It’s been a pleasure writing this piece, and I want to thank all of the bots that stop by for a few minutes each week to read. For the dozen or so of you who are human, it’s amazing to connect over some MAC football, and more importantly to give recognition to some outstanding athletes.
It’s not that my recognition means a damn thing - it shouldn’t - but I think it’s important to acknowledge performances other than those that earn MAC West/East player of the week honors. I hope this column highlighted for you some of the players that flew under the radar, and maybe caused you to look up an athlete or two you were previously unfamiliar with.
With that, we have our final regular season helmet stickers to give out, and the final week was a fun one. Bowling Green put three running backs over 100 yards again and ended their season on a three game winning streak. Formerly 0-6 Miami nearly won a division title, and Ohio actually did win it thanks to a strong defensive performance. Western Michigan left no doubt about who the West’s best team is, and Toledo is left a game shy of a MAC Championship appearance once again. We also found out today where Eastern Michigan is going bowling, and it looks like the Bahamas Bowl is going to get its third different directional Michigan team in as many years.
WR KeVonn Mabon, Ball State - 11 catches for 122 yards, TD vs Miami
Mabon had a career year for the Cardinals, catching 85 passes for 972 yards. He wasn’t much of a touchdown threat in his time in Muncie (he caught just 12 in his entire career), but he’s a big time target that made a ton of plays in 2016. His 11 catch performance helped nearly upset the MAC Championship seeking Miami RedHawks last week and put on display what the senior is fully capable of. One can only wonder what Mabon’s career might have looked like with better quarterback options in his final two years at Ball State.
DB Heath Harding, Miami - 7 tackles, 6 solo, 3 PD, INT vs BSU
LB Quentin Poling, Ohio - 9 tackles, 5 solo, sack, 2 TFL vs Akron
RB Blake Banham, EMU - 18 carries for 120 yards, TD vs CMU
WR Corey Willis, CMU - 7 catches for 125 yards vs EMU
WR Corey Davis, WMU - 8 catches for 81 yards, TD vs TOL
QB George Bollas, Kent State - 390 all purpose yards, 3 TD vs NIU
RB Donovan Wilson, BGSU - 25 carries for 107 yards vs UB
RB Josh Cleveland, BGSU - 16 carries for 109 yards vs UB
LB Khalil Hodge, Buffalo - 16 tackles, 11 solo, TFL vs BGSU
TE Michael Roberts, Toledo - 4 catches for 61 yards, 3 TD vs WMU
“Is that...a lineman?”
That’s something I heard while in the stands at WMU vs Toledo Friday night. Michael Roberts is a very big human being, even for a tight end, but he isn’t eligible for the Piesman Trophy to my knowledge. But he’s not just some big dude, Roberts has a diverse skill set, and you don’t need this hack of a blogger to tell you that. You can just see for yourself:
He’s going to make an NFL team very happy someday.
WR Rokeem WIlliams, Miami - 6 catches for 145 yards, 2 TD vs BSU
WR Dieuly Aristilde, EMU - 4 catches for 92 yards, TD vs CMU
RB Devon Spalding, CMU - 11 carries for 85 yards, 3 TD vs EMU
QB Zach Terrell, WMU - 19/25 passing for 196 yards, 3TD vs TOL
LB Asantay Brown, WMU - INT for TD on opening play vs TOL
S Kevin Bourne, Kent State - 21 tackles, 15 solo vs NIU
LB Nick Cuthbert, Kent State - 19 tackles, 10 solo vs NIU
RB Joel Bouagnon, NIU - 29 carries for 133 yards, 2 TD vs KSU
RB Fred Coppet, BGSU - 20 carries for 160 yards, 2 TD vs UB
WR Marcus McGill, Buffalo - 6 catches for 142 yards vs BGSU
WR Sergio Bailey II, EMU - 6 catches for 104 yards, TD vs CMU
With under 30 seconds remaining in the game, Sergio Bailey had just five receptions for 80 yards. It was a good night, not a great one. That all changed after Brogan Roback hoisted a first down pass into the air towards Bailey from the CMU 24, and despite being covered almost perfectly, Bailey came down with the game winning touchdown reception.
QB Gus Ragland, Miami - 26/35 passing for 380 yards, 3 TD vs BSU
Ragland played well on senior night in Oxford, nearly passing for 400 yards against Ball State, but all that matters in the end is that the RedHawks won, just as they have in every game Ragland started in 2016. A lot had to go right for the 0-6 RedHawks to get to bowl eligibility, but you can bet Ragland had a lot to do with the reduced turnovers and winning close games. Now, improbably, Miami has a chance to go 7-0 following six straight losses, something I don’t see happening ever again.
RB Jamauri Bogan, WMU - 31 carries for 198 yards, TD vs TOL
Bogan hasn’t played a heavy role in the Bronco offense since the Central Michigan game in early October, but played against Toledo like he never missed a game. He was out shined a bit by Toledo’s Kareem Hunt (more on that later), but was a huge component of a WMU offense that could not be stopped on Friday night.
RB Kareem Hunt, Toledo - 20 carries for 200 yards, TD vs WMU
Kareem Hunt needs a lifetime achievement award or something when his career ends at Toledo (perhaps an NFL paycheck will suffice). He was the only reason the Rockets could stay within striking distance of Western Michigan on Friday night, gashing the Broncos over and over again for big runs, seemingly always able to make the first man miss. Hunt averaged 10 yards per carry, which is absurd when you consider WMU entered the game giving up 4.6.