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MAC Bandwagon Podcast, ep. 60: Taking a look at Ball State and Buffalo

The boys wrap up their pre-season previews by taking a look at the two teams who made it to Ford Field in 2020

Illustration: James H. Jimenez; photos courtesy of Wikipedia Commons, James H. Jimenez, Kenneth Bailey

Happy Friday folks! We have actual football games this week! (Not MAC games, but still...)

Next week at this time, we’ll have MAC games to preview, and boy are we excited about it. Before we get there, we have two final season previews to bring you this week. Ball State and Buffalo won their respective divisions last year and met at Ford Field, with the Cardinals walking away with a 38-28 victory and their first MAC title since 1996.

To start off the show this week, Zach and Steve jump right into their preview of the Bulls. Lance Leipold left for Kansas in March, leaving Buffalo with a shortened time span to find a new coach. Maurice Linguist was hired shortly thereafter, after having spent 2020 as the defensive backs coach for the Dallas Cowboys. He spent much of the decade before that bouncing around the college football universe, and was actually the DB coach at Buffalo from 2012-2013.

Along with the transition in the coaching staff, the Bulls experienced a ton of turnover on their roster as well. Jaret Patterson is gone to the NFL, three offensive lineman are gone, as are a number of big contributors on the defense. QB Kyle Vantrease and RB Kevin Marks lead the way on offense, as does James Patterson on the defensive side of the ball. There is still talent here. The question is, how will the new staff plug the holes left by graduation and the transfer portal? The answer to that question could determine the success of the Bulls season.

In the west, Ball State returns 20 of 22 starters and have their sights set on another MAC championship. Drew Plitt, Justin Hall, and a veteran offensive line lead a high powered offense, and the linebacking corps leads what could be one of the best defenses in the conference. Can the offensive line improve in pass protection? Can the pass defense improve? If the Cardinals can answer those two questions, they have all of the other tools they need to repeat as conference champions.

Thanks for stopping by this week, folks. We look forward to talking about some actual games next week! We’ll get the episode out a day early so that you have it prior to the three MAC games Thursday night. Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back here next week!