It's not fun being the middle child. You're not old enough to receive all the perks, but you're not young enough to shirk responsibility. You get the worst of both worlds. As a wise young lady once said about the lamentable situation of not being the oldest child:
10 MARSHA20 GOTO 10
Or something like that.
Then there's this year. Ask fans of the Pac-10, the ACC, and the Big East; it's a down year. Even SEC fans are feeling a little tentative. Then look at the Championship Subdivision; they're rolling in it. 6-53 is not a great record (.102), but that's how they've been doing collectively against Bowl Subdivision teams. In recent memory we've never seen six FCS victories at FBS stadiums through the first two weeks. Back in 2007 (the year Appalachian State took down Michigan), there were nine total FCS upsets — four through the first two weeks.
Fortunately the MAC has no other such games scheduled for the rest of the year, but they were 2-8 (.200) against them. There are 24 more matchups scheduled across the board in Division I this year, and you can safely bet that another one or two teams will be embarrassed by such games.
We look at Gardner-Webb beating Akron and Liberty owning Ball State as black eyes. North Dakota almost slaps Northern Illinois in its grill. SEMO almost gives Ball State two FCS losses. Then Ball States loses to New Hampshire last year; okay, this is basically a secret hit piece on our friends in Muncie.
The initial reaction might be that these losses are inexcusable and can never happen again. But the sad reality is ... AQ conference teams are going to say the same thing about losses to MAC and Sun Belt teams. (So far, this year, everybody's avoided it!) If Penn State brings in Kent State and loses ... well, that's just not the type of game a Big Ten contender should let slip away. Michigan shouldn't lose to Toledo. Michigan State can't drop a game against CMU. What was Boston College doing with a mere 6-3 lead against Kent State?
And we hate this Catch-22 mentality. It's how a conference becomes the midwestern black sheep after so long. The teams become ornery to beat, but not impressive enough to walk with pride after a narrow win. Arizona's 41-2 smashing of Toledo probably deserves a fair heaping of respect. Same with UConn's visit to Temple. That's a HUGE game to win, should they. But as worried as they are of the potential loss ... will they be equally proud of the victory?
Which brings us to the MAC vs. the FCS. At this point a Top 25-ranked FCS team is probably as lethal as a top-half MAC team. And that's the problem. We look at these games so quickly and say, ah, it'll be a win. (Well, unless we have an 11th hour fortunate change-of-heart.) At the current rate, the MAC will lose two, three, four games a year against these cute little teams and gladly pay them money for travel and expenses for the honor of the invaluable teaching moments.
On the other side of it, however, maybe it's time we start putting some value in WMU beating Nicholls State with a sackful of nickels, for example. Or Kent State laying a haymaker on the Murray State Murrays. These are not blind paraplegic football players. They're a step down, granted, but if you believe in the laws of probability and the September Upset, then you have to take the Gardner-Webb-over-Akrons with the CMU-over-Michigan States.
Now, if they lost to a Division II team ... then the question is, um, what the heck were you doing scheduling those guys?