After hosting the pre-season roundtable, we're back again asking questions after a rough week of MAC play. I'd like to thank everybody for coming out of their mourning states (see: this guy) and participating. Click through to see which teams are expected to bounce back plus our first-ever MAC Power Poll from the great minds of the MAC blogosphere.
1.) Starting out with some positives, Bowling Green and Buffalo both had pretty good victories representing the MAC East. Which one of these wins was bigger for the respective program and has your perspective on either of these teams changed since this weekend? Does UB upset Pitt next week at home?
Temple Football Forever, Temple: Bowling Green's win was the most impressive. Sheehan is a great QB, the Drew Willy of this year and Clausen is a good coach and BG beat a good and underrated program like Troy. Didn't Buffalo beat UTEP, 42-17, two years ago? I don't think UTEP is on Buffalo's level. I like Buffalo to beat Pitt if they can draw a good and supportive crowd.
Rasor on the Zips, Akron: Neither nonconference win does much for me. I think both teams showed they will be up toward the top of the East, but who won't be? UB won't upset Pitt.
Over the Pylon, Ball State: I think both victories are epic for the schools in question, but the bigger win was BG, considering what was expected of them this season by everyone not named OTP. If nothing else, it proves we were not in fact crazy or high or crazy high for picking BG to be in the MAC Championship. As for Buffalo, it was a good win, but far from a great win over a great opponent. It's not like they beat Wisconsin or anything. And no... they won't beat Pitt next weekend. They may keep it close, but anything under a 20 point Pitt win should be considered a success for UB.
Let's Go Rockets, Toledo: The Buffalo victory over UTEP was the most important for the program. After last seasons "cinderella run", the Bulls still have to prove they are no longer a bottom feeder in the MAC. Beating a CUSA team, on their home turf, and beating them without your star RB, is a great win for their program. Hard to say whether Buffalo can string it along two weeks in a row, and will definitely have their hands full with Pitt this week.
FalconBlog, BGSU: Well, I think that it was an important win for both teams. For BG, I thought it was important that the team showed a correction of so many of the weaknesses during the Brandon years, especially on defense. I like BG's chances in the East better than I did before the game. Buffalo's win was important in that it demonstrated to everyone that its deal with the devil concerning last second finishes is still in effect...so everyone is on notice.
I don't think UB will beat Pitt, but it is possible. Wannstedt has yet to show he can do anything but underachieve, and Buffalo will be highly motivated. That said, I'm not sure they have enough firepower.
Fire Up Chips!, CMU: As a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a Pitt season ticket holder I am pretty well versed in all things Panther. I think Buffalo has an excellent shot and upending Pitt given the internal turmoil they are suffering at the QB position. Bill Stull -- senior starter at QB -- was booed last Saturday when he threw one incompletion. He then proceeded to whine about in the post-game press conference. The locker room is torn between Stull and local kid Tino Sunseri (true freshman QB). If Buffalo can cause some of their famous turnovers and make "Wan-stache" [local name for coach Wannstedt] second guess himself, Buffalo might be able to score the upset. Pitts defense is legit though, top 25 in the country, so good luck Bulls.
Red and Black Atack, NIU: Both are great wins for their respective programs. Buffalo proved a lot of doubters wrong and Bowling Green made a huge statement beating the best team in the Sun Belt. I think BG has catapulted themselves in to the favorite in the MAC East right now with that victory, however they run in to a buzzsaw having to face the Missouri Tigers this week off of a solid spanking of the Illini. Expect Buffalo to upset Wannstache. It's a popular national pick and I am a Chicago Bears fan.
2.) Now 10 out of the 13 MAC teams lost this weekend, there's no sugar-coating that fact. What team disappointed or surprised you the most during opening weekend? What team do you see bouncing back the most?
TFF: Actually, Temple disappointed. Five turnovers, four were unforced. One of the two fumbles the running back cut into the hole wide enough to drive a truck through and just forgot to bring the ball with him. He dropped it on the carpet and the Nova DB picked it up and went 60. Shades of Navy last year. The three INTs McNabb-type INTs, where the QB throws the ball to the DB without a teammate within 20 yards of the play.
ROTZ: I was disappointed by CMU, WMU and Miami. I thought we'd see more out of these teams' offenses. CMU will bounce back. Not sure about the others.
