The MAC got off to a good start, Kent State and Buffalo each got their first bowl wins in program history. Central Michigan did not have a great game. I didn’t think San Diego State could score 48 points.
Buffalo’s game plan was entirely predictable. Jaret Patterson got 32 carries and ran for 173 yards and two touchdowns. His last three games he ran for 663 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was unstoppable this season. In total, he finished with 1799 yards in 13 games and 19 touchdowns. The scary part for other MAC teams, he has two years of eligibility left.
Dustin Crum led the Golden Flashes to a shootout win against Utah State. He only threw five incompletions, 21 for 26, and totaled 289 yards. He also rushed 23 times for 147 yards. Isaiah McKoy had a catch and run for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Jordan Love tried his best to show off to NFL scouts and win the football game. He threw for 317 yards and three touchdowns. It was a fun game. It came into the fourth quarter 27-26 Utah State, then 39 points were scored in the fourth quarter. Nearly peak #MACtion.
In the last pre-Christmas bowl game, San Diego State swallowed Central Michigan whole. Quinten Dormady only completed 11 passes and 3 interceptions. Kobe Lewis ran for the Chips only score, while SDSU had their best offensive game of the year. That’s really all that happened here.
Hopefully, after a great holiday for everyone who celebrates, four more MAC bowl games are still on the slate. Most of these feel a little more lopsided than the pre-Christmas bowl games.
Quick Lane Bowl
Eastern Michigan Eagles vs Pittsburgh Panthers
7:00 pm on December 26, 2019
Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
In the middle of the season, it didn’t look like Eastern Michigan was going to be bowl eligible. The Eagles were 4-5, and had dropped four out of the last five despite beating Illinois in the non-conference.
Quarterback Mike Glass is about the only thing that has gone right for the Eagles this season. He’s very efficient and can drive passes down the field. The running game has never really gotten into gear this season.
It’s unusual for a Chris Creighton coached team to be as bad on defense as they were this year. Despite the disappointing results, Kobie Beltram made just about every tackle and Brody Hoying had 4 interceptions.
All that said, Pitt is too much for this Eagles squad. The Panther defense is the 11th best defense in the nation per SP+. They are top 5 in standard down sack rate and passing down sack rate. Plus they posted these numbers against ACC opponents. The ACC is down this season, but no conference is as down as the MAC.
With the help of a bad Eagles defense, the Panthers get the win.
Servpro First Responder Bowl
Western Michigan Broncos vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
11:30 am on December 30, 2019
Gerald J. Ford, Dallas, Texas
Per SP+, both defenses are better than the offenses they will match up against in this game. Not by much. In the Wild West showdown (Not official bowl name), the Broncos bring a 49th best offense and the 91st defense. The Hilltoppers bring the 101st offense and 37th defense.
The overall SP+ ranks are different by 23 ranks, it gives the Hilltoppers a little more than a four-point edge. This game could be tight, or someone could get punched in the mouth early and decide they’re not interested.
Western Michigan should be frustrated with the way their season ended, missing out on a trip to the MAC Championship Game with a rainy loss at NIU. They could be looking to exorcise some demons.
LeVante Bellamy, MAC Offensive Player of the Year, had more than 1400 rush yards and 23 touchdowns this season. He will be featured early and often by the Michigan version of the Western teams. The Hilltopper defense is more vulnerable against the run, but they are still top 50 against the run per play.
On the other side of the ball, Western Kentucky is going to get the ball to running back Gaej Walker, wide receiver Lucky Jackson, and wide receiver Jahcour Pearson. All three have been effective with the ball in their hands this season. Wester Michigan’s Treshaun Heyward and Ali Fayad will do their best to contain the run and get after quarterback Ty Storey.
In the end, I’m going to make a little bit of a MAC homer pick. Western Michigan wants to prove their better than their 7-5 record shows.
Verdict: Western Michigan
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Ohio Bobcats vs Nevada Wolf Pack
2:30 pm on January 3, 2020
Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
Ohio dropped some games this season that they feel they shouldn’t have. The Bobcats lost each of their conference games by 3 points each. It makes 5-3 in conference sting a little more.
Nathan Rourke led a top 25 offense this season but it wasn’t enough to get over the hump in a few games. He’s going to run and throw a lot against the Wolf Pack. Against a mediocre defense, they will get their points. Ohio struggles at times to keep Rourke’s jersey clean, but Nevada only has Dom Peterson as a consistent sack threat.
Nevada has had a rotating quarterback issue. They seem to have settled on Carson Strong. At times Malik Henry, of Last Chance U, started for them. He is currently sidelined with an academic issue according to USA Today.
The Ohio defense hasn’t been good either but the best unit in this game is the Bobcat offense and it’s not close. Based on that, give it to Ohio.
Miami Redhawks vs Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
6:30 pm on January 6, 2020
Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
MAC Freshman of the year Brett Gabbert lead the Redhawks to their first MAC Championship since 2010. Chuck Martin, for all of his weirdness, might be starting to convince some people that he is a quality coach.
Miami used a top MAC defense to get themselves to the title game, aided by a competent offense. Competent might be generous and a top MAC defense is below average nationally.
Louisiana is a tough draw for anyone in the MAC. Based on only SP+ rankings this is a game between the 106th best team and the 33rd best team. A mismatch is an understatement.
The Ragin’ Cajuns have the best name in college football and will score any time they want to in this game. Gabbert is asked to throw laterally often in the Redhawk offense and that’s just not enough to get the win in the Lendingtree Bowl.
Louisiana runs away with this one.