Recapping the all-too-quick day in the MAC:
MIAMI 35, ARMY 28 —This is a funny way of celebrating Military Appreciation Day. Then again it's really the cadets' own fault for going 0-3 against MAC opponents this year. This is the best they've done, considering. Getting 35 points must feel like 70 points considering they averaged just 13 points/game this year.
Zac Dysert must also feel relieved as he finally threw a passing touchdown for the first time in three games. Four of them, to be precise. Nick Harwell did most of the work downfield as he hauled in 10 for 186 yards and two touchdowns. The whole offense went above 500 yards, which has to look and feel good, especially for offensive coordinator John Klacik who was on the sidelines for a win for the first time since November 10, 2007 — his tenure with the Division II Lock Haven Bald Eagles ended with 32 straight losses. Coupled with the first four of the year with Miami, it finally happened on the 37th try.
WESTERN MICHIGAN 45, BOWLING GREEN 21 — Well, I guess 489 combined passing yards counts as "a lot," but the reason WMU was able to break out and dominate was, as we noted earlier, their ability to expose BG's minimum-security run defense. So much, in fact, that Alex Carder set a career-high 96 yards on 14 carries. Much of it was on scrambles rather than designed plays, but it really boggled the Falcons and opened up Jordan White for 12 catches, 156 yards and two TDs, not to mention Tevin Drake hitting the 100-yard milestone. They had so much fun they decided to throw a goalline touchdown to Chris Prom, a linebacker moonlighting as a fullback. BG played well enough to keep pace in the first half but had no answer defensively after the first half.
TEMPLE 42, BALL STATE 0 — I think the Owls will be just fine. Ball State had a nice start to the season and there's no reason they can't finish with a .500 record, but it won't happen if they keep playing teams like Temple. An onslaught of creating turnovers and limiting third down success basically did the job for the cherry and white without the ball. With it, they just gave it to Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown then said "pick your hole." Pierce had 128 yards on 31 carries, Brown had 114 on 15 touches and even Chris Coyer, the third-string quarterback, got in on the fun with a 74-yard score. We also saw a Rod Streater basket catch falling out of bounds that I hope I can find and share with you.
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL 27, AKRON 17 — So FIU, who beat the ilk of Louisville and Central Florida, then fell apart to Louisiana and Duke, didn't exactly play their best at InfoCision Stadium, as evidenced by the 10-3 lead Akron built (which was their first lead against an FBS team all year). They might have made this a closer game but suffered a red zone fumble in the fourth quarter after driving all the way from the one-yard line. Yes, they did that.
What I'm gleaning from the Zips is that they are figuring out, maybe, one or two things on offense. They're still going to struggle to win in the MAC but this is not going to be a guaranteed win for some teams.
TOLEDO 54, EASTERN MICHIGAN 18 — What a boring game for Eric Page. Just 10 catches, 104 yards, a receiving touchdown and a punt return touchdown? No sweeps? No Wildcat plays? That's lame. And while the two-quarterbacks system was effective against the Eagles, not all is well in Rockettown. Add Danny Noble to the litany of injuries, who broke his ankle in the game. Their next home game will be played at the Toledo Hospital.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS 40, KENT STATE 10 — They figured out how to play good defense: just schedule Kent State. The Golden Flashes had just 73 yards of plentiful offense. Their touchdown came via the defense and the field goal was set up by neat field position. And even the 40 points was lower than it should've been; the Huskies stalled three times in the red zone, settling for field goals. This probably won't be much of a complaint. I mean, that's still 40 points.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE 38, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 24 — The lone road nonconference game of the day turned out to be close enough to tip your collective fedoras, but this looks like a carbon copy of the Kentucky game — Ryan Radcliff started out great in the first quarter, then after a second-quarter lead they pretty much fizzled. While they hit the 400-yard mark, they had just 27 yards on five third-quarter drives, including three interceptions (and five turnovers overall). Paris Cotton had a 77-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to pad his numbers but it was too little too late. Not the best showing following a shocker against Northern last week.
BUFFALO 38, OHIO 37 — The game that ended last on the day turned out to be the thriller of the afternoon. While the other seven games had an average margin-of-victory of 24.7 (and only one within one possession), this one had late ties and lead changes.
The decision we're all talking about was Frank Solich sending out the field goal team on 4th and goal (from the 16-yard line) when UB had a 38-34 lead with about 3:30 left in the game. Matt Weller connected and the Bobcats got their three-and-out but they did zero with the ensuing offensive possession. It looked smart when they forced the punt, and maybe that's not the decision that cost them the game, but in an affair which had 952 total yards of offense ... why rely on your defense to win the game when nobody was being stopped all day?
But let's also give credit to Chazzman. Chazz Anderson threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, including a 90-yard screamer to Ed Young immediately following a long OHIO touchdown. His offense took advantage of a much-bandaged Bobcats defense and pulled off what you might call an upset. Although [breathes on knuckles] I did see this one coming.
MORE THINGS WE KNOW
• Temple has to win the MAC East. If they don't it's a collossal failure. With OHIO reeling, Bowling Green unable to stop the run, Miami still unproven, Buffalo not there yet, Kent State existing, and Akron being Akron, it's Temple's division to lose.
• The jury remains out at Ball State. While the Cardinals were thumped at Oklahoma 62-6, Texas didn't do much better. And yet by losing 42-0 at home to Temple, that's essentially the type of game Akron had against them. Therefore by the transitive property, Ball State's potential lies somewhere between Texas and Akron.
• We need to circle November 8 with a heavier marker. That's the day WMU travels to Toledo. No offense to NIU but the Rockets and Broncos have been the most impressive teams in the MAC West on all three facets. And yes, it's a Tuesday, so it shall be gloriously televised.