Welcome back, MAC fans. Week three was about as wild as its predecessor and frankly, I didn't think that possible. Here's a rambling recap:
Kent State defensed but didn't offense. Eastern Michigan played defense and offense, and then stopped doing both of those things courtesy of Ball State. Ohio and Western Michigan took care of business at home against FCS schools, and there was a Flacco sighting in Kalamazoo (no word on his elite status yet). UMass may want to reconsider sticking around for awhile after losing in the most MAC way possible, Miami dropped a heart breaker in a rivalry game, and Bowling Green didn't win despite throwing for just shy of one million yards. Central Michigan lost in overtime in the Carrier Dome despite a sophomore running back's coming out party, Akron sent a defensive lineman into the end zone more than once. Toledo won in two overtimes against Iowa State and Northern Illinois almost broke the internet, coming so close to the biggest upset in MAC football history at a state university in Ohio.
There are plenty of stickers to get to this week, so let's get right to it. Starting with the Flashes.
Demetrius Monday - for giving Minnesota a case of the MONDAYS
Yeah, I said it. You can't stop me, and I'm not the only one who thinks it's funny:
It definitely wasn't funny for the Minnesota Golden Gophers who, all puns aside, had all they could handle from Demetrius Monday. Monday stole two possessions from the Gophers via interception on two occasions. Two interceptions for a defense that gave up just a single touchdown on the day would be all in a day's work for a normal human football player, but Monday took it a step further by stripping the ball for a fumble and running it back 80 yards for the only Kent State touchdown on the day. I wonder if he can play quarterback?
EMU had a 17-0 lead. We have proof.
PHOTO EVIDENCE pic.twitter.com/JKCXWVWxoF— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) September 19, 2015
See? I would't steer you wrong. That lead disappeared though, a fact for which we also have photo evidence:
PHOTO EVIDENCE pic.twitter.com/aZT4E9iZOy— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) September 19, 2015
There's a reason this happened, and they are my next two sticker recipients.
Riley Neal and Darian Green - #Offense
Ball State and Eastern Michigan and Ypsilanti was supposed to be a wild west shootout from start to finish. It wasn't as a whole, but Ball State surged back from down 17-0 to the Eagles to win 28-17, so I guess that sort of counts? I'm not sure what the OR designation means on a depth chart. I'm pretty sure it means "Riley Neal is our starting quarterback," but then again, I don't speak coach. Ball State needed something, anything at all, after Jack Milas started 0-5 with a .7 QBR. Neal provided that something, going 24 for 28 passing with 194 yards and a touchdown.
Neal wasn't about to just settle with his aerial conquests either. The freshman from Yorktown, Indiana pitched in 86 yards on the ground and even added a touchdown of his own. The real workhorse rushing the football was Darian Green, however, as the sophomore carried the ball 25 times for 164 yards and a score. Green is off to a hot start this season and with the emergence of Neal, fans in Muncie have reason to be excited about the young Cardinals.
Also, for another two weeks we get to say, "MAC West leading Ball State Cardinals."
Actually, you can say that if you want. I'm going to stop. That felt wrong.
It's a shame the minutemen are leaving for the independent ranks after this season. They've finally got this #MACtion thing figured out. UMass' loss to Temple was so MAC it should force them to stick around for another year. If you missed it, the Minutemen had an extra point blocked and returned, and it was a huge reason they lost.
As a consolation prize, albeit invisible and lacking in any real value, I have a stickers for the UMass receiving corps:
Rodney Mills and Tajae Sharpe - big plays when they needed them
After last week's performance against Colorado, UMass really had no business running with the Temple Owls in a vacant Gillette Stadium, but they did and big plays from Mills and Sharpe were a big part of that. The duo tallied 260 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 total receptions, including a touchdown reception by Mills on a key fourth down play late in the game.
Matt Johnson - For making me say this: Matty Heisman?
Bowling Green lost another tough game to the Memphis Tigers, but Matt Johnson should hardly shoulder that blame. Johnson threw for 443 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 12 on the year. For those of you scoring at home, that's an average of four touchdowns per game. I'm not sure Johnson is a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy at this point, but his resume is looking pretty good so far.
Roger Lewis - for one crazy stat line
I would say Roger Lewis is a big play waiting to happen. I'm not sure what gave me that idea, but it could be the fact that he averaged 37.3 yards per catch on Saturday. Wait, maybe it was the 94 yard touchdown. Actually, it could've been the 261 total receiving yards. Either way, you don't have to stop Roger Lewis to win, as Memphis showed on Saturday, but you also can't stop Roger Lewis, so just give up.
Johnson to Lewis. Wash, rinse, repeat. You simply can't stop those two. This time, 62 yards. Falcons lead Memphis 41-34.— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) September 19, 2015
For NIU, it was THAT close
Ohio State didn't have a ton of fun on Saturday and there's some folks getting stickers that played a huge part in that:
Shawun Lurry and the NIU Defense - Shouldn't we just expect this?
Stickers all around you crazy Huskies. I'm not sure anything NIU does should shock us at this point. I mean, when are we ever going to learn? The Huskies' defense forced Ohio State into perhaps its worst offensive performance in the Urban Meyer, and the Buckeyes almost paid for it with a loss. The defense as a whole refused to be bullied at the line of scrimmage and did not succumb to the Ohio State speed on the edge. As a result, only one offensive touchdown for Ohio State.
But the standout performer in the secondary was Shawun Lurry. Number 19 was everywhere in this game and found an Ohio State pass attempt in his hands on two occasions, unafraid of the Buckeye wide receivers and very happy that Cardale Jones started at quarterback for Ohio State.
We had not one, but two overtime thrillers on our hands this weekend, but only one went into the "W" column for the MAC. The loss went to the Central Michigan Chippewas, but they aren't leaving empty handed if I have something to say for it.
Ben McCord and Devon Spaulding - Fire Up
This isn't Titus Davis and Thomas Rawls by any stretch, but Chippewa fans should be confident going forward with the talent of these two players. Spaulding had a bit of a coming out party in week three, doing damage both on the ground and through the air to the tune of 185 yards of total offense. Ben McCord had a huge day, catching 10 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown from the tight end position, including a big fourth down catch to move the chains late in the contest.
While the Chips couldn't win one for the MAC this weekend, Toledo took care of it because of course they did. The Rockets had a very special player return to action this week in Kareem Hunt, but when he left in the second overtime, it was his backup that stepped up:
Damion Jones-Moore - the epitome of "next man up"
Jones-Moore only had 27 yards on six carries, but when the best running back in the Mid American Conference stepped out with an apparent injury, it was he who stepped up and took the ball 10 yards to the end zone. Jones-Moore's touchdown was the game winner, and is a prime example of how many people it can take to win a tight football game.
Last but not least:
Cody Grice - touchdown specialist
Is there a trophy more well suited for the topsy turvy nature of MACtion than the Piesman trophy? Cody Grice has my vote after the Akron D-Lineman found the end zone three times against Savannah State - on offense. I think Akron has a pretty viable goal line option with the 275 pound senior.