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Mid-American Mondays: Do We Know Anything?

All but two teams have gotten their first MAC game out of the way, but did it really teach us anything?

Western Michigan v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

It’s not uncommon for us to claim to know something is the case about the Mid-American Conference and then be proven to be clueless. Such is often the case with college football and sports in general. So Justin and Kaleb explore what they really know about the conference after the start of MAC play.

Do we know if Eastern Michigan is good?

Justin: No, we have no idea. 4-1 is an incredible start for a program with little success over the years, but the fact of the matter is wins over Mississippi Valley State, Charlotte, Wyoming and Bowling Green aren’t fooling anyone, and this team might still be .500 or worse. That’s not to say that EMU is a bad football team, but they still haven’t quite figured out their quarterback situation and with a game coming up against a Toledo team that just hung 50 on BYU, there’s some cause for concern.

Kaleb: I have some idea as opposed to no idea. But I don’t know anything to be honest. EMU is weird. This season is weird. I don’t mind it though. The EMU offense looks solid whether it’s Brogan BROback or Todd Porter in the game, and the offense has yet to struggle in any game this season really. While maybe you’d expect a better showing against a weak defensive team in Bowling Green, the Eagles will be just fine taking their MAC-opening victory over the defending MAC champs, even after surrendering a suspect amount (206) of rushing yards. I can tell you right now that we’re going to have a better idea how to answer this question in a few weeks after the workers employed at The Factory take to the gridiron against the likes of Toledo, Ohio and WMU over the next three week.

Is NIU good or nah? Is Ball State as good as we thought?

Kaleb: Okay, so remember when we all had some laughs at NIU’s expense and whatnot? That was fun, that happened. Now the Huskies are in conference play and ready to be treated seriously once more. Many of us jumped aboard the NIU IS BAD TIME TO RAIN DOWN WORD FIRE UPON THEM, but the Huskies showed us that their offense is ready to be good again and marched into Muncie and yelled “NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND” at us to let us know we should take them seriously. Anthony Maddie stepped into his role and said gimme this job and ran with it as the Huskies accounted for 653 yards as a team and Coach Rod Carey seemed to open up the playbook a bit more. The defense yielded just one second half score and Sean Folliard had himself a day with 17 tackles, a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. If the Huskies can start causing more turnovers, look out.

But perhaps it means we should be taking Ball State even less serious. Hmm...Perhaps more on that momentarily.

Justin: NIU is probably still bad, but I will say this: they scare the shit out of me. You don’t win the division six times in a row and not earn a bit of respect when you go on the road and beat a rival. That said, Ball State didn’t have me convinced before the game and they still don’t. I’m sure NIU fans want to believe that everything is going to be fine, but the Cardinals’ resume to that point was a weak one, and it’s far more likely we witnessed a shootout between two below average football teams than an upset and Huskie resurgence. NIU is absolutely a different and better team with Anthony Maddie under center and is going to cause some problems for the WMU defense next week, but the Huskie defense is a different story. Maddie won’t always go for a jillion yards per game, and not every defense is Ball State’s.

Do we know who the best team in the MAC East is?

Justin: Yes. And it’s Akron. I picked Ohio at the beginning of the season, but I’ve not seen anything from Ohio so far this season that has me confident in their ability to run the table in the East division. The Zips struggled against Kent State this weekend, which sounds weird before remembering Thomas Woodson didn’t even play. What is concerning to me is the Zips defense, a once vaunted unit that stifled everyone they played, that now gives up 27 points to Kent State and their fourth string quarterback/running back/wide receiver, Nick Holley. If Woodson’s injury looks to be more long term, then I might change my stance, but until then the East division goes through Akron, as weird as that sounds.

Kaleb: Okay, I know Ohio’s offense was a steaming crap pile against Miami, but the Bobcat defense continues to impress after that week one debacle. Without a health Woodson going forward, a defensive-minded Ohio team might just have the advantage when these two meet the last week of the regular season which could be for the MAC East title. While Akron feels like a more well-rounded team on a good day, are we sure that Akron, who has yet to impress on defense, is measurably better than OU? I guarantee you Kent doesn’t look near that good offensively with Nick Holley running for his life from Bobcats in Dix Stadium here in a few weeks.

Do we know WMU is better than Toledo?

Kaleb: No sir no sir. I went back and watched that Toledo-BYU game all the way through and that Rocket offense is phenomenal. I am entirely convinced that the Rockets have the best QB, RB and the second best WR in the conference. The O-line worked its way through a hectic second half and looked great. The defense was the only suspect thing, but I expected the game to be high-scoring. Western meanwhile, has week after week looked like the best and well-rounded team in the conference. I do wonder if the play-making abilities of someone like Darius Phillips give the Broncos the slight edge when these two meet in Kalamazoo in late November. While I have ranked WMU No. 1 in my power rankings since before the season started, Toledo did nothing to dissuade me from considering the Rockets a MAC championship caliber squad. The Broncos just dismantled a team that most of us had no business thinking could be beat that badly in conference play, and they did it minus-Jamauri Bogan. So no, I’m not certain any which way. Would still give the Fleckers a slight edge.

Justin: Absolutely not. I want very badly to get carried away with the Central Michigan win, but as someone that wasn’t all that high on the Chippewas in the first place, I can’t bring myself to jump on the 12-0 train yet. Toledo’s defense is a huge cause for concern, but until we see more, there’s not much reason to declare the unit a sieve just yet.

The Rockets and Broncos are two of the most talented teams in the conference, and they appear to be headed for a matchup with undefeated MAC records in the final week of the season (wouldn’t that be wild?) but as far as declaring one better than the other, I can’t do that. These teams are 1a and 1b until somebody loses - and it very well could be to each other. Besides, how can we possibly talk about this when NIU and all their devil-voodoo magic is still alive and well with a 1-0 record in the MAC? I’m scared, Kaleb. If they win a seventh straight MAC West crown I may need to find another planet to live on, because i’m not fit for this world.

Final Thoughts

Justin: Do we know why we say dumb things about first year head coaches? Nope, and that’s why the “Fire Mike Jinks” crowd in Bowling Green isn’t shocking anybody.

Wanting the first year coach at BG fired is, of course, idiotic. Nothing wrong with wondering aloud about its possibility as fans lament the hand they’ve been dealt. After all, the Falcons were just MAC champions, and are now one of the worst teams in the conference. But actually wanting Jinks fired this season is ridiculous, and anyone that thinks so should be ashamed of themselves.

Everyone wanted P.J. Fleck fired in Kalamazoo after a disastrous year one at the helm. I’ll admit, killing the “Row The Boat” experiment after losing to Nicholls sounded kind of nice. Now? I can’t imagine WMU without it. At least Mike Jinks won his first FCS game!

Will Bowling Green have a seven win turnaround in 2017? Who knows, but I do know there’s no way you can point to 2016 and say “I told you so” in the future. It’s going to get worse this season before it gets better, sure, but remember it always gets better. Not everyone stays in the basement for eternity - just look at Eastern Michigan.

Anyway, firing Mike Jinks would be dumb. Don’t be dumb.

Kaleb: There’s a lot of things that I claim to know are true about this conference, and I more often than not get left feeling silly at the end of the day.

Do I know if Chuck Martin is on the hot seat at Miami? I think I would have to say yes, but watch Miami plow through a dormant MAC East and make me look dumb.

Do I know if Buffalo is any good? I don’t think it is, but I’ve been more wrong in the past. And I’m okay with it. MAC football likes to keep us guessing, and that’s why I’m okay with knowing next to nothing for sure about this conference.