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Mid-American Mondays: The Great East-West Divide

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West good. East bad. A wild week one.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The Great Divide

By now you’ve seen the results and know how your team did this weekend, which means your favorite MAC East school likely embarrassed itself. But hey, don’t let it get you down. If everyone else in the division is on the verge of being called a dumpster fire on the internet, you can win the division by being the least fiery dumpster, and don’t we all aspire to that? It’s 2016, and yes, even you can win this division, Miami.

The story was way different for the West, who nearly went 5-0. We have to examine what went on this weekend, and more importantly, look at some story lines going forward.

Thoughts on the East

Justin:

The MAC East is a mess, and it didn’t take long to get there. Just one week! I have plenty of thoughts on this, but I’ll keep it short-ish.

Tyree Jackson should be the starter in Buffalo. The Bulls cannot risk going on with Grant Rohach. Jackson is the clear number one option, and may have even prevented the loss to Albany had he been playing the entire game. In a weak, wide open division, Jackson could be enough to take the sting out of the Albany loss.

Ohio needs some answers on defense. The green and white Bobcats held Texas State to just 2.5 yards rushing per attempt, but allowed the other Bobcats to complete 73% of their passes at 7.9 yards per attempt. That is, as the kids say, absolutely horrendous. If they don’t figure it out, even Kent State will move the ball on them.

Who’s going to play quarterback at Bowling Green? James Knapke’s got a week, maybe two, to prove he’s the guy for the Falcons. If his 12 for 33 and two interception day passing is just a fluke, he’ll be fine. If not, the James Morgan era should and will begin.

Kaleb

It was bad. Ask BG how bad it was.

I mean, it’s no secret that the other side of the conference is stronger, but some of these results from week one sure are something...LORDY EAST SIDERS. Buffalo, take a seat (I think Wisconsin-Whitewater would beat Albany), BG gave up a school total yardage record to Ohio State, Ohio lost at home to some supposedly worse-off Bobcat brethren. Some other stuff happened, but it was less sad for the East side than these games.

Put the crying Jordan face on BG and I won’t be upset. Otherwise, Ohio and Buffalo can’t lose these games and expect to be taken seriously. Then there was that Kent State passing game which looks like a JV squad going up against defenses most weeks. Haven’t the Golden Flash folks up there had enough of watching that? At least they ran the ball well in this game.

Winning in the West

Justin:

The West was favored in just three games, and won five of them - should’ve been six - which says all you need to know about the division’s strength.

Is Brogan Roback done at EMU? I know it’s against Mississippi Valley State, but leading a team to an offensive performance like we saw on Saturday is a pretty good case for Todd Porter to be the starter in the near future, especially if there’s some sort of rift between Chris Creighton and Roback should he come back at all.

Props to Ball State. I doubted the Cardinals could win, let alone win convincingly as a road underdog. But is Riley Neal’s play a cause for concern? I think so. If Ball State wants to make noise in the MAC West they’re going to need better quarterback play.

Has Toledo been the best team in the MAC this whole time? The Rockets looked pretty damn convincing Friday night. The Arkansas State game was supposed to be one of the best of the evening, but Toledo did its job in disappointing everyone. The WMU Hype train may be approaching critical mass, but I’m sure the Rockets have plenty to say about that.

Kaleb:

Things were much less sad for the west side of the conference. Imagine that.

NIU was the only team to lose (so much for Coffin and I thinking they’d probably go undefeated out of conference). Otherwise, the Broncos showed their mettle and validated Scott Van Pelt, Toledo easily dispatched of those Arkansas State posers, Ball State started the Neu era off right, EMU was dominant (yeah you read that right), Central took care of business, and at least it took NIU 7,000 feet of altitude and 3 OT’s to lose.

I watched the Huskies into the late hours and they did not perform well for much of the game. Good thing Kenny Golladay has little sprinkles of whatever God you believe in inside his beating heart.

Otherwise, WMU and Toledo easily looked like the strongest teams in the conference, though EMU might have had as dominant a performance as anyone. Regardless of what almost always happens toward the end of the season, you’ve gotta think that the WMU is the favorite to row the boat to Detroit.

Biggest Surprise, Disappointment and Most to Prove Week Two

Justin:

Surprise: Ball State

Ball State won a game they weren’t supposed to in Atlanta. Not bad for Mike Neu’s first game at the helm. The Cardinals looked like a long shot to go bowling before the season started, but now have drastically increased their chances of doing so.

Disappointment: Ohio

The Bobcats lost the first ever Bobcat Bowl. This can never be forgiven.

Most to prove week two: Northern Illinois

If you asked me before 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning I’d have said Buffalo in their trip to Nevada, but the Huskies now have to play with a serious chip on their shoulder. The Wyoming loss is almost definitely a fluke, but a poor showing at South Florida would certainly raise some questions.

Kaleb:

Surprise: EMU

Did anyone here have EMU putting up 61 points in any game this season? Welcome to the starting job Todd Porter. That offense didn’t miss a beat without Roback. Regardless of the fact that MVSU was a weak opponent, this is still shocking as hell.

Disappointment: Buffalo

Talk about a disappointing opener. I’m sure most folks expected to see improvement year two under coach Leipold, but week one didn’t indicate anything toward that happening. The Great Danes are a team that went 3-8 in the FCS a year ago. It was the program's first win against an FBS program EVER. Though the Bulls outgained the Great Danes by nearly 200 yards (423-238), they did not manufacture points. It has to be the Tyree Jackson show from here on out at QB, and Jordan Johnson will have to build off of a decent opener.

Most to prove: Kent State offense

The Golden Flashes find themselves here because despite what continues to be an incredibly good defense, the offense is still bad. If Nate Holley’s tackles and Terrence Waugh’s play-making abilities accounted for points of sorts, then Paul Haynes and crew would be just fine. Until then, the Flashes might want to find a quarterback to stick with, and a few wide receivers will have to show they can step up in the absence of Antwan Dixon. There were glimmers of hope on the offensive side on the first two possessions in Happy Valley when the Flashes drove a combined 113 yards for two attempted field goals. 200+ yards on the ground is great, but to me, they have to prove they can keep that up and couple it with an actual passing game. This upcoming week’s showdown with North Carolina A&T needs to be a display of what the Flashes can do offensively without giving away anything too special on film to future MAC opponents. Let’s see if they can prove something.