1) The MAC Season kicks off this week with Ohio at Kent State. Who wins the first MAC Game of the year?
I'm going to go with Ohio. I know Dix Stadium will be an emotional place with Jason Bitsko's death still lingering over the program and the Golden Flashes looking to bounce back from last year's disappointment, but I think Ohio is a better team, even without Tettleton and Blankenship.
Frank Solich is a solid coach and I'm still not sold on Paul Haynes. Dri Archer and Roosevelt Nix are both gone as well, and Colin Reardon doesn't have too many weapons to throw to. It's just a bad combo. And the people in the Pick'em agree, with a 60-40 split favoring Ohio this weekend.
2) Is this the year Toledo finally gets over the hump? NIU is entering the post Lynch era and they have been the biggest thing in the Rockets way these past few years.
I'd have to think so. Even though NIU has the better conference schedule (see not having to face Bowling Green), Toledo really just has to beat the Huskies and not screw up in their other 6 games. Couple that with an incredibly weak MAC West this year, and the West should be Toledo's to lose.
That said, this is NIU we're talking about, who doesn't rebuild, but reloads. But, NIU has a brutal three-game stretch that has the Toledo home game sandwiched between trips to Muncie and Athens. Still, NIU gets Toledo at home, and they never lose in the Wind Tunnel.
I'm going with yes, Toledo does make the jump to Detroit this year. Now I'm moving on before I change my mind again.
3) What is your team's biggest game of the year?
As a WMU fan, I have to go with the EMU game for a couple reasons. Firstly, Idaho, Miami, and Murray State don't carry the rivalry factor, so despite being winnable games that you'd expect the Broncos to come away with wins from, if they lose to Idaho or Miami, it isn't as bad as EMU. Murray State is an FCS game and clearly shouldn't warrant discussion, but after last year's game against Nichols State. . . [chugs]
NIU, Purdue, Va Tech, Ball State, Toledo, BGSU, and Ohio are all tough games that wins would be nice, but not expected. I can't include them in "biggest game".
That leaves us with CMU and EMU. The Central game is in Mt. Pleasant, and the Chips should be somewhat decent this year. Also, the Broncos have beaten CMU in recent years, so that helps ease the pain in case of a loss. A loss to EMU, at home, would be killer. Remember that the Eagles have beaten the Broncos THREE YEARS IN A ROW. It's time Fleck and Company put everything together and put the ugly cousin back in its place!
On the flip side, a loss would almost assuredly be the mark of the season. The two remaining games would be the aforementioned CMU game and then hosting NIU at home, both would be losses if WMU falls to the Eagles. It would also mean that the season would probably end up 1-11 or 2-10 again, with little to no progress made. It'll be the make-or-break moment.