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12.26.2007

Preview: Motor City Bowl



Background Info & History

There are three sponsors to the Motor City Bowl. As you might be able to infer, the Motor City Bowl takes place in Detroit so it only seems natural that the "Big 3" automakers, Chrysler, Ford, and GM all co-sponsor the event.

The history of the Motor City Bowl has its roots in the Cherry Bowl which only lasted a few seasons. A bowl game in Detroit was resurrected in 1997 and it was played in the Pontiac Silverdome until 2001. The first ever game in the bowl's history was a 34-31 win for Ole Miss against Marshall. As a matter of fact, after that loss, the Thundering Herd went on to win the next three Motor City Bowls. Probably the best Motor City Bowl game to this date was the Northwestern/Bowling Green game played in 2003 where Josh Harris led the Falcons to a 28-24 victory. The most recent game, in 2006 (which yours truly attended), CMU defeated at-large Middle Tennessee State in front of a 54,000+ record crowd.




CMU Storyline

You want to talk about schizophrenic football teams? Look no further than Central Michigan.

The Chippewas were downright awful against their non-MAC foes. The average score of their OOC games against Purdue, North Dakota State, Clemson, and Kansas was 52.75 to 14.25 (this doesn't count their victory against Army). In MAC games, CMU won on average 47.9 to 33.1. So something is screwy there.

Who knew Kansas was going to be so good? When I first saw that score, as a CMU fan, I began freaking out thinking that Butch Jones was a complete and total failure. I thought North Dakota State would beat Central Michigan, but the way they did it was extremely shocking. Let's just say CMU looked like a sinking ship.

Once MAC play was on the schedule, it was much smoother sailing for this vessel. The CMU offense cut through the helpless arm-tackling of lesser MAC defenses like a hot knife through butter on their way to a second consecutive MAC West title.

This team faced off against Miami OH for a MAC championship game. The RedHawks were hanging in there for a while, but you have to give the Central defense credit for playing the best defensive game all year.




Purdue Storyline

Another year, more failed expectations for Purdue.

Much of this is pinned on Joe Tiller. Speaking of Tiller, this is a homecoming for the head coach. He's from the Toledo area and used to be a big fan of the Detroit Lions who used to own the NFL which may come as a surprise to non-NFL historians.

Anyway, Purdue was a hot football team. They ran into Ohio State and Michigan, two teams the Boilermakers have been able to avoid for the last two seasons. The game against Iowa was the real litmus test as to whether or not the team was for real. Northwestern and Iowa got smoked so it looked like this team was on the right track.

Uh-oh. This is when Purdue took a turn for the worst. Penn State smothered the offense and controlled the game on both sides of the ball. Then, Brian Hoyer showed unprecedented success at QB as Michigan State won, 48-31. If not for the heroics of Austin Starr, Purdue would have the Old Oaken Bucket and a plane ride to Phoenix.




Match ups of the Game


Purdue Passing Game vs. Central Michigan Pass Defense-If you've been following Central Michigan at all this year, you should be able to pick up that they can't defend the pass at all, especially one as potent as Purdue's 18th ranked passing offense. The Boilermakers will come at the Chippewa secondary with Dorien Bryant, Selwyn Lymon, Dustin Keller, and Greg Orton.

CMU Passing Game vs. Purdue Pass Defense-Now, just read what I said about Purdue's offense and CMU's pass defense and flip it around. While Purdue doesn't have as bad of a secondary as the Chips possess, Dan LeFevour has a tremendous target in Bryan Anderson with whom he'll hook up a couple of big plays tonight.




Keep an Eye on...

Dan LeFevour. Think of him as a poor man's Tim Tebow (which is a good thing). LeFevour obviously wasn't playing as many quality opponents as Tim Tebow has, but his stats are almost as impressive. He's the only QB in the NCAA that has ran for 1000+ and threw for 3000+ joining Vince Young in that category.

LeFevour will be a load for the Purdue defense to handle mainly because of his dual-threat status. The sophomore has a good-sized arm and he's not lightning quick but he will hurt you on the ground. Purdue is merely average against the run but they are shaky against the pass (ranked 70th).






This is probably your third best match up of the game right here. Cliff Avril is an excellent pass rusher and the best player for Purdue defensively.

He averages half a sack per game, but, the Central Michigan offensive line has proved to be rather sturdy.

CMU ranks 16th in sacks allowed. Part of that is LeFevour's escapability and quick-decision making, but the Chippewas have the best offensive line in the Mid-America Conference.

If Avril has a big day, CMU's offense won't be as explosive as most project it to. If CMU can handle Avril's pass rushing ability, they'll move down the field with ease.






Must-See-Ometer


The Motor City Bowl receives a 6 out of 10 on the Must-See-Ometer. If you like offense, you've come to the right place.

