So is everybody cool with Toledo as the clear favorite, with about seven teams lurking underneath them as a set of orbital masses hoping to luck into contention?
A week after locking themselves into a first place run, Temple was exposed as a team without a proven quarterback. EMU did something that hasn't happened in a decade and a half. A team's road defense was saved at the final second by the leg of an Aussie. We had a tragic death to begin the way, and after that pretty much every emotion you could have was felt somewhere in the region. It was just six games, but we had it all.
There's now a four-way tie in the MAC East with a bunch of two-loss teams. In the West it's Toledo and a triad of one-loss combatants. It's going to be a fun finish.
BOWLING GREEN 13, TEMPLE 10 — Call it what you will: a reverse jinx. But this was done mostly out of truth. What we didn't know was that Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown could each muster 100 yards on the ground and still be beaten. A couple key differences in this game: BGSU had zero turnovers, ran the ball as effectively (behind Anthon Samuel) and was able to make a few big pass plays when necessary. The key moment was a 4th and 9 decision on the Temple 27. The Owls had a 10-6 lead, and with eight minutes and an effective but worn/young defense on their hands, Dave Clawson let Matt Schilz win the game for them. He dropped a ball on a deep fade pattern to a well-covered Shaun Joplin for the touchdown. It was Joplin's first career score, and what a time for it.
Beleaguered the entire game by penalties, Temple still had a chance at the end, but Chester Stewart had thrown about 30 passes in the last three weeks, so suffice to say he was a bit rusty and unused to the situation. On one try, Chris Jones sacked Stewart on a third down, forcing a punt. Jones was there again on a QB hurry in the next possession before Paul Swan sacked Stewart to complete the upset.
So here we go 'round the Temple carousel again. They're posturing themselves as a team looking to move up in the world conference-wise and we've seen they can just obliterate a team when they choose to, but then they drop silly games like this. So good on the Falcons for the win but there's no way a young defense should've been able to hold up for 60 minutes against that running game.
EASTERN MICHIGAN 14, WESTERN MICHIGAN 10 — Speaking of inexplicable letdowns. Yowzah.
I'm not going to rail on WMU too much. They should have won this game because I still think they're the superior team but that's not how we decide games. You're better, according to the history books, if you have more points.
Much like BG-Temple after it, the Michigan MAC Trophy game was decided with sound defense and a couple big plays: Javonti Greene had a running and receiving touchdown, each for exactly 50 yards. That was it! That was their offense. Speak no more of it; it's a one-and-a-half-dimensional attack that just got a little stronger thanks to the return of Dominique Sherrer from injury. But the defense is what Ron English has been dying to turn around. They gave up 71 points to NIU in their finale last year; they kept WMU to a keen 10 points for 60 minutes, typefied by a huge goalline stand. A 4th down at the 1-yard line was attempted by Tevin Drake — who had a sparking long rushing TD earlier in the game — but was met by Nate Paopao and Bryan Pali. If you want to say that WMU was "Paopaoed," I would not stop you.
So this means that Eastern Michigan wins the Michigan MAC Trophy, something they actually held three years ago so it doesn't seem that long in retrospect, but between then and now they had an 0-12 season. They're now at 5-3, 3-1 in the MAC, and have five wins for the first time since 1995, when they finished 6-5. Their next three games: Ball State, Buffalo, at Kent State. There's at least two wins in there. Thanks to a soft schedule they seem poised for a bowl game this year.
As for WMU ... I don't know what to say. You go from a near-win at Illinois to a definite win at UConn. You have some fun at BG's expense, and then back-to-back downers on the road. They might be able to beat anybody in the MAC West but as it stands they're in fifth place.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS 31, BUFFALO 30 — As previously seen.
TOLEDO 49, MIAMI 28 — A classic catch-up game that you knew wouldn't end well for Miami. The Rockets always love to trap people in these Saturday night games in the Glass Bowl, and true to form they ran through several brick walls, one of them being Miami's actually pretty good defense. All they did was run, run, run until it was time to go home. The Rockets had a nice celebratory gala with the return of healthy stars including running back Adonis Thomas and linebacker Dan Molls.
Once Jayrone Elliott hit Zac Dysert on a sack-fumble, the flotsam was returned for 55 yards by Robert Bell for a 28-0 lead and you knew there was little reason to watch thereafter except to see some stat compilations.
But Miami is having a whale of a time trying to run the ball at all. Then again they only tried 21 times for 14 yards. The passing numbers were there but most of that resulted when down four scores. Despite the poor performance MU remains in that MAC East logjam. And Toledo slides to 5-3 and a perfect 4-0 in the MAC.
BALL STATE 31, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 27 — This really wouldn't have been a MAC week had there not been another Keith Wenning Comeback™. Nor would've it had tasted the same had CMU not come out and play a fairly-decent first quarter. Their lead was 20-3 all the way into the third quarter ... and that's when the floodgates were forcibly opened. They were helped along by two Zurlon Tipton fumbles, one of them in Cardinals territory. Wenning delivered three passing touchdowns in the second half and with the Chippewas in a semi-Hail Mary mode, Ryan Radcliff's pass from 35 yards out was intercepted by Sean Baker in the end zone.
I don't know what exactly to make of Ball State's resurgence but they're doing just about damn near everything they can to make it a memorable one. They too are at 5-3, but I'm pretty sure everybody is ... except for CMU, who falls to last place with a 2-6/1-3 year to date. Doesn't look like a return to a bowl game for them this year. The vise tightens on Dan Enos' neck a little more.
OHIO 37, AKRON 20 — This still felt like one of those slow, numbing victories that we've seen from OHIO in the last few years. They'll kinda sorta put away a team but you always feel like they may not have done enough. Akron's deficit was a little too much for them, but in the end all the numbers look wondrous for the Bobcats. It was a career day for Tyler Tettleton, who totaled 328 passing yards, two passing TDs and a rushing one as well. LaVon Brazill had another ridiculously long TD catch (78 yards) and the defense got a bit healthier and limited Akron to just 249 total yards, despite some Pyrrhic points in the fourth quarter.
Despite a two-game losing streak, OHIO is back in this. They're also among the conglomeration of MAC East teams all tied with one another.
And finally: poor Akron. Just ... poor Akron. They'll get this right some day.