Welcome to the postseason version of Mid-American Mondays, and as luck would have it, the authors of this weekly post happen to have rooting interests in the MAC Championship Game. Thank you for joining us all season to talk about the MAC each week, trying to make sense of the nonsensical. A special shout out to Matt Hammond, who adds his two cents on each team every week in the comments section. I encourage you all to break the one rule of the internet - Don’t. Read. The. Comments. - and argue with us this week one last time before either P.J. Fleck or Frank Solich get a Friday night Gatorade shower.
Below is a lightly edited slack conversation between a Bronco and a Bobcat about the MAC Championship Game. Omitted are side conversations about The Walking Dead (which totally sucks now) and future Cincinnati Bengal great, Corey Davis.
A Champion Will be Crowned
Justin: Alright Kaleb. We’re normally friends, I think. But this week, the only game left in the MAC season includes our alma maters, meaning, we probably should fight about it.
Kaleb: I've had an itch all season that I needed to scratch and as long as you invite this scratching I shall ITCH. This is who I thought would be in the MAC title game from day one when we all sat down at the Hustle Belt HQ cubicles and concocted our wizardry to make our predictions for the season.
JC: I had the same two preseason champions, and I think it's a decent matchup for the conference despite the spread sitting at 19 points. Did you think this was possible given the revolving door at quarterback? After all, the bobcats are on, like, their eighth signal caller at this point.
KC: I knew it was possible, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a little nervous in the midst of the CMU game. It's well-documented that Ohio has had its struggles in November, but all the 'Cats had to do was put forth a strong defensive effort to defeat Akron, and that they did. The two-QB system didn't bother me too much, as the 'Cats have operated as such for basically three years now. I guess there's a chance that Windham could play yet and I personally wouldn't want to be the guy deciding who has to be the signal-caller Friday.
JC: Realistically, what can we expect from Ohio's defense against WMU? The Broncos just lit up a pretty good Toledo defense, after all.
KC: Toledo has shown itself prone to defensive troubles here and there, but you're right. The Broncos made the Rocket defense look silly. As for Ohio's defense, it all has to start with stopping the run. No doubt about it. Easier said than done. With Jamauri Bogan to assist Jarvion Franklin in carrying the load, can't say I'm not a bit nervous. I know Corey Davis will get his. I trust in this experienced Ohio coaching staff to be able to limit the effectiveness of the WMU offense a year removed from a shellacking in Athens. This will be a much more focused Ohio defensive unit. Does the Ohio defense make you nervous at all?
JC: The last time these two met, Quentin Poling went down early in the game, which I'm sure aided in WMU running all over the Cats. But yes, the idea of a team being able to make WMU one dimensional in any fashion is scary. I think Eastern and Northwestern were the only two teams able to take away the run and make the Broncos look uncomfortable, and those were the only two games where I thought at halftime "we're probably going to lose"
KC: True, and when Ohio has been plagued by injuries, things have gotten ugly at times in this program. That being said, I haven't been able to watch as much Bobcat football as I would have liked this season, but had my moments of joy in defeating Miami in ugly fashion, making Tennessee a bit nervous, and pulling out a momentous win at Toledo. I think Ohio stands a decent chance. Here's to hoping the run game can get established early and Dorian Brown gets a feel for things early. Right?
JC: Well I'm obviously hoping for the opposite. These two teams have some common opponents that make me think this shouldn't be close. But WMU has struggled to stop the run lately, and Dorian Brown is probably the player of the game if Ohio pulls off the upset
KC: I'm banking on the D-line being the heroes of the day and that the contributions of the Ohio offense will be just enough. How's that for simple analysis?
JC: Simple enough! So can the Bobcats move the ball on the WMU defense? The Broncos are down safety Justin Ferguson due to an injury in the Toledo game and linebacker Caleb Bailey for the first half due to targeting.
KC: I think..maybe...I mean..*sigh* the fact that the 'Cats had trouble offensively against Akron worries me, but I'm just hoping that we put enough together to pull this off. It would be nice to hope for turnovers and all that, considering Solich and staff often hang their hats on turnover differential, but dagnabbit, you all need to be turning the ball over more than once every two games for me to be optimistic about that. I think Ohio has to find a way to get its athletes to turn what would normally be marginal gains into gashing plays. Maxwell isn't going to burn too many WMU defenders unless the Bronco secondary has some huge lapses against the likes of Papi White and Sebastian Smith.
JC: Ohio's got to break some big plays. You're not going to beat Western by trying to out possess them. The Broncos seem to eat clock by choice, not by necessity, and if OU's long drives stall, WMU can unleash Corey Davis. The formula for Ohio is stop the run, finish drives, and don't turn the ball over. I'm basically in the running for the Purdue job now!
WMU is plus 18 in turnover margin though, so, easier said than done. Just ask Logan Woodside.
KC: I'm in the running at Purdue too. Don't tell anyone. Yeah, to be completely honest, Western has to mess up big a few times to give Ohio a chance. We saw Kent jump out on top of the Broncos and they didn't seem to even remotely panic. A lot has to come together for the Bobcats to take this.
That being said, OHIO IS SINKING THE SHIP. THE BOAT STOPS HERE.
And by here I mean Detroit
JC: My favorite matchup in this game is OU's front vs. WMU's offensive line. If the nation's leader in sacks as a unit can get to Zach Terrell as well as stop the run (the Bobcats are top five in nationally in rushing yards per game), you're going to have a ballgame on your hands. I think WMU's line answers the call and takes care of business, but I fully plan on the game being close enough for me to reach for the whiskey in the third quarter.
KC: I'm sure I'll be reaching for a bottle too friend, I MEAN FOE.
JC: Row damn boats.