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2016 MAC Championship Preview: Ohio Bobcats

Ohio looks to spoil Western Michigan’s season and take home their first MAC Conference Championship

NCAA Football: Ohio at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Ford Field hosts the 20th annual MAC Championship between the 8-4 Ohio Bobcats and the 12-0 Western Michigan Broncos. This will be the third year out of five one of the teams is in the AP Top 20. The Bobcats come into the game playing the role of David listed anywhere between 17 and 19 point underdogs. The Bobcats biggest challenge is going to be stopping the high powered Western Michigan offense. Western Michigan ranks ninth in points per game at 42.5 points in the country due to Zach Terrell their star quarterback and wide receiver Corey Davis. Terrell has completed 71.7 percent of his passes for 3,086 yards, 30 touchdowns and just a single interception. In reality those numbers are video game like and have been a major reason the Broncos are undefeated. Davis projects as one of the first wide receivers taken in the 2017 NFL Draft and he also recently broke the NCAA record for career receiving yards.

The Bobcats season was up and down as they started off the season with an ugly loss to Texas State in triple overtime. They then closed their non conference schedule with two blowout wins including Kansas on the road an losing a winnable game at Tennessee. Once MAC play began the Bobcats we’re 2-2 looking for an identity and their defense began to create that each week. The Bobcats allowed 17 points a game through their eight conference games. It played a huge a roll especially against Akron where the offense wasn’t able to get going but the defense held the Zips at bay.

The hard part for the Bobcats great rushing defense is that while if they try to eliminated Terrell and Davis the Broncos have one of the greatest running back tandems in the nation. Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan our part of the rushing attack that averages 247.3 rushing yards a game. It will be strength against strength as Ohio’s rush defense is it’s bread and butter. A name to keep on eye on is star freshman defensive back Javon Hagan who has forced eight turnovers this year. Hagan figures to play a key role in the Bobcats defense as he has an eye for the ball and forcing turnovers.

While Western Michigan is getting all the mentions of their high powered offense don’t sleep on the Bobcats. The Ohio duo of Greg Windham and Quinton Maxwell has combined for 17 touchdowns to just seven interceptions while throwing for 2618 yards and a 56% completion percentage. Maxwell has been thrown into the starter role as Windham has been battling leg injury and is questionable for Friday’s game. The senior has been a great mentor to the young quarterback and if he’s unable to go will be crucial for the Bobcats on Friday night. Not only to help Maxwell get through a tough opponent but a potential hostile environment as well with so much on the line for the Broncos.

Game Prediction: Western Michigan Broncos 38 Ohio Bobcats 9

The Broncos will prove to much for the Bobcats defense I envision a close first quarter but PJ Fleck’s game plan will prevail. Terrell will throw for at least three touchdowns and Davis will add another chapter to an already storied career. Fleck will get that elusive MAC Championship after finally breaking NIU’s six year streak of representing the MAC West. It’s going to be quite the game and I’ll be excited to cover it on Friday night 7pm Eastern on ESPN 2 at Ford Field.