is number one with a bullet. The Rockets dropped a shocker against Bowling Green and got steamrolled by Ball State. Maybe they have a problem with teams that start with a B? This is after they beat Western Michigan by seven.
Speaking of the Broncos, they did the typical WMU thing where they set themselves up with a situation to control their own destiny and blow it. After the loss to the Rockets, Toledo gave them a gift by dropping the next two games. They promptly lost to an 0-2 Eastern Michigan team who were rotating their 2nd and 3rd string quarterback because Mike Glass is hurt.
Northern Illinois has looked like a team in transition that just happened to beat the MAC East favorite. Why not? I’m sure that Eastern would love to start conference play 1-0 for once but that’s just not their style. Eastern may not get the help they need to get to the MAC Championship Game but a bowl game is very much within reach. That would be three in four years. It’s not all bad.
MAC East – Congestion at the Top
Like I mentioned earlier, the lack of separation on this side is peculiar. A couple of situations are more ideal than others though. Ohio beat Kent State and has Miami yet to play. Miami still has to play both Ohio and Kent State. So the Golden Flashes find themselves essentially a half-game behind, needing a little help.
There are still 5 games left on every team’s schedule so there is plenty of time for the East to figure itself out. Honestly, if Kent State is anything less than thrilled with a 2-1 MAC start then they are crazy. It could turn a little sour if they finish 2-6 but that feels unlikely.
In the two-loss pair, Buffalo might be the farthest out with losses to Ohio and Miami. Bowling Green is gonna ride the Wagon Wheel victory as far as it will take them, and they should.
There’s less to say about the East because expectations were clustered together more than the West. Ohio was the preseason favorite and the rest finishing in almost any order wouldn’t have been a surprise. ALMOST any order.
What to Watch in Week 9
Be glued to Ball State games until they’re out of the division race. I’m still watching to see if they can be believed. This week, against Ohio, Ball State is the favorite at home. The line is 2.5 points. It’s tight but it doesn’t change the fact that Ball State is the favorite against the team that was favored to win the MAC East.
Once that game is either in hand or over, the 3:30 games should be well underway. The two that I’m paying the most attention to are Miami at Kent State and Eastern Michigan at Toledo.
Miami at Kent State will knock someone into tiebreaker hell. The true disaster scenario is Ohio losing to Ball State and Kent State beating Miami. The Flashes would be 3-1 on top of the East with Ohio holding a tiebreaker right behind them with two losses. Kent State would need to maintain its one-game lead through games at Toledo, home with Buffalo, home with Ball State, and at Eastern Michigan. That seems tricky.
The Toledo and Eastern Michigan game relegates someone from a long shot to a spoiler. Both teams are tougher than their record shows. In any one game either can beat anyone in this conference. Whoever loses this game will be a really tough three-loss team. The only diminishing factor to that, no one is left on either team’s schedule. Both have played Ball State and Western Michigan. Toledo has Central Michigan left and both play Kent State. They’ve already played the teams with opportunities to win the MAC West.
The only thing I’m sure of at this point, the tiebreaker situations in MAC Football, heading into the last week or two weeks are going to be mind-boggling.