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Week 1: A tough week for the MAC

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Tyler Sheehan posted one of the bright spots in Week 1 of the NCAA season for the Mid-American Conference.
Tyler Sheehan posted one of the bright spots in Week 1 of the NCAA season for the Mid-American Conference.

Overview: The MAC had a tough go around in Week 1, going 3-10 overall and 0-4 versus the Big Ten. Winners were Buffalo, Bowling Green and Kent State; all MAC East teams. The three wins were not terribly impressive, however, it was good to see teams like Temple and Ohio in competitive games, especially Ohio versus Connecticut. Wisconsin beat themselves more in the second half than NIU did, but a 28-20 loss still looks good for the conference.

The High Point: Bowling Green trouncing Troy 31-14. Troy is tough opponent traditionally and usually makes bowl games with no problem. The game was close, 14-14 heading into the fourth quarter, until the Falcons tacked on 17 points. One of the potential stud MAC quarterbacks Tyler Sheehan was 32-for-44 passing for 339 yards and two scores. He did throw one pick. Freddie Barnes grabbed 15 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Willie Geter posted 49 yards on nine carries. Great win for BGSU to start of their season.

The Low Point: Ball State losing to North Texas 20-10. For this, let's compare last year's records: Ball State was 12-2, North Texas, 1-11. Redshirt freshman Kelly Page was as advertised when he ran with the ball (7-53) but was 15-for-34 throwing for just 140 yards, no scores and one interception. MiQuale Lewis carried the ball 15 times for 103 yards and a touchdown. The defense was the biggest letdown, as it allowed 296 rushing yards and 216 passing yards (Ball State had 169 and 140 respectively). The Cardinals really missed their opportunities. North Texas had nine penalties for 81 yards compared to 4-30. Turnovers were even but NT held the ball for over 37 minutes.

By The Numbers: 30. That's how many points were put up by the top four of the top five offenses in the MAC this week. Central Michigan scored six against Arizona, Western Michigan scored seven on Michigan, Ball State scored 10 and Akron scored seven on Penn State. I didn't have high scoring thoughts for the Zips but thought Ball State would roll, the Chips to score at 20 (lost 19-6) and Tim Hiller to get in a shootout in Ann Arbor. Hiller has the best excuse, his team has no defense so he was throwing a lot (38 times). He also apparently doesn't have an offensive line to stop Brandon Graham.

Biggest Hole To Fill: Northern Illinois had the top-ranked MAC defense last year and second most improved defense next to Navy in 2008. What helped the Huskies do that was a consistant pass rush of either Larry English, or the guy benefiting from the double teaming of Larry English. Against Wisconsin, the Huskies had no pass rush. In this case, hardly any of a pass defense. I thought I'd be more worried about Dan LeFevour's mediocre 18-for-31, 108 but once he hits MAC play he'll be back in form. NIU needs to address this quickly especailly with Purdue (52 points against Toledo), Tim Hiller and Toledo's passing attack on the horizon before the mid-point of the season.

Making A Statement: The MAC East showed up to play. Temple lost via last second field goal to Villanova, Bowling Green won decisively, Kent State shutout Coastal Carolina (as they should have), Buffalo won, Ohio played close and Akron faced a title contendor, so we'll let them off. The West faced tougher opponents but will be marred by Miami-OH's 42-0 loss to Kentucky, Ball State's shame, a lack of offense from its stud quarterbacks and a disappointing debut for Ron English. The West should be thankful Wisconsin broke down, as that game was on its way to ugly after a 28-6 score after three quarters.

This Week: Things don't look too much better in Week 2. It starts with a favorable matchup for Toledo against Colorado at the Glass Bowl. They have a chance to win. NIU should rout Western Illinois. Eastern Michigan draws Northwestern, Central takes on Michigan State, Western heads to Indiana and Akron duels with Morgan State, which might be comparable to a high school team after seeing Penn State. Ball State has New Hampshire and Ohio draws North Texas in two games with huge question marks after they was BSU and NT played last week. Now it gets ugly: Buffalo draws Pittsburgh but are at home so they can prove something here. Kent State travels to Boston College. Bowling Green takes on No. 25 Missouri who routed Illinois. Finally, Miami (Ohio) travels to No. 12 Boise State on the Smurf Turf.

Prediction Time: Toledo falls to Colorado; NIU wins big; EMU falls; Central loses again, Western beat Indiana; Akron rolls; Ball State wins; Ohio wins; Buffalo loses; Kent State loses pretty bad; Bowlling Green runs out of gas and falls hard; and Miami take a whipping.

Week's Record: 5-7