OTP: Without doubt our Ball State Cardinals disappointed me the most. Aside from them being our team, they were playing a team that clearly shouldn't have dominated us the way they did. North Texas beat our asses from pillar to post, and it was an embarrassment of the highest order. The major teams, CMU, WMU, and NIU to be specific should have been more competitive, but when the rubber hits the road those are tough games. Temple and their FCS losing ways are a close second. And would be our answer if BSU hadn't shat their bed.
LGR: Toledo should bounce back after the defeat in West Lafayette, and win a close game at home against Colorado. We expect Western Michigan to have better luck against Indiana than they did against Michigan. Akron shouldn't have any problems with Morgan State and a Gary Pinkel led Missouri team, should handle BG like he did in his last season at Toledo ( a 51-17 smashing). Ohio might be able to win close against North Texas. Ball State should win against New Hampshire and Northern Illinois should beat their regional rivals, Western Illinois. Week 2 looks to be a more promising week for the MAC.
FB: I was most disappointed by CMU and EMU. CMU, because they had a game MAC teams used to consider winnable, and they laid a total egg. And EMU because, no matter how much you think they are finally turning the corner, they can still lose to Army. At home. As for a surprise, I felt NIU had a nice game against the Badgers. For a bounceback team, I'll take OU.
FUC: Central Michigan's offense was like Jim Carey in the Number 23 ....no it was like Mike Myers in Love Guru...no, no, it was like Eddie Murphy in Meet Dave. Whatever your "train wreck" movie analogy, scoring less than 5 first downs in the entire game and being held to 6 points is humiliating given out hype...we were a train wreck in Tuscon.
I think Toledo can finish what they started in West Lafayette -- they player Purdue pretty tough -- by stunning an imploding Colorado Buffalo team.
I don't think Western beating Indiana can be considered an upset either. WMU wins.
RABA: I fully expected WMU to give Michigan a solid test, but that blew up in my face. I thought Ohio would perform better against UConn at home. Western gets Indiana this week and I believe they bounceback and beat the Hoosiers. Also, I believe Toledo beats Colorado on a national stage after that Purdue loss.
3.) What positives can you take out of your favorite team's loss (or win in BG's case)? Where do you now see your team placing in your respective divisions after seeing them play for the first time?
TFF: If there was 1 turnover, instead of 4, Temple would have beat Villanova, 34-14. Hopefully, the guys who fumbled and threw INTs will be replaced.
ROTZ: Akron played hard and can definitely be proud about shutting out PSU in the second half. I still see them contending for the MAC East. As always, it will come down to a few plays in November.
OTP: Positives? Uh... all the lights worked. The field looked pretty. The TCom department got some good press from ESPN. That's about it. The bottom line of that game was that a bunch of freshman on offense played like freshman. To be expected. What wasn't expected was the coaching mistake of only giving Quale Lewis 15 carries. What wasn't expected was the defense getting run over like Dante Stallworth's neighbor. It was just screw up after screw up. If the team continues to play like that then we'll finish D.F.L. in the MAC West. The good news is BSU will learn a lot over the next two weeks. A home date with FCS New Hampshire and a road date with Army should... and I emphasize SHOULD... be just what the doctor ordered for this team to find their way.
LGR: The Rockets played much better than they did last season against the Boilermakers. Turnovers were costly, as well as big plays. The Rockets need to present a more balanced attack and rely less on the pass to save them. With Morgan Williams missing the Colorado game before he rejoins the team, we wouldn't expect to see the running game reestablished until he's ready. If the Rockets can win the turnover battle, we think they'll finish the season strong, close to the top of the MAC West.
FB: Well, my favorite team didn't lose, but I think the positives were a better deep passing game and the first game in which Bowling Green has unambiguously won the line of scrimmage. I believe Bowling Green has as good a shot as anyone in winning the East.
FUC: No injuries.
CMU's defense is legit. We will be first in the MAC in rush defense and middle of the pack in pass defense this year. A marked improvement.
RABA: Heart, a lot of heart. There were some mental mistakes, but I was happy my Huskies and fought back against the Badgers. Every other team in the West looked horrible and I'm feeling better that we might be in the race until the end of the season.
