(Earlier: Afternoon game thoughts)
BALL STATE 28, BUFFALO 25 — Probably as the season progresses this game will be forgotten, since it's unlikely that both, let alone either, team will be a serious contender for a MAC division. But unlikelihood is not what dictates champions. It's just what feels right at this point. You may have your reservations before getting on the Ball State bandwagon (as evidenced by the announced attendance at Scheumann Stadium, 8,964, there's ample room) but they've now gutted out two key wins. And this one counts in the conference standings. Throw away the nonconference flotsam, and they're they're 1-0.
The drive at the end machinated by coach Pete Lembo and quarterback Keith Wenning required every down handed to them. Wenning converted two fourth downs of distances 14 and 7. An easy strike to young Willie Snead put them up for good. Jahwan Edwards also gained substantive ground: 112 yards on 22 tries and two touchdowns.
Here's the game-winner to Snead:
As for Buffalo, they stayed in there but the missed PAT in the third quarter forced them to play a Pyrrhic game of catch-up. On their next two TDs they attempted two-pointers and failed each time. That adds up to three points piddled away. There's your overtime, wide right.
A win over Indiana and now a nailbiter at home to Buffalo. I think this team can get bowl eligible. That's as far as I stretch.
OHIO 44, MARSHALL 7 — Would it have killed the Herd to make this a game? I figured this one would be a nice green-on-green clash down to the wire, but as it turns out the Bobcats are on a mission to keep their record perfect. And while they haven't gone 3-0 since the '70s, it doesn't seem like much. But in the state, it's everything: Toledo, BGSU, Akron, Kent State, Miami, Cincinnati and now Ohio State all have at least one loss. OHIO stands alone.
The numbers on Tyler Tettleton were Harnishian: 20-for-29, 285 yards, three touchdowns, and a fourth rushing. The offensive line was demoralizing, which opened up everything else including a feature back emerging from the rotation: Ryan Bokin had 67 yards on the season on 14 carries, but added 137 more on 25 touches, including a tack-on touchdown in the fourth quarter. And LaVon Brazill also caught two touchdowns, including this ridiculous one in the first quarter.
MINNESOTA 29, MIAMI 23 — It's easy to forget about a team when their second week is a bye, and what they're supposed to be, but a narrow loss to Minnesota is not a backbreaker. It hurts, especially since Minnesota has been slayed by the MAC a few times in the last decade. And it doubly hurts since Chris Givens looked so much to have the winning catch in the end zone, but then I saw the ball was actually next to his hip. Those don't count. So congratulations to Jerry Kill for winning his first'un as a Golden Gopher, and it came against the team that undid his former school in the MAC Championship Game.
Zac Dysert had a nice game, relying mostly on Nick Harwell (11 catches) and Givens (seven) while the defense had some solid third down numbers, but Minnesota was able to run the ball more effectively and that was your difference.
WISCONSIN 49, NIU 7 — More defensive red flags abound for the Huskies. I don't think a win over Wisconsin was going to happen, but the margin of victory seems to indicate that Dave Doeren has way more work left ahead of him to keep his offense in the game. They gave up 600 yards to Wisconsin, as Wisconsin is prone to do sometimes, but that's still too much. The Badgers defense also shut down much hope of NIU moving the ball via legs: just 66 total ground yards, and Chandler Harnish ran just three times. Theory: NIU is the new WMU and WMU is the new NIU. Can't wait to field test this.
CINCINNATI 59, AKRON 14 — The good news is that Akron finally hit some season firsts on their third game: they scored a touchdown, let alone two. They also moved the offense into the red zone for the first time all year. (Yep.) But five first-half turnovers took the Zips immediately out of the game; three of those turnovers parlayed into runback scores for the Bearcats. And even though the garbage time padded the stats, Jawon Chisholm did break out for 133 yards on 25 carries. This kid is one to watch develop in the MAC; he might be a dynamic back in the coming years.
KANSAS STATE 37, KENT STATE 0 — I'm not even gonna.