Welcome back to Mid-American Mondays everyone. We couldn’t really decide on a main topic for this week because there’s a lot to unpack in this conference season so far, so we decided hey, why not talk about as much as possible with no discernible structure? After all, it’s what you’ve come to expect from us, I’m sure. And if it’s not, well, thanks for reading anyway!
NIU is probably officially done. Maybe.
Justin: I never get the opportunity to say this and be (probably) right, but NIU is done. They’re still sort of in the running for a bowl game I guess, but they’re toast in the MAC West for the first time in a long time. Cause of death? To date, it’s not beating Central Michigan - again. The Chips own the Huskies, which, is a feat in and of itself considering NIU’s dominance over the conference as of late.
The schedule gets a lot easier for the next two weeks as the Huskies get set to host Buffalo and Bowling Green, but given how the Falcon offense might be coming around (more on this later), this is far from a sure thing. Getting to 3-2 in the conference headed into the Toledo game would mean Rod Carey is going to have to ask the Huskie gods for one final drop of NIU devil magic to upset Toledo and maybe hang onto his job. Winning that game would just be classic NI-voodoo at work.
Kaleb: Central Michigan is the *poorly constructed comparison* of the MAC when it comes to having Northern Illinois’ number. Once again, the Chippewas made Huskie fans miserable by taking them down, but probably just when NIU fans had hope that something good might come of this season.
NIU really is done. A bowl game is out of the question. Who could have possibly guessed we would be at this point with this team? (Well, my first guess are the Fire Rod Carey people).
This team is playing for the sake of pride in the program now.
We have a winner
Justin: Kaleb, I know watching Miami suffer is in your top ten favorite things to do in life, but the suffering has taken a week off. The RedHawks won a division one football game for the first time in 2016, and against fellow lost-to-an-FCS-school opponent Kent State. I feel like Miami is entirely capable of making a run to end this season. They have games against Bowling Green, Buffalo and Ball State remaining on the schedule, so they could actually get to four wins and make things a bit more comfortable for Chuck Martin.
Kaleb: Miami won the battle of the ugly. #TrustTheProcess. That’s right Rinard I’m calling you out! But I don’t disagree with Coffin here. This team still has the potential, especially on the defensive side, to make life difficult for a few lower-rung MAC squads to end the season.
Justin: Brogan Roback sighting in Peden Stadium? What in the world is going on? 347 yards and three touchdowns? Three straight road wins for the first time since 1967? Defense? You know, I’m starting to think Eastern and Northern Illinois switched programs for a year, because everything is just oh, so weird. But we still don’t know everything there is to know about Eastern. They have a date with Western Michigan this weekend and, well, that’s when we’ll know how good the Eagles really are. For what it’s worth, they’re greater than 20 point underdogs headed into Waldo Stadium (which is totally fair, by the way) and will be playing the best offense they’ve seen all year.
We should talk about Ohio, too. I’ve been asking for the last couple weeks about how good we think they are, and not to discredit EMU, I think we’ve found our answer. This looks like an average football team with a supremely talented defense, but with an offense that struggles to come up with points in big moments. But I’ll let you take the lead on Ohio, since you know them best. What’s going on with the Bobcats?
Kaleb: I think EMU might just be good and it’s actually fun to watch. I was a doubter. I am no longer a doubter.
The Eagles have proved hard-nosed enough to take down a Solich-coached Bobcat program that bills itself as such (gritty, blue collar) and whatnot. Chris Creighton is working miracles.
Barring the most EMU thing ever, the Eagles must win one game against any of these teams: Miami, WMU, NIU, CMU, in order to become bowl eligible. They outworked the Bobcats in Athens. Impressive yes? Brogan Broback as you note, keeps finding ways to wreck worlds, and different wide receivers keep popping up with important performances for the Eagles. It’s a fun team to pay witness to as of late.
As for OHIO, I don’t know. I’m kind of a bit sad but EMU is no longer the type of team you should be super-sad to lose to.
The Ohio secondary - along with important pieces in the run game it typically depends on - was decidedly banged up. The defensive line was able to get pressure on the Broganator, but wasn’t disruptive enough to keep the Eagles off the board in the second half. What with Greg Windham looking lost throughout the first, the Bobcats seem to have a QB situation that has some scratching heads, which hasn’t been uncommon the last few years under Solich. All of this being said, the Bobcats still have the inside track to the MAC East as long as Akron plays like it did against WMU, and let’s not kid ourselves, this looks like the best MAC team since the NIU team that went to the Orange Bowl.
Battle for I-75 result - something, or nothing?
Anytime a 30 point favorite is as underwhelming as Toledo was Saturday everyone wants to declare them a bunch of frauds, but I’m less convinced. It’s certainly not the result any of us expected, including Toledo I’m sure, but it’s still a rivalry game prior to a crucial game against CMU. I think Toledo will be okay. Think of it this way, the best version of Bowling Green still couldn’t beat average Toledo. Sad!
The defense is a small concern (but when you can win shootouts like that, who cares?), giving up five touchdown passes to an offense struggling to find ways to win is never good form, but James Morgan is a talented young quarterback. And how about Scott Miller? The Falcons seem to still have a bit of big play ability going forward.
Kaleb: This person writing this right here picked Toledo as his MAC fantasy league defense. That’s starting to look kind of dumb isn’t it? Despite having some talented pieces on the defense, Toledo is struggling. Guess it doesn’t hurt that James Morgan showed flashes of his incredible potential to keep BG in this one.
Ball State - Buffalo happened
Justin: It would be dishonest of me to tell you I was excited about this game going into the weekend. The Cardinals actually trailed in this game at the break, but quickly got it turned around behind a monster performance from James Gilbert. I should probably save that sentence for the future, as I’ll likely need it.
I think this would have been an inexcusable loss for Ball State, even though they’ve got some serious issues of their own, especially defensively. I don’t know that a win for Buffalo here would have moved the excitement needle or anything, but I don’t know if the version of this squad that beat Army will emerge any time soon.
Kaleb: Buffalo continues to be the team that just seems entirely uninteresting to follow. I hope the Bull Run folks aren’t in too much pain.
Justin: I mean basketball season, A.K.A the five month build up to a Buffalo championship, starts soon. They won’t be unhappy for long.