4.) It's time to take a step back and look at what has happened to the MAC since its success earlier this decade. When and how will teams in this conference become more like the Boise States and BYUs of the college football landscape?
TFF: That's a tough one. Doug Peterson was a good hire. So is Turner Gill. I like Kill of NIU. Golden hasn't beaten a winning team yet, so he's got a lot to prove. The MAC coaches will have to step up .
ROTZ: It will always be player-specific in the MAC. You need Nate Davises, Byron Leftwiches and Ben Roethlisbergers to win games. Average quarterbacks have never gotten a team national recognition in the MAC. If you can pull in the blue-chip quarterback, your program is certain to rise.
OTP: I'm not sure we ever could. Boise and BYU are not competing in the footprint of another major college conference. Boise State and BYU are in a conference that demands respect instead of just sitting on their hands and hoping things change. It's a combination of marketing, publicity, leadership, etc. What isn't helping is the fact that we're smack in the middle of BigTen/BigEast/Notre Dame country. Not cool and not easy.
LGR: Every year, the MAC schools play more and more top tier teams. This draws in recruits to play for MAC schools who weren't heavily recruited by bigger schools. In order to get a "Boise State-like" standing, a MAC team will have to win consistently, and not just in the MAC. Recruiting is a big key to that type of success as well. Over the past decade, more and more talent is streaming out of the MAC and directly into NFL programs, and this is a important recruiting tool for the MAC. It shows recruits they don't have to go to a big BCS school to have a chance to play at the next level. If MAC schools can take advantage of that MAC-NFL pipeline, they should be able to parlay that talent into more success for the conference.
FB: This is an excellent question. Things have clearly declined on the football front. The MAC's bowl game performance is putrid, and this weekend was just more of the same. (Even BG and Buffalo did not beat BCS teams). I believe that the previous success earlier in the decade was largely driven by the competitive pressure Marshall put on the MAC teams. You simply had to be better just to compete. Just as predictably, MAC football has fallen with the departure/decline of the Marshall program. I don't believe any of our teams will get to the level that Boise and BYU are until they can invest in their football programs at the level those schools do, and that will require an entire new league for fundraising and fan support.
FUC: Ohio schools are screwed. Bowling Green, Miami and Toledo used to get the few top flight recruits Ohio State overlooked or passed on. Now they all go to Cincy.
Look for WMU, CMU, BSU, and NIU to be your MAC champion until the Ohio schools in the MAC East can get the same level of recruits they used to get 7 years ago. Akron has a leg up with their new stadium.
As for the MAC schools cracking the top 25 on a regular basis? I don't see it happening. Look for FIU and FAU to start taking all the Florida kids MAC schools used to get as their programs improve making it even harder on us.
The only solution is to knock the perennial bottom feeders out of the conference in order to ratchet up the level of talent among a smaller group of conference members.
RABA: Recruiting, coaching stability. Perennially, the MAC gets the Big 10 table scraps but that conference has not been performing well as of late. Recruiting is moving more and more to the south and teams like CMU, WMU & NIU are taking notice. There's so much coverage of recruiting now with your Nike/Scout/UnderArmour camps, that good players are going to go to good schools and those diamonds in the rough are found more easily. And it's hard to build up a program if coaches are constantly bouncing around all over the place, you have to keep starting over.
Another thing is dynamic offensive systems. Why haven't any MAC teams implemented the triple option? And why is EMU going to more of a pro-style offense? The spread really evens teams out and gives the small guys a better chance to win games.
5.) I think it's time for a MAC Power Poll. Just rank teams in the MAC from 1 to 13 and we'll compile the rankings weekly.
1. Buffalo (Average ranking: 2.00) (1 first-place vote)
2. Bowling Green (2.57) (4)
3. Central Michigan (3.43) (2)
4. Northern Illinois (4.57)
5. Western Michigan (5.71)
6. Kent State (7.00)
7. Akron (7.29)
8. Toledo (7.43)
9. Ohio (7.57)
10. Temple (9.14)
11. Ball State (10.00)
12. Miami OH (11.71)
13. Eastern Michigan (12.14)
How does Buffalo rank ahead of BGSU, who had 4 place votes??? Ask LGR, who ranked his rival Falcons 8th in the MAC. Interesting...