MAC Football Week 3 Preview

Nine games. Only one game of them un-televised. Pretty good ratio.

Next Game

Army's lone game this year was a painful 42-7 loss at San Diego State. They can move the ball on the ground with the triple option, and always have been able to I guess since 1776. And Trent Steelman is still their quarterback and top QB name in the land. But that's just darn about all they were able to accomplish, and if NIU can just do the zone read stuff they pull off so well, they ought to have this one in hand. NIU looked good against Iowa, they looked just OK against UT-Martin, considering ... now its time to take it to a well-disciplined defense.

Two weeks ago this looked winnable; a game to vault EMU into a new level of MACdom. We are very far removed from that possibility. Sure, with Purdue's starting quarterback injured that helps the cause, but Eastern just has too many issues with execution and offensive play-calling to make this one very winnable. The Eagles defense needs to get their act together as well or this one might turn ugly quick. An improvement would be yet another 10-point loss, but with a shot to win in the fourth.

These two played three games in the 70s and that was it. They were outscored a combined 69-10 and shut out twice. This will not stand, nor will they be shut out again, because no matter what type of incantation former NIU man Jerry Kill might be pulling up in curling country, the Gophers are not at a point where they're an automatic win against a MAC team. Consider Minnesota's MAC games in the last five years:

2011: W Miami 29-23
2010: L Northern Illinois 34-23
2009: W Northern Illinois 31-27
2009: W @ Bowling Green 42-17
2008: L Bowling Green 32-31 (one of my FAVORITE games of all time)
2007: W Miami 41-35

Essentially one sure win, and two losses. No, this is not all Kill's fault, and he was brought in to fix this stuff. Maybe they pull away, but you always know WMU is good for the occasional suicide run at an AQ-conference team. We didn't see it at Illinois. We might see it here.

I can't even tell you how Michigan almost lost to them in 2010, by the narrow 42-37. So we know that much of this UM offense is familiar with the defense, and the main difference is that the Minutemen are still trying to figure stuff out offensively, having scored just six points all season, but one thing to consider: they scored 0 against UConn then six at Indiana. If this trend continues, they'll finish with 12 in The Big House, then hang 66 on their Week 12 opponent. It's a process.

Next Game

Having seen what Morgan State was able to allow against Buffalo, Akron ought to take care of business here. Probably. Two weeks in it's a circle of unknowns. If FIU is good, then Akron had a great game, and if Buffalo is good, then perhaps Morgan State is decent at their level so maybe this is a competitive game for a while. We'll just have to see. Is that vague enough for you?

Next Game

Man, Boise State's been waiting long for this. After that opening week loss to Michigan State, they've been sitting patiently in Idaho, which is no small feat. I've been to Idaho. Nice people but man the air is dry as hell. It makes you appreciate 100 percent humidity when some locations get zero percent. Anyway, in football terms the way Miami can gauge themselves is to see how long they can stick with the Broncos, and I give them maybe midway through the second quarter before the taste runs sour. Nick Harwell may not be 100 percent in this game, which is a drag if that's true, but I can't see him being held out of a game like this.

Next Game

Ohio Bobcats @ Marshall Thundering Herd

Saturday, Sep 15, 2012, 6:30 PM EDT
Joan C. Edwards Stadium
TV: None ($9.95 to watch on HerdZone)

Complete Coverage >

No, it's not on TV. And you want to know why? Blame Marshall, our former MAC brethren:

I've never thought it was a great idea for a team to keep their video close to the vest and make end-users pay for internet video. But people will fork it over because they want to see this Bobcats team. Of course, they could make the two-hour drive to Huntington just as easily and get a much better picture quality.

It's a shame that Marshall departed for C-USA, and it seems almost certain that their life was better with us, but being so close to OHIO it's good to see they still play each other when they can.

Corn mazes notwithstanding, I am trying really hard to get fired up for this game which is happening in freaking week three. September is a weird time for a rivalry. I know that Kentucky and Louisville played theirs on the first week, and a Sunday at that. In recent years BG and UT squared off on the last week of November to seem like an OSU-Michigan thing, but the problem is that UT-BG fans were also OSU-Michigan fans, and how can you do two football games in one week?

Last year the game was in October which was still weird to this generation but historically this is month is when the game was traditionally held. The earlier this game ever had been predates the MAC: October 3, 1919. Tradition is difficult to nail down sometimes. They're hard to start and difficult to understand them before you were born. Sometimes they just change and that's the end of it. The constant is that, look, these two teams are playing each other and the Toledo metro-area may not have a terrific sports identity, but if they have anything, it's this game. So let's just enjoy it.

Oh, and it ought to be a good game too.

A true underdog story. The plucky upstart Indiana Hoosiers have not had much success, but they're looking good this year. They're 2-0, but granted they played an FCS school and UMass. They'll face a big test against Ball State, the gallant favorite which has bested them twice in the last four years. Indiana over Ball State would be a big win for the IU program and certainly give some much-needed attention to the underrated Big Ten Leaders Division. What a quaint name!

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