Even though these two teams have met already, there are a few reasons to believe this will be a better football game:

• CMU is playing in their own backyard.
• CMU is the hotter team. Purdue has dropped three straight going from 7-2 to 7-5.
• Motivation. CMU is bound to be the more excited team. Can you imagine Purdue being pumped up for this?




Prediction


The three items mentioned above only point to this being a closer game. When Purdue and Central met in September, the game was 38-0 in the third quarter. The final score is a bit misleading.

The bottom line is whether or not CMU's defense will play like they did against Miami OH. Granted, Miami OH is no Purdue, but it was their best defensive game of the season. If the CMU offense stays hot, look for this to be closer than last meeting.

Regardless, Purdue has too much offensive firepower and more athletes on defense compared to Central Michigan. Look for Purdue to pull away big in the 4th quarter. Boilermakers win, 45-31.

12.25.2007

Merry Christmas

12.24.2007

2008 MAC Schedules Thus Far

Sorry for not being able to post in a while, slow day in MAC football news. These schedules are via NationalChamps.net:


Akron:
8-30-08 at Wisconsin
9-6-08 at Syracuse
9-13-08 at Kentucky
9-20-08 ARMY
9-27-08 CINCINNATI

Initial Thoughts: It's tough. The Zips haven't really been shy in terms of scheduling BCS teams. Wisconsin and Cincinnati are basically out of the question, but with Kentucky's loss of Andre Woodson, they should become exponentially easier to beat. Syracuse is Syracuse and that should be a close game. The only home games that Akron gets on their non-conference schedule are those against Army and Cincinnati.


Bowling Green:
9-6-08 MINNESOTA
9-20-08 at Wyoming
9-27-08 at Boise State
TBA at Pittsburgh

Initial Thoughts: The Falcons have also had to settle for a plethora of road games. The Minnesota game might be a revenge trip for the Golden Gophers for what BGSU did to them last year. The road game against Wyoming is winnable if they can figure out that Cowboy defense. Boise State on the Smurf Turf probably won't be that close and the same can be said against Pittsburgh.


Buffalo:
8-28-08 UTEP
9-6-08 COLGATE
9-20-08 at Missouri

Initial Thoughts: Buffalo still has one opening left as well. If there's any time you want to play UTEP, it's late in the year where it appears the team begins to melt down, but Turner Gill's crew will have to take them on during week one. Colgate is very winnable but a little dangerous at the same time. If Buffalo isn't colossally worse compared to last year and they show up, they should win. The Missouri game will be a outright beatdown.


Kent State:
8-28-08 BOSTON COLLEGE
9-6-08 at Iowa State

Initial Thoughts: Kent State still needs two more non-conference opponents, but these two are tough enough. The game against Boston College will be played at home. If we rewind to 2006 for a second, you might recall that Central Michigan gave BC a run for their money. The Golden Flashes will make a return trip to Ames to face the Cyclones who have been struggling over the last two seasons.


Miami:
8-28-08 VANDERBILT
9-6-08 at Michigan
9-20-08 at Cincinnati
10-4-08 WESTERN KENTUCKY

Initial Thoughts: The RedHawks will get to take on two of the same BCS conference teams they played in the 2007 season. This time though, Vanderbilt will make the trip to Oxford. That's a trap game for the Commodores, should be a fun one to see. Call me nuts if you wish, but if Michigan doesn't snatch Terrelle Pryor and they're still learning that Rich Rodriguez spread system, Miami might be able to challenge them. During October, Miami wraps it up against Western Kentucky which is a dangerous game. The Hilltoppers redshirted a bunch of players with experience last year and they weren't half bad anyway.


Ohio:
8-30-08 at Wyoming
9-6-08 at Ohio State
9-20-08 at Northwestern

Initial Thoughts: Ohio, like Bowling Green, will have to make the trip to Laramie. It's going to be tough to go out there because Joe Glenn's bunch is always difficult to beat at home. Ohio also gets to face two Big 10 teams in Ohio State and Northwestern. There's still an opening left on this schedule.


Temple:
9-6-08 CONNECTICUT
9-20-08 at Penn State
9-27-08 at Kentucky
11-1-08 at Navy
TBA at Army

Initial Thoughts: If there's any game that might be for retribution, it could be the Temple/UConn game. It was quite obvious that Bruce Francis came in bounds and that Temple beat UConn, but it appears that wasn't the case. Temple gets another shot at Penn State and Navy this time on the road.


Ball State:
9-6-08 NAVY
9-20-08 at Indiana
10-11-08 at Western Kentucky
TBA Army @Chicago, IL

Initial Thoughts: The Cardinals were just listed as the Dark Horse sleeper of the NationalChamps.net Early Bird Top 25 and for good reason. They won't really get tested in the non-conference slate though. Navy and Indiana won't be easy, but those are games Ball State should win. If the Cardinals can get by these two teams, or even split the two games, they might be looking at a 9 or 10 win season.


