Western Michigan 68, Akron 19 — The team that scored 63 points and lost earlier this year had more than enough to beat down the MAC's worst team. And they didn't even need Alex Carder for it, who missed the game with a shoulder injury. Capable backup Tyler Van Tubbergen did what Carder has done once this year: account for seven touchdowns in a game. Van Tubbergen threw for six, ran for one, and had just two incompletions all game. Jordan White had a typical game: seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
For Akron, they could only muster 35 passing yards. Jawon Chisholm remains the hope of the future as the freshman finished with 20 rushes for 76 yards and a touchdown; he also led the team in receiving with a single 14-yard catch. Senior defensive tackle James Harvey had a safety tackle as well as a forced fumble which led to Troy Gilmer's 72-yard return touchdown. Of course, by then it was a tad too late for any hopes of recovery.
So WMU improves their bowl resume to a 7-5 record with 35.5 points per game. In any bowl game their matchup should have some points, Carder or no Carder. As for Akron, it's hard to say if Rob Ianello can survive this last four-game stretch where they were outscored 189-35. They seemed to have turned a corner after the VMI win and playing close games in their next four, but finishing the season with eight straight losses is demoralizing. I'm not normally a fan of canning a coach after two years, but the Zips somehow emerged from a one-loss season and took a step backward. If they get a new man for next year, let it be Jim Tressel.
Northern Illinois 18, Eastern Michigan 12 — Yeah, this.
Temple 34, Kent State 16 — The winning streak had to end sometime, and this was clearly the time for it. The Owls matched their win total from last year, but this time it seems like bowling is in their near future. Bernard Pierce finished off the pesky Flashes with three touchdowns on 24 carries for 189 yards, although he did fumble twice. Matt Brown had the special teams play of the day with a 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown following a Jacquise Terry score. TU missed Chris Coyer for most of the game with an injury, but a mix of Mike Gerardi and Chester Stewart went a combined 8-for-10 for 113 yards.
The defense did OK enough with five quarterback sacks, three via Jake Dooley, who also forced a fumble. They bottled up Roosevelt Nix rather well, who didn't register a single stat. Dana Brown Jr. also had three tackles for loss, one being a sack.
And KSU's last-gasp bowl eligibility bid falls short, but a 5-7 finish is quite a stronger outlook than they looked a month ago. November 2011 went about as well as it could have for the black squirrel lovers, because the only thing this takes away from them is potential darkhorse status in 2012: they might/should contend.
Toledo 45, Ball State 28 — It would've been the game that clinched the MAC West had Northern Illinois failed to win earlier in the day, but at least they were able to beef up the record to 8-4 yet again. Led by Terrance Owens' four touchdown passes, the Rockets pretty much let off enough jet fuel to keep Ball State chasing their tails for 60 minutes. Eric Page caught a cumbersome 16 balls for 145 yards and a score. Jermaine Robinson returned a Keith Wenning throw 58 yards for a touchdown late in the game to dash any hopes for a comeback. Adonis Thomas had a busy game as well, running 25 times for 141 yards.
For the Cardinals, they finish at 6-6 and hope that LemboBall is attractive enough to a bowl committee. If this was it, then Sean Baker did all he could to let the season be prolonged with 18 tackles and a forced fumble. A .500 record is more than some (read: most) imagined for Pete Lembo's first year having to manage Stan Parrish's rubble, so hopes are high in Muncie.
Bowling Green 42, Buffalo 28 — Could be the pessimistic Falcon in me, but once Steven Means ran back an interception for a touchdown on his own batted ball to make it 10-0, I thought UB was going to cruise to a big victory. It seemed doubly evident when Branden Oliver ran in a touchdown (not to mention breaking James Starks' school record for rushing yards in a season). But they didn't give up — BGSU scored five touchdowns in a seven-drive span, two of them on single plays. Eugene Cooper and Kamar Jorden each caught two touchdowns.
Well, 5-7 is a far cry from what the Falcons appeared to be capable of earlier in the year, but finishing with a win always helps. Buffalo finishes with a mixed bag of a 3-9 record but returns with two more years of Oliver and Khalil Mack. But who's going to be their quarterback? Hey that rhymes.