(What? Previews already? It's Thursday, but we're going to touch an another topic for Friday.)
The standard seven games get underway on All Hallow's Eve-Eve — six MAC games, and the 13th-team-out is OHIO, who plays host to UL-Lafayette. If that's too much of a MAC Overload (a condition that affects one out of every 13,000 Americans), rest easy for next week, when we finally have scattered weeknight prime-time games.
In fact, the schedule gets so shook up that the Saturday after next has two MAC games. Not 200 ... just two. Congratulations on your new-found fortune, but I hope you weren't watching too many prime-time dramedies.
Yet again they get the MAC Game of the Week correct, because the West ultimately pivots on this one.
Toledo fans will be watching this game and — for once in their lives — cheer for the team in brown. A Western win would give the Rockets the outright division lead, and it's an occurence that's not totally out of the question. NIU's last tough road game was, what, Illinois? Three routs at home and an at-Akron spanking has gotten them this far, and now that Alex Carder-led offense is something the Huskies defense will have to contest.
It's the irresistible vs. immovable dilemma again. WMU's #1 in scoring (31.8), and NIU's tops in fewest points allowed (18.4). The problem, however, is that the Huskies' running game remains demoralizing, while the Broncos stopping the run is, howyousay, suspect.
Western has a good chance (let's say, 42 percent) to pull this one out, although it will only help their cause if NIU falls to the "looking ahead" petard. After all, Toledo is their next game after this one. And once that's over, it's a couple of gimmes left before the end of the season. There's light at the end of the GMAC Bowl tunnel.
Okay. With all I've talked them up, it'd be a dick of me to pull the rug out from beneath them at this time. Guess: NIU 38, WMU 31
This will not be pretty. I wonder how many long hours Rob Ianello has stared at the chalkboard, wondering how he can play his team into a 20-point loss. Guess: Temple 45, Akron 14
It's the Aggressive Branding Bowl! Ohio University is not OU, or Ohio U. Hell, Ohio University is overdoing it: Ohio is acceptable, and OHIO is magnificent. Likewise, you might know about our Sun Belt friends, Louisiana at Lafayette, or Louisiana-Lafayette, or UL-Lafayette. Know them as such monikers no longer, you cretin! From the spicy Ragin' Cajuns media guide:
Athletically, using the reference "at Lafayette" is not necessary in the same examples as North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Texas at Austin and Tennessee at Knoxville.
Dude, "Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns" is the preferred nomenclature. Note the possessive and the apostrophes, which are groundbreaking in teamnamery. But in the end, they want to ultimately be known as "Louisiana." Based on their logo, maybe they'll settle for emulating a wonderful place to buy fast food chicken. I wonder if their gravy bowl is as lumpy as their record; last week Louisiana let Western Kentucky pick up their first win in 27 tries. Guess: OHIO 33, Louisiana 20
Hey, Kent State's not out of this yet. They're just one game behind a flock of teams, but they're going to have to run through the hard part of their MAC schedule in November: Temple, WMU, and Ohio. Youch. Business ought to be taken care of this week after the defense has almost picked Bowling Green quarterbacks out of their teeth. Guess: Kent State 24, Ball State 13
It's Regression Night in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Both of these teams were bowl-bound last year, but now they're a collective 3-13. That doesn't even seem right. They both continue to play worse as the season goes on. So let's go nuts with the score. Guess: CMU 5, BGSU 3
All is not lost for MU, but UB lost a running back. Furthermore, the Bulls must be looking at the schedule (they're 1-2 in the MAC) and say to themselves, "hey, we're only one game out of this." And that's just about all the optimism we'll allot for the Bulls at this juncture. Guess: Miami 24, Buffalo 16
What? No night game for the MAC? Toledo's usually good for that, but EMU may not want to risk the lights going out again. We have slightly documented the Rockets' first quarter problems (they've been down a combined 31-0 after 15 minutes the past two weeks but have won), and it didn't seem possible for Ball State to start off with the first 17 of last week's game.
EMU's offense does have a pulse when it chooses to take advantage of its circulatory system, but the problem is that UT has averaged 46 points against the Eagles in the last three years. The year before that, the Eagles' lone win was a 17-13 triumph at home against T-Town. And this year, with Toledo at 4-0, the first quarter will be owned by the blue and gold, as will the rest of the game. Guess: Toledo 44, EMU 28