Central Michigan:
9-6-08 at Georgia
9-20-08 at Purdue

Initial Thoughts: CMU still has two openings left, but it's not like the schedule isn't difficult enough. The Chippewas have two great opportunities to make some national noise against probable top 5 Georgia next season and, you guessed it, Butch Jones & Co. have to take on Purdue yet again. That would be the third time in two seasons.


Eastern Michigan:
9-6-08 at Michigan State
9-20-08 at Maryland

Initial Thoughts: If Eastern wanted to get to a bowl game, they would have to schedule a soft non-conference schedule. Turns out that's not what they're doing. The Eagles will get to participate in an intrastate battle between their rivals from East Lansing and they get to hit the road into ACC territory to battle the Terps. There are still two openings and, for the sake of not embarrassing themselves, they should try to get Florida International and North Carolina A&T or something :D .


Northern Illinois:
8-30-08 at Minnesota
10-4-08 at Tennessee
11-22-08 NAVY

Initial Thoughts: The Huskies still have an opening left, but they'll probably lose all three of these games. The game against Minnesota might be interesting, but they'll most likely fall short there. They get to face Navy this time at home. Jerry Kill will have this team a lot better if they can stay healthy, but they're still not good enough to go bowling.


Toledo:
9-6-08 at Arizona
9-20-08 FRESNO STATE
9-27-08 FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
10-11-08 at Michigan

Initial Thoughts: If you like offensive shootouts, tune in if you can for the Toledo/Arizona game. It's somewhat bizarre, which adds a little excitement to the game; it's pretty rare that the MAC gets to take on the Pac-10. The FIU game should be a blowout and the Fresno State match up could be one of the better ones in 2008, seriously.


Western Michigan:
8-30-08 at Nebraska
9-13-08 at Idaho

Initial Thoughts: Western Michigan still needs a couple teams on this schedule, but the game against Nebraska could be a huge trap game. That would be Bo Pelini's debut and Nebraska was atrocious defensively last season. The Broncos have to travel to Moscow, Idaho to face the Vandals which should be anything but a stiff test.

12.18.2007

MAC All-Stars

Heading the list this year would be Ohio's Kalvin McRae. McRae was easily the best running back in the Mid-America Conference (this side of Eugene Jarvis) racking up close to 120 yards per game. McRae will be headed to the Hula Bowl this year taking place in Hawaii (duh). With him, he'll be taking all of his records and accomplishments capping off a great senior year at Ohio.

Also participating this year will be Toledo OT, John Greco in the East-West Shrine game. And, darn, I can't find a freaking updated Hula Bowl roster anywhere, so if you guys find one in the meantime, tell me!

12.17.2007

The All-MAC Basketball Team (1990-current)



I was going to take some time off from MAC blogging duties due to blogger's block and a lack of time due to the holidays. But fear not, I've come up with a great topic. I am going to list my 12 man, All-MAC hoopsters from the last 17 years of basketball action. Let's get going...

Coach: I've got to go with my sentimental favorite and the dean of MAC coaches, Mr. Charlie Coles. Honestly though, I don't think Charlie would have any idea how to work with this much talent.

The Bench:
PG Antonio Daniels (Bowling Green) - Now with the Wizards, Daniels was a machine in college and it was no surprise to me that he was taken #4 overall in the NBA Draft.
SG Brian Tolbert (Eastern Michigan) - From the teams that put Ben Braun on the coaching map, Tolbert was the main marksman on the EMU team that defeated Duke in the NCAA tournament.
G Craig Thames (Toledo) - I'm not sure on exact stats because Thames played in the early 90's, but it seemed like Thames averaged about 40 ppg and single-handedly beat Miami every year.
SF Bonzi Wells (Ball State) - I was fortunate enough to see Wells play while I was in school and the kid, eventhough he's kind of a fat ass now, was a flat out stud while he was at Muncie. He would be a starter on most teams, but not this one...definitely the 6th man.
F Antonio Gates (Kent State) - My least favorite player of all time in the MAC. Don't get me wrong, I love him in the NFL, but I hated the guy so much on the basketball court. He had an odd shot, you couldn't defend him because of his size and speed, and he was almost always knocking down big shots at the end of games.
PF Devin Davis (Miami) - You all remember Devin. The guy that brought dreadlocks into the MAC and a low post bruiser for four years. Led Miami to a tournament win over Damon Stoudamire and Arizona, which I was in attendance for and still remains one of the greatest games I've ever been to. Rumor has it that Devin is one of the best players in Spain currently.
PF - Anthony Stacey (Bowling Green) - Another guy I hated but respected. Stacey was just a mauler on the blocks that could make jumpers, too. An absoulte disaster to defend. When you combined he and Daniels, it's no wonder that they won the conference in 2000 (but were knocked out of the MAC tournament by the 8 seed Redhawks!).

