1. NIU beat Iowa on the road, and I don't think any of us were surprised. I don't think there have been too many times in our history when we expected a MAC team to beat a Big 10 team...is this a milestone in the development of the MAC?
I'm sure it's a milestone, but only if the MAC doesn't regress. Let us not forget that Toledo struggled against Florida, Ohio was non-existent against Louisville, Kent State needed a fourth quarter comeback to beat Liberty without Dri Archer, and 4 "lower-level" MAC schools got hammered last week. As a whole, the MAC won 5 games with 3 of those coming against FCS foes.
Don't get me wrong. WMU looked decent against Michigan State. Buffalo held their own against Ohio State (thank you Khalil Mack). Ball State showed their might against a decent FCS team in Illinois State. But NIU beating iowa on the road, when Iowa is reeling is barely a milestone. The Hawkeyes completely shut down Jordan Lynch once Tommylee Lewis went down, and if not for a horrible INT, could've won the game themselves. If anything, the MAC looked to have taken a step back from last season's incredible upsets in my opinion given the whole dynamic of the weekend.
I think that if the teams can turn things around, and continue to perform upsets throughout the year, then we can call this a milestone. Until then, NIU just beat a crummy Iowa team in a game some fans thought they'd win while the rest of the MAC struggled Saturday and Sunday. Seriously, outside of Buffalo and NIU, did anyone really think a team played halfway decent those two days?
2. Do you think power football is making a comeback in the MAC?
No. Sure Lynch is a power-runner with an arm. But most of the other play-makers in the conference (Archer, Bernard Reedy, Tommylee Lewis) all have the speed factor. David Fluellen is a hybrid back if you want, and sure Trayion Durham is "thunder", but I don't see power football much in the MAC right now.
I should note that I didn't see any of the BG-Tulsa game, so I have no idea how the BG offense looked. UMass, Akron, Ohio, and CMU also couldn't have shown much to help answer this question. I still personally think the MAC is more about finesse than power, but having an occasional power player (like Durham) is nice to wear down defenses and set-up the pass and speed.
3. Everyone says the BCS schools are moving toward their own division. Do you think the MAC will end up either in FBS or in a new division with the other schools that are currently non-AQ and how much does it matter to you if they did?
I have no strong opinion on this, so our manager Bryan and fellow contributor James Kelley are here to help me out.
When (not if) the power conferences form their own league, there's no conceivable scenario where the MAC gets to join up with the BCS schools. The MAC and the rest of "the other 5" conferences have clearly been pushed to the side by the power conferences and everything else that goes along with them. The fact that no MAC teams (Temple, you don't count) were invited to have lunch with the cool kids during the most recent wave of conference realignment shows that the BCS schools have no desire to be in the same group as the MAC (and other mid-major conferences) long term.As far as that goes though, will it be a bummer when the MAC is left standing on the outside with conferences such as the Mountain West and Sun Belt? No. Why? Because it's already that way. Okay so we might not get to see Louisville beat up on Ohio for the 'Cats lunch money, or Florida trounce the Rockets for having weird shoes anymore, but is that what we really want to see? I don't. It'll balance out the competition, and all us "nerds" will be better off for it.
I think there is value in looking at how the new division would operate. Obviously there would be a ton of money and exposure and all of that involved and it's hard to not look at that with wide-eyed enthusiasm. But on the other side you get the backroom politics and high-profile issues that come with being one of the big money schools. Part of the discussion would have to be "how much of the game are we willing to play?"
The MAC operates in sort of a minor-league baseball fashion in that there are loads of talented players, but many of the players who star for MAC teams would be supporting characters on one of the big outfits. Just like in the minor leagues, these teams have dedicated fan bases that love to see their players move on up to the big stage and succeed. In that way, I think staying down in whatever is left of FBS has a ton of value. Stick with what endears the fans, don't sell out for the sake of selling out.
Ultimately, I don't think it matters where the MAC lands because their fans aren't going anywhere and players will still be drawn to what makes #MACtion the phenomenon that it is.