In the back of the mind of every childlike fan such as myself, we are always dreaming big. It’s not a coincidence that I am making the drive to Toledo on Saturday to watch them play a nationally ranked team. It may be the only game I go to this season, and I want to make sure it has the potential to be an epic win. Baring an honest to goodness miracle, the best cap to a season that a MAC team can wish for is a New Year’s Six bowl game. In our world, it is the equivalent to a national championship. Sure there is a conference champion every year, but only about once a decade or so does a run like Western Michigan had in 2016 happen. Along with favorable bounces, hard work, and deft coaching, it takes national perception. Even though it is only week two of the season, I decided to take a look at the pulse of the nation, at least in regards to the MAC.
The only really terrible thing that has happened this season is that WMU got absolutely lambasted by Michigan. Sadly that is the team that the nation remembers going to the New Year’s Six out of the MAC. CMU dropping their game to Kansas was terrible in our corner of the world, but in the outside world, no one is really paying attention. Northern Illinois is generally the best chance for that type of success, and starting 0-2 pretty much kills their own chances on the season. However their losses were to power conference schools, so if they trip up a fellow MAC school later in the season, that might not be a death blow. Miami losing to two rivals, both in other group of 5 conferences doesn’t help, but that’s really about it for the bad news.
The saying is there are no moral victories in football. If there were such a thing, Ball State earned one for themselves, and the conference by staying with ND the entire game. For a moment it looked like ND was going to pull away and put up one of those final scores that doesn’t tell the story of the game, and paints the MAC in a bad picture, like the BGSU/Maryland score. While it is improbable that Ball State will make a big bowl run on their own, stranger things have happened.
However, I am going to focus individually on the teams that are still undefeated after week 2, and there are 5 of them. I am going to throw some stats by their name that really don’t mean much, and are pulled from my backside, but they will make the article look more official. The odds of any one of these teams going undefeated or finishing with one loss isn’t high, but I am just doing a what if they are scenario.
- Chance undefeated Rockets make playoffs: .05%
- Chance undefeated Rockets are New Year’s 6 bound: 95%
- Chance 1 loss Rockets are New Year’s 6 Bound: 75%
The Rockets are on the national radar for a variety of reasons. A rich tradition, Saban coached there, and Kareem Hunt, to name a few. A win over Miami virtually cements an undefeated Rockets team making the New Year’s 6. While it is always beyond a long shot for a MAC school to make the playoffs, Toledo has a better shot than most on any given year. Miami losing to LSU this year ended that.
- Chance undefeated Eagles make playoffs: .001%
- Chance undefeated Eagles are New Year’s 6 bound: 96%
- Chance 1 loss Eagles are New Year’s 6 bound: 50%
The Eagles don’t have the schedule to get to the playoffs, similar to WMU in 2016. Undefeated EMU gets to the New Year’s 6 most likely, because it is rare for multiple G5 schools finish undefeated, plus EMU already has a win against a B1G school. Interestingly enough, they play Army late in the year, which has the potential to be a huge game.
- Chance undefeated Bobcats make the playoffs: .001%
- Chance undefeated Bobcats make New Year’s 6: 99%
- Chance one loss Bobcats make New Year’s 6: 65%
Normally I would look at the Bobcats schedule and say that there is a solid chance they would miss out on the good bowl game, even if undefeated. However, it is no longer the 90s, and the rules have changed. Just like with the playoff committee, being undefeated means something. Also, Frank Solich making a New Year’s 6 would be a great national story, and “they” wont let that slip through their fingers.
- Chance of undefeated Zips making playoffs: .001%
- Chance of undefeated Zips making New Year’s 6: 98%
- Chance of one loss Zips making New Year’s 6: 55%
For similar reasons as the Bobcats, the Zips have a similar national perception. They would lose out to a “prettier” G5 school with a better schedule, but the odds of one of them going undefeated is tiny, and with only 1 loss is small.
- Chance of undefeated Bulls making the playoffs: .001%
- Chance of undefeated Bulls making New Year’s 6: 99.9%
- Chance one loss Bulls making New Year’s 6: 65%
What the Bulls have going for them is star power. Star power in the NFL from Khalil Mack and current star power. Both Tyree Jackson and Anthony Johnson are already on the national radar, and will continue to climb further and further up it as they rack up the stats.