FoSat MAC Football Recap: Week One

Photo by: Kaleb Carter, Creston News Advertiser/Osceola Sentinel Tribune Sports Editor

Welcome back to the college football season, MAC fans. Week one is in the books, and there’s a good chance your favorite team lost or beat an FCS school. Shout out to Eastern Michigan with the first FBS win of the season.

Head on over to our power rankings to see how good we think your team is (not very), and feel free to argue with us on Twitter @Fosatblog. If you’re mad about those rankings and want to make fun of my gambling picks instead, you can review the Mid-American Gambler from last week and laugh. Lastly, if you need a helping of MAC football podcast for your lunch break/morning commute, Tuesday Night Lights Episode Two is now live.

What Happened?

Buffalo fell to Minnesota 17–7
Raise your hand if you saw Buffalo with the relatively strong opening week. The Bulls have to be excited about their defense, especially Khalil Hodge who recorded 20 total tackles in Thursday’s game. The offense? We don’t talk about the offense.

Toledo routed Elon 47–13
The Rockets started slow, but finished strong behind a 21 point fourth quarter. Nothing much to see here. Oh, except for Shakif Seymour. Hello, Shakif Seymour!

Central Michigan avoided disaster against Rhode Island 30–27
CMU entered the week leading everyone to believe the battle at quarterback battle between Tony Poljan and Shane Morris was still raging on. But since Morris threw 49 passes to Poljan’s five, it’s probably been Morris all along. With Morris, the Chips needed three overtimes to best FCS Rhode Island at home, so it can only go up from here, right?

Eastern Michigan takes care of Charlotte at home 24–7
After opening the game with a seven play drive ending in a fumble, the Eagles snagged a takeaway of their own in the form of a Brody Hoying pick-six. Charlotte answered on their next drive but would never find the end zone again. A no nonsense opener from Eastern Michigan with limited drama is not how these things are supposed to go, but 2017 is weird.

Northern Illinois misses late kick, loses to Boston College 23–20
It’s never easy when a MAC school’s victory or defeat hinges on the foot of a kicker given the track record at that position. NIU reminded us why on Friday night, as Christian Hagan missed a 39 yard field goal with 21 seconds left that would have tied the game.

Western Michigan runs out of gas, loses to USC 49–31
With 7:54 remaining in the game, Darius Phillips returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 28 a piece. The upset nobody thought would brew was totally brewing, until it wasn’t. Five-star freshman Stephen Carr made sure USC stayed on top, and gave Jake Olson an opportunity to snap for an extra point in a truly touching moment.

Kent State loses to Clemson 56–3
Nothing to see here, folks. The Flashes had more three-and-outs (9) than first downs (5). That’s about all you need to know.

Akron shut out at Happy Valley 52–0
Saquon Barkley is the best running back in the country, and his skills were on display against Akron. The Zips are still looking to get back to their 2015 defensive prowess, and Saturday showed there’s still some work to do. Same with the offense, which didn’t tally 100 yards in either the passing or running game.

Ball State nearly trips up Illinois on the road, falls 24–21
The Cardinals nearly pulled off the upset over the Illini in a battle of teams picked to finish last place in their respective divisions. Morgan Hagee’s 54 yard field goal attempt was blocked, denying the Cardinals a shot in overtime. In a bit of a shocker, the Ball State defense allowed just 216 total yards.

Bowling Green misses early opportunities, falls to Michigan State 35–10
The Spartans gifted the Falcons a pair of fumbles early on in the game, but James Morgan and company were unable to capitalize. Morgan completed just 10 passes on Saturday, and the running game was stifled by the Spartans, gaining just 67 yards on the ground.

Miami special teams struggles, falls to Marshall 31–26
Oh, what could have been for Miami this week. They surrendered a touchdown on the opening kickoff, then did it again late in the second quarter. Late in the third quarter, a Gus Ragland pass was picked off for a 72 yard score. The defensive play is encouraging, but it stings losing a game in that fashion.

Ohio takes care of Hampton 59–0
No Texas State style let down this year. Ohio rolled over the Pirates on Saturday night, giving plenty of snaps to plenty of players. Seven different Bobcats recorded carries, all pitching in to the 248 yard rushing total for the day.

What We Learned/What We Think We Know

Darius Phillips is a bad, bad man
Phillips is going to be everywhere for the Broncos this season, and was everywhere on Saturday. He recorded an interception and a kick return for a touchdown — a pretty big one, at that. We already knew Phillips was in for a big year, but Saturday’s performance was a pleasant surprise against USC.

NIU is going to struggle at quarterback
If Ryan Graham really is the best option for the Huskies right now, then it could be another long year in Dekalb. Even so, NIU nearly upended Boston College, and probably should have, but it may have been more comfortable with improved quarterback play. Boston College is an extremely good defense, so maybe the credit goes to them, but Graham hasn’t shown anything in his career to indicate a breakthrough is coming.

Western Michigan will run the football — a lot
When Kevin Johns took over at offensive coordinator upon Tim Lester’s return to Kalamazoo, we knew the Broncos would look to the ground game first. But against USC, the WMU blueprint was laid out in full, and it included a lot of carries with a little Jon Wassink sprinkled in. WMU rushed 48 times to just 22 passes, and racked up 263 yards against one of the nation’s best teams.

Khalil Hodge will make the DPOY race fun
Hodge is making an early case as MAC defensive player of the year. In Buffalo’s 17–7 loss to Minnesota, where the Bulls were pretty good defensively, Hodge recorded 20 total tackles and was everywhere for Lance Leipold’s squad. That defense cannot afford to lose him for any amount of time if they want to take a leap this season.

What to Watch for in Week Two

How good is Ohio?
We still don’t know much about the Bobcats yet, other than they can avoid a slow start or letdown against an FCS opponent. This week should change that. Purdue just gave Louisville everything they could handle in Indianapolis on Saturday night, and if the Bobcats can leave West Lafayette with a win, they’ll have an outside shot at 13–0.

Western Michigan @ Michigan State
How much does WMU have left in the tank after giving USC their all? The Broncos open as touchdown underdogs to the Spartans, who despite their struggles early looked quite good against Bowling Green. The Broncos should be a tougher test for the Spartans, and if they steal a win in Spartan Stadium it should tell us whether or not Saturday was just a fluke.

Can Ball State Rebound?
The Cardinals host UAB this Saturday in a game they absolutely should win. Can they avoid the inconsistencies that plague young teams, or will they falter after a heartbreaking loss at a Big Ten opponent? Mike Neu seems to have his team motivated and has Riley Neal playing better. Keep a close eye on Ball State this weekend.