And now, your All-MAC, post 1990, starters...

PG Earl Boykins (Eastern Michigan) - One of the most exciting players that I've ever seen on a basketball court. Just a lightning bolt that could penetrate, kick, play defense, and run you off the gym. A fine catalyst for this team.
SG Trevor Huffman (Kent State) - I don't think I ever saw Huffman miss a shot in his 4 years at KSU. The guy was awesome. He was the biggest reason for Kent State's amazing run to the Elite 8 in 2002. We want Earl to drive and kick it out to Trevor...money.
C Chris Kaman (Central Michigan) - He was a project until the 2002-03 season when everything came together and he became unstoppable. The guy was quick, had an arsenal of low post moves, and could swat shots with the best of them.
SF Wally Szczerbiak (Miami) - Possibly the best college basketball player that I've ever seen. Wally was a true leader, an excellent marksman, could create off the dribble, played fearless defense, and basically did whatever he could to win. It's too bad his legs haven't held up throughout his career because he could have been very special in the NBA.
PF Gary Trent (Ohio) - The only 3 time MAC player of the year in the history of the conference. Trent could not be stopped in his tenure at OU. He was a beast and may be a starter on the all-MAC team of all time. He was that good and I'll never understand why he couldn't put it together in the NBA.

Wow, what a team. What a conference. If you think I forgot someone, feel free to drop some knowledge in the comments. It's hard for me to include recent players because the talent has been down overall the past 5 years.

12.13.2007

Jerry Kill

The MAC welcomed a new head coach to the fraternity.

Here's a sample from the NIU Web site:

"It's a great opportunity to come here to Northern Illinois and be able to be a part of the program that Coach Novak has built and to join the Huskie family. This is an exciting time for my wife and I," Kill said. "After meeting with Jim [Phillips] and President Peters and seeing their commitment to the football program, with the facilities, the academic support system and everything that has been put in place, I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be the head coach at Northern Illinois. "


That coach would be Southern Illinois' top man, Jerry Kill. His tenure at SIU is pretty impressive. I have a little background info on him with his start coaching at Saginaw Valley State. All I can say is the guy is a winner.

Kill has put his Salukis in the FCS playoffs for the last five years. And for you Northern Illinois fans, don't fret; the guy knows how to pound the football. The SVSU Cardinals were a rushing machine back when he was here in the mid-90's.

12.12.2007

Opponents You Should Know

I'm going to take two players from each postseason MAC opponent and shed some light on them. Chances are, you're already aware of the best MAC players, but what about some guys on Rutgers, Purdue, or Tulsa that might change the game?

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Offense: Ray Rice

Obviously, you've probably heard of this Heisman candidate once already. Even though Rutgers has gotten a lot more done through the air than they had in 2006, Rice is still the main focus of the offense.

We're talking about a guy that was ranked third nationally in individual rushing yard with close to 145 per game! That's impressive and it's going to be difficult for Ball State to contain in the International Bowl.

Rice's only 200+ yard game came against Army, but the Scarlet Knight RB was close to 200 many times. The only time he didn't run for over 100 yards was their game earlier in the season against Norfolk State and coach Schiano didn't want to run the risk of him getting hurt.


Defense: Jamaal Westerman

Westerman didn't have a monster year as expected, but he was a factor in most of the games he played.

This junior DE had 6 sacks all year long with about 95 yards lost for the opposing offense in his TFL.

Jamaal comes in at 6'3 and weighs 252 pounds. He's going to be a load for Ball State's offensive line to handle. It'll be very interesting to see if the Cardinals, who rank 47th in sacks allowed, will be able to neutralize Westerman.






Purdue Boilermakers

Offense: Dorien Bryant

The Boilermakers are all about the pass as Central Michigan has learned first-hand.

Bryant, a probable NFL prospect, leads the way for the Purdue passing attack. Even though Joe Tiller's spread offense utilizes multiple receivers, Bryant is the biggest attention-grabber.

Dorien is currently tied for 18th in receptions per game which is pretty impressive considering how much Purdue likes to spread the ball around to all possible targets.

Bryant is also dangerous in the return game as he ranks 15th in the country!



Defense: Terrell Vinson

Cliff Avril may very well be the best player on Purdue's defense, but Vinson will probably have the most pressure of any player.

If you stop and think, Central Michigan passes and passes and passes. Even though Avril's pressure on LeFevour will be a huge factor, Vinson is the top cover-corner on the football team.

Vinson ended the year with five INTs even though he hasn't managed to find one for the last three games. He's also found his way to the QB for two sacks and Terrell also has defended 11 passes. That's a good thing meaning the QBs shy away from him.

Possibly the best one-on-one matchup in the Motor City Bowl will be Terrell Vinson on Bryan Anderson.





Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Offense: Paul Smith

There has to be a reason why Tulsa has the best statistical offense in the nation and besides Gus Malzahn's brilliant mind, QB Paul Smith would be the next answer.

Smith currently leads the #3 passing game in the nation and he ranks, individually, third in total offense.

Not impressive enough? Consider the fact that Smith has tossed 42 TDs and only 19 picks (which is pretty decent when you take into account all of his pass attempts).

Of course he wouldn't be able to do this without talented wideouts like Brennan Marion and Trae Johnson, but the rapid speed at which Smith picked up this new offense is something worth noting.


Defense: Tulsa LBs

Even though Tulsa's defense has given up a bunch of yards and a bunch of points, they have some defensive talent that could be the difference in the GMAC Bowl outcome.

First, Alain Karatepeyan ranks 26th individually in tackles for loss per game. That's somewhat impressive.

Then, LB Chris Chamberlain has himself about 11 tackles a game which ranks sixth in the country.


Finally, rounding out their LB trio, Nelson Coleman has himself over 10 tackles a game. If these guys can disrupt Bowling Green's short passing game, it could be a long night for the Falcons.

12.10.2007

We've All Seen This Before



Dear Keith Dambrot,

You had a great 2006-2007. Your Akron Zips basketball team had an amazing 26-7 record. If it hadn't been for the shot heard round the world by Miami's Doug Penno, you would have won the MAC and went to the NCAA Tournament. But it wasn't meant to be. You didn't win the tournament. You didn't win the conference during the regular season. So you sat at home during the March tournaments.

I listened to you complain for what seemed like days following the MAC Tournament. You argued that Akron deserved an at-large bid. You said how hard it was to schedule good teams. You said that no one wanted to play Akron. You beat into the ground the fact that no major conference team wanted to schedule a home and home with the Zips. And why would they? What have you done? Who have the Zips beaten over the past decade? Your gym is a dump. YOU HAVE TO GO OUT AND PLAY PEOPLE IN THEIR GYM IF YOU WANT RESPECT. Let's take a look back and see your out-of-conference schedule last season.

Arkansas-Little Rock, Gardner Webb, Tiffin, Niagara, Oral Roberts, Binghamton, Winston-Salem State, UIC, St. Francis (Pa.), Nevada, Loyola Marymount, Youngstown State, and Austin Peay in the Bracket Buster.

The selection committee told you that this was a terrible schedule. There is a reason that you, as a 26-7 team, weren't even being discussed on Selection Sunday. You are a pompous jerk. Currently, numbers 1 and 2 in strength of schedule in the nation are Toledo and Miami. Those two schools know how to do it. They know what needs to be done to draw a potential at large bid. You have to take your shots at the "big boys" to gain respect. But did you learn your lesson? Well, let's see...the 2007-08 Akron Zips OOC schedule:

USC Upstate, Portland State, Tennessee State, Binghamton, Temple, Wyoming, Winthrop, North Carolina Central, UIC, North Carolina A&T, Austin Peay, Youngstown State, and Dayton

With the exception of Dayton, once again you have no quality opponents. There are no teams from major conferences yet again. So good luck in the MAC tournament, Coach Dambrot. Because you could finish 28-5 but with this crappy schedule, you will be sitting at home come March yet again.

Grow a pair and start scheduling teams that people have heard of. This is indefensible. You have no one to blame but yourself. In a 4 day stretch coming up later this month, Akron plays NC A&T and YSU at home while Miami plays at Illinois and at Kansas. But hey, I'm sure you'll get a strong look by the Selection Committee. I have absolutely zero respect for you or your cowardly program.

Sorry, Don, but it's true and I had to get that off of my chest. If Coach Dambrot is too afraid to play a tough schedule, he and this program will never be taken seriously.

12.09.2007

Update on Northern Illinois




According to the Daily Chronicle, Dan McCarney tops the list of coaches that Northern Illinois is looking for.

This would be an interesting choice. The guy did some good things at Iowa State and it was unfortunate that he got canned the way he did there. The Cyclone program is a difficult one to handle and he did so pretty well.

So far, the NIU head coaching search doesn't include Craig Bohl, either. Bohl is the head coach at North Dakota State, but the article claims that NIU hasn't looked into him that deeply.

It's an interesting situation, that's for sure.

12.05.2007

School Allegiance - The Constitution


As a follow-up to my column on where one's loyalty should lie when his/her school plays a more prominent program, whether it be from their home state or another, I am posting below an excellent set of criteria originally posted on the MACbbs.

The preamble was authored by your's truly...the criteria, which I believe to be spot on, was authored by Ian Elia. Enjoy!


We the people, in order to form a more perfect conference, establish justice, insure mental tranquility, provide for the common good, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our choice of secondary education, do ordain and establish this Constitution for loyalty to the Mid-American Conference.....


(A.) Children of all ages have the freedom to choose their favorite college from their birth until age 18 or their freshman year of college (which ever comes first). At said time, the student must choose to be a fan of the school he or she attends and abandon all fandom of childhood favorite school.

1. In situations where the student attends a satellite campus (examples: UNC-Charlotte) that does not sponsor a D-1A football team, said student may choose to be a fan of a D-1A program at another campus within same academic system (UNC- Chapel Hill). The student will also be allowed to root for the other campus' basketball team as well, however the student must root for the basketball team that plays on their own campus if the two ever meet face to face.

2. If a student grows up a fan of a D1 school (example: Eastern Michigan) and attends a school in a lesser division (example: Wayne State) the student is permitted to retain said allegiance to he D1 school under the provision that they would root for their alma mater if they ever played the D1 school head to head. This provision is also applicable in the reverse as well.


(B.) Every American man or woman can freely root for the institution they received their masters [or doctorate] degree from over the institution they received their undergraduate degree.

(C.) If a student attended two or more undergraduate institutions the student can root for the teams of all institutions however the fandom of the degree granting institution takes precedent over that of the other institutions.

(D.) If you have a degree from one school (example: Akron) you automatically forfeit your right to be a fan of another institution (Ohio State) that plays in the same NCAA division (or subdivision) unless said alumni begins pursuing another undergrad, graduate, or post graduate degree with the other institution.

(E.) Every American man, woman, and/or child can not tactically root for different college football and basketball programs (example: USC football, Duke basketball) unless said man, woman, or child either:

1. Has attended both institutions
2. Has attended one of the universities and lives in the immediate community of the second university which is economically and socially impacted by the second school.
3. Has attended one of the universities and has a parent or parents who have worked for the second institution.
4. Has attended one of the universities and has a parent or sibling who have played athletics for the other university.

12.03.2007

It Wasn't Meant To Be



Well, Miami University's football season is officially over after being steam-rolled by Central Michigan in the MAC Championship game. Did the Redhawks deserve to go bowling? Even as the biased homer that I am, I say hell no. This team wasn't very good. They won the East with smoke and mirrors. The offense was anemic at best. We had a heck of a young defense this year but due to the offensive ineptitude, they spent way too much time on the field this year and were worn down in 4th quarters. But there is always next year. And that's what I'm going to discuss today.

On offense, the Redhawks have to replace a few offensive lineman but the core of the unit returns. The running game will be a bit of a question mark considering we played half of the season this year with our 4th and 5th string RB due to injuries. The WR were, for the most part, all freshman and sophomores so with a year under their belts, they should be much more reliable next year. The big change is that the awkward and inaccurate arm of Daniel Raudabaugh will be back to his more comfortable role of backup QB and in comes the stud. That's right, it's the dawn of a new offensive era in Oxford with redshirt freshman QB, Clay Belton, slated to take over the reigns. Belton (left) is a HUGE 6'5" lefty with excellent mobility and a cannon for an arm. While I am not a big Raudabaugh fan at all, I have to give him props for not getting injured this year which would have burned up Belton's redshirt. You are reading that correctly, Miami only had one QB on the roster after the awfulness of Mike Kokal went down early in the season. But, back to Belton, you are hearing it here first. He is going to be the MAC's version of Vince Young. Mark it down, Clay will turn heads.

Defensively, most of the starters return. While the defensive line loses the pass rushing skills of Craig Mester, big Martin Channels will still be stuffing the run in the middle. And of course, our Big 3 Linebacking Corps of Joey Hudson, Caleb Bostic, and MAC Defensive Player of the Year, Clayton Mullins all return and will once again cause havoc to opposing offenses. These 3 guys form the best linebacking trio in the conference and could be the three best overall in the league. The secondary loses Jerrod Gaines at CB but the other 3 guys all return to the #1 defense in the MAC.

The amazing thing about the Miami football program is that 44 of the players on the team this past year were either redshirt or true freshman. There were only 13 seniors on the team. That's amazing. The fact that they won the MAC East this year with that much youth is truly an exceptional feat.

I hate to say it, but if the team takes a step backwards in 2008, this could be it for coach Shane Montgomery. It has been entirely too long since Miami has been to a bowl game (only 3 years but still, that's unacceptable). The pieces are there with that linebacking corps, a big time young QB who has had a year to learn the system, and a stable of rapidly developing WR's.

So although 2007 has ended in disappointment for Miami Redhawk football, the future is bright indeed. Is it August yet?

12.02.2007

MAC Bowl Bids Announced

And a congrats to Central Michigan on winning the MAC title! I'll share some thoughts on the bowl pairings later this week. But as for now....

Motor City Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Purdue
International Bowl: Ball State vs. Rutgers
GMAC Bowl: Bowling Green vs. Tulsa

11.30.2007

2007 MAC Championship Preview



When: 11:00 AM, ESPN2

Central Michigan: The Chips are finally getting an opportunity to do what they've been aiming for all season long. The MAC title game is finally here and we might get to see a focused Central Michigan team for the first time since their exciting victory against Western Michigan.

The Chips stumble into the title game with a loss to Eastern Michigan and one of those closer-than-it-should-be games against Akron (and the Zips just about outplayed them).

This game will probably come down to Dan LeFevour. The sophomore QB runs for about 70 yards a game individually in rushing which shows his ability to get out the pocket. The Chippewa offense focuses on a lot of short to mid-range passes which allows LeFevour to often hit those with high accuracy. This could be a problem for Miami.

As for the rest of the offense, Justin Hoskins has really developed into the premier back of the CMU offense. Ontario Sneed is also very effective when called upon as shown in the game against Akron last week when he ran for 100 yards. The offensive line is 14th in the nation in sacks allowed which tops the MAC.

However, with all of the praise the offense has been receiving, there's some negative news to pass along regarding the defense. A Pop Warner team might find a way to score 10 points so let's just say that Miami might be able to score. Comparing the scoring defenses, CMU gives up TWO more touchdowns than Miami does! That's an alarming stat and Jones really needs to find some solutions to this defense if the Chips plan on taking the next step into Boise State/Hawaii/BYU territory. Red Keith is the only guy on the defense that is really stepping it up.


Miami RedHawks: Obviously, the biggest story about Miami this season has been the injuries on offense. Miami isn't really as bad as their 20 points per game mark might make it look like because these guys have been absolutely devastated by ailments.

The QB situation is now, if you haven't heard, in the hands of Daniel Raudabaugh. The running game has struggled for most of the year, but Cory Jones and Austin Sykes have done the best they can. Currently, Miami is only rushing for 137 yards per game. Even though the Miami offense hasn't been great, Eugene Harris and Dustin Woods are pretty explosive targets.

The defense has done its job with the offense struggling due to injuries. This team is 47th in scoring defense and they should hold up better than most expect to against the explosive Central Michigan offense. It's very possible that the game could be won or lost in the middle of the field. Miami has a few field generals at LB in Joey Hudson and Clayton Mullins. If they can disrupt the intermediate passing game of CMU, the RedHawks should be in good shape to become 2007 MAC champions.


Prediction: Central will be able to move the football, but they don't do so at will. Miami's defense will come up with a surprising performance. Also, something to chew on until Saturday, you have to gauge Miami's motivation factor. If they drop to 6-7, it will be Ball State going to the GMAC Bowl. Miami's bowl destiny is in their own hands and they will take advantage. I'm sure you've heard the cliche of "defense wins championships." CMU has no defense. Miami wins in a close one, 34-30.

11.27.2007

ALL MAC TEAM


Buffalo's Turner Gill is the MAC Coach of the year as named by the MAC News Media Association. Other honors go to Central Michigan Quarterback Dan LeFevour, who was named Offensive Player of the year. Clayton Mullins of Miami was named Defensive Player of the year.

Mid-American Conference News Release


In other football news, the MAC also issued a news release announcing that the conference bowl invitations will be made public after the championship game this weekend.

Other quick updates...

Akron and Miami are the only two MAC teams to make the Mid-Major top 25 teams. The Zips climbed four spots this week to #13 while the RedHawks advanced three spots to #15. Ohio and Kent State also received votes.

Mid-Major Top 25

Miami is the top-ranked MAC team on this week's Sagarin ratings. The RedHawks come in at #52. Overall, the MAC is ranked #14 out of 31 basketball conferences.

Sagarin Ratings

11.26.2007

Basketball Fever Spreading Through Oxford

I'm throwing it out there already. After 4 games, here it comes. Miami is going to roll through the MAC this season and make the Dance. You can have your Jeremiah Wood's, your Kasheif Payne's, your Leon Williams, even your Mike Scott's. It doesn't matter. No one boasts a duo as potent as Michael Bramos and Tim Pollitz.

This Miami team is really good. No one else in the conference will be able to boast the quality wins of a Xavier and a Mississippi State (hell, Akron and OU probably aren't even playing anyone in the RPI top 200!) with the potential for a couple more large wins before conference play. The Redhawks are back. It took 8 years PW (Post Wally), but they are back and better than ever.

How do you defend this team? Want to sag on the best player in the MAC, Tim Pollitz (he was hands down the MVP in the conference last year but was shafted by the overrated Romeo Travis)? OK, Mike Bramos, Kenny Hayes, and Alex Moosmann will bury you from beyond the arc. Want to play zone? No problem there, Pollitz and the vastly improved Tyler Dierkers will pick you apart with their great court vision and ability to find wide open cutters.

And don't forget the Charlie Coles style of play either. He will always force our tempo on you. Miami has not allowed a team to hang 70 points on them in 38 games and counting. This is not a trend, it's a way of life. The team defense concept is something that after a decade of playing it, MAC opponents are still trying to figure out how to beat it. There just aren't enough opportunities to score.

Like always, it's damn near impossible to win in the comfy confines of Millett Hall. Even when the Redhawks have been weak over the past few years, you could always count on a win when we took the court at home. Now that the talent is there, I don't see that changing. Not this year. I'll be pissed if we lose ANY home game this year (that includes you on Wednesday, Dayton Flyers).

The only, and I mean ONLY, thing that could derail this team from a 20 win season is an injury. Tim Pollitz has a gimpy knee but the coaching staff won't force him to play/practice on it to keep him fresh for the stretch run. This could also be a benefit as limiting Timmy's minutes could improve the growth of young big man, Dwight McCombs.

I know I shouldn't be doing this because bad things happen to people who are too cocky, but the MAC title goes through Oxford this season. Good luck trying to win down there.

Playing Catch-Up

Hey, sorry fellow MAC fans! I've been getting sort of lazy with the blog plus I've got this basement that will occupy me all winter. Big thanks to GMoney and Don though for helping me out!

Anyway, I have to admit I watched only part of the CMU/Akron game and only part of the Bowling Green/Toledo game and I'm probably not the most fit to comment. I was watching the Colorado/Nebraska, Mississippi State/Ole Miss, and LSU/Arkansas games more attentively.

So, I'm just going to throw some random MAC items floating around in this blogger's head:



It really is a shame that Joe Novak's tenure had to end the way it did.

This was from the article on NIU's official Web site:

"I feel good about this decision," Novak said. "It's time. It's the right time for me personally, for my wife [Carole] and family, and for this program. Everyone says you know when it's time and this is it for me.

"Overall, it's been a wonderful ride," he continued. "There have been good days and bad days, but a lot more good than bad. I'm leaving the program in better shape than I found it, which you always want to do. We accomplished some things, but there are some things we didn't get done, too."

I am a little confused by the timing of it all. If he waited for another year to announce his retirement, he could've rode off into the sun set as Northern Illinois shouldn't be nearly as bad as they were in 2007 with all of the youth and injuries.

This might come to a surprise to some folks, but Novak had a losing record during his time at NIU. Most of those losses came in his first season when he went 3-30 which shows you what kind of challenge he was up against.

Obviously, his most notable season as a head coach was 2003 and 2004 where he went a combined 19-5 and he won the old Silicon Valley Classic (which, in my opinion, was anything but a classic).

Anyway, coach Novak will be missed and the potential replacements are yet to be rumored-off. It'll be interesting to see where the university turns.


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Here's how the bowl picture is shaking down for the MAC:

Motor City Bowl: Michigan State vs. Central Michigan

Obviously, it would be in the Bowl's best interest to have two Michigan schools face off against each other. MSU + CMU = Sellout. I was at the 2006 Motor City Bowl and the Chippewa fans flocked in some pretty good numbers. If those were MSU fans instead of MTSU fans, Ford Field would have easily sold out.


International Bowl: Rutgers vs. Bowling Green

Rutgers would draw the most fans across the border into Toronto, but I think the Bowling Green folks could make it up there was well. The International Bowl could easily go with UConn here, but the Scarlet Knights would be the most attractive team. Bowling Green would have to go bowling at 8-4 and, I'm not 100% positive, but I think the Falcons would travel better than, say........


GMAC Bowl: Ball State/Miami OH vs. UCF

Personally, I'm a little undecided on the MAC title game. Central Michigan either isn't as good as we thinking judging by their last few games against Easten Michigan and Akron or they just weren't focused. The RedHawks loss last week to Ohio was devastating to their bowl hopes meaning that they would most likely have to beat CMU to get a bid. Keep in mind, Akron in 2005 was playing for their bowl survival and the loser of that game, Northern Illinois, didn't get invited to go bowling.

Ball State will be cheering for the Chippewas as they sit back at 7-5. Should Miami OH win, Ball State might end up going to the Papajohns.com Bowl but that would also require both the Sun and Gator Bowl selecting a Big East team (and Rutgers beating Louisville next week).

The GMAC Bowl usually takes the C-USA championship loser and that could be UCF or Tulsa. These two teams are pretty evenly matched but I'd put my money on that Golden Hurricane offense.


------------------------

Also, if you didn't see over at Saturday Sound Offs, Brian Kelly has my full support to become the next head coach at Michigan.

As we saw at Central over the past few seasons (and at Grand Valley State), he's about as innovative as coaches come and he knows how to push the right buttons.

GVSU was always a good program, but he took it to the next level. Central Michigan was wallowing in mediocrity and in three seasons, they became MAC champions.

