A funny thing happened on the way to Detroit: the Buffalo Bulls got lost in Athens.
Buffalo was not the only program to run into turmoil, as Toledo was able to survive a scare in Ypsilanti and Bowling Green got out of Bowling Green unscathed after an ugly result.
All these results combined to create a tie atop the Eastern Divison, as three teams are now tied for the lead with three games each to play. The Western Division, on the other hand, found a lot of clarity, as it would take a minor miracle for anyone besides Toledo to top the charts.
Rather than doing a standings table like last week, we’re going to to list the teams in their current spot and describe what it is they need to do to get to Detroit for the MAC Championship Game.
The Ohio Bobcats stand atop of the Eastern Division at 4-1 thanks to their four game winning streak. This occurred after their victory over the Buffalo Bulls to kick off the MAC weeknight slate. Getting the win over the previously-undefeated in-league Bulls ensured Ohio had an opportunity to top the charts on direct head-to-head, as they carried one loss into the contest.
They have games remaining, starting with a two-game road trip to blood rival Miami and their last cross-divisional game vs. Ball State before hosting their final home game of the season against Bowling Green. If they win all three, they are the Eastern Division representative in the Championship game.
They might be able to afford a loss and still be in, but that depends on what happens elsewhere in the division. All-in-all, a loss to Ball State would probably be the most affordable, but you can’t depend on that being a factor at this point.
Ohio directly controls their fates at present.
With their loss against Ohio, they are currently in second place at 4-1 due to the head-to-head tiebreaker. Their next game is on the road against Central Michigan (who has struggled as a host this season), and they end their season with a two-game home stand against Akron and Kent State.
Based on current standings, they should win all three of those games— but then, Buffalo was favored over Ohio and still lost, so anything goes at current. For Buffalo to make it to Detroit, Ohio and Bowling Green each need to lose at least once to allow Buffalo back into the proceedings. Since Ohio and Bowling Green face each other at the end of the season, it’s guaranteed one of those teams will pick up a loss, so as long as Buffalo goes 2-0 before then, they’ll have a chance depending on the results of Week 12’s games.
To put it shortly: Buffalo needs to win all three games and Ohio and/or BGSU need to lose at least once.
Bowling Green Falcons
Bowling Green is currently on a three-game winning streak, moving up to 4-1 in league play with a victory over Western Michigan this week. Their lone loss in the MAC came against Buffalo, putting them in third by head-to-head tiebreaker. The Falcons next host Kent State, who are in a must-win situation to keep thier postseason hopes alive, before finishing the year on the road with games at Toledo and Ohio.
In order for them to make it to Detroit, the Falcons must win out, and Buffalo must lose one more game. In that scenario, BGSU would hold the tiebreaker over Ohio to win the division.
Miami currently stand at 2-3, and are likely out of contention. But they;re not eliminated yet and could still play spoiler in the division regardless of if it advances their division hopes.
In order for them to stay in contention, they need to defeat Ohio when they face them on Tuesday. No other scenarios are possible without that win. After that, it goes without saying that they would have to win their remain games against Northern Illinois and Ball State to be considered a part of the MAC East race.
For the Detroit scenario, Miami would need Buffalo and Bowling Green to lose out. If the RedHawks manage to beat Ohio, they would then need Ohio to lose to Ball State and beat Bowling Green.
Kent State Golden Flashes
Kent State are also at 2-3. With their earlier win over Ohio, they hold the tiebreaker should it come down to that. The Golden Flashes would still need to win their three remaining games at Bowling Green, vs. EMU, and at Buffalo to be considered in contention. Even then, they would need Bowling Green and Buffalo to each go 1-2 in their remaining games.
Their Detroit destiny is reliant on getting help from the four teams above them.
Akron is ineligible for the postseason and the division title, having been eliminated a few weeks back. They can still spoil some hopes though, with Buffalo on the schedule on Nov. 19.
With their win over Eastern Michigan, they stand atop the division at 4-1. It’s rather simple for the Rockets from here on out: if they win outright, they will go to Detroit.
They have games remaining at home against Ball State, Bowling Green and on the road against Western Michigan. They have to beat Ball State to maintain the tiebreaker advantage, and can probably survive if they lose the other two games depending on the breaks due to the gap they hold on second place in the division.
Ball State Cardinals
Ball State currently stands at 3-2, with tiebreakers against Central Michigan and Northern Illinois. They would fall behind Eastern Michigan if EMU wins out and the Cardinals lose once.
So in order to maintain their chances, Ball State must beat Toledo when they face each other on Tuesday. In that scenario, they would need to win both games against Ohio and Miami to top the division on tiebreakers. They would also have a chance if Toledo stumbles against Bowling Green in the Battle of I-75, as BSU could get the cross-division tiebreaker dependent on results.
Eastern Michigan Eagles
At 2 and 3, Eastern Michigan would have to win outright to even have a chance at Detroit.
Their remaining games are at Akron, at Kent State and vs. Central Michigan. All three of those teams are beatable, which would mean Eastern Michigan can potentially finish 5-3 in-league.
In order to go to Detroit, they would need Toledo to lose all three of their remaining games. The Eagles would also need Ball State to finish 1-2, with their lone win vs. Toledo. EMU could withstand Western Michigan finishing the season with the requisite wins since they have the tiebreaker over them.
Western Michigan Broncos
Western Michigan is at 2-3, and lost control of their own destiny after a loss to BGSU this past week.
Their road to Detroit could get back on track if they beat Northern Illinois on Wednesday. After that, they travel to Mount Pleasant where they face Central Michigan and finish the season by hosting Toledo. Based on that, Western Michigan has to win all three to have their shot.
Similarly to EMU’s scenario, they would need Toledo to lose out. Uniquely, WMU would need EMU to lose at least two games as well in order to overcome the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Central Michigan Chippewas
Central Michigan is also at 2-3, much like EMU and WMU, but their paths to Detroit requires a lot to happen in front of them.
The scenario for them is simple: the Chippewas must win out vs. Buffalo, EMU and WMU to own those head-to-head tiebreakers, and Toledo and Ball State must lose out for Detroit to even be close to a possibility. If they cannot beat Buffalo this week, both the postseason and divisional hopes are dashed for CMU.
Northern Illinois Huskies
The Huskies are currently 1-4, and have lost out on the postseason. The best finish they can muster is 4-4 if they win out. This is a record which happens to be the worst that Toledo could finish, meaning NIU is out due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Last week started to present the title picture out with more clarity, but there’s still a lot to play for, especially where the East is concerned.
Perhaps next week will present new scenarios— or solidify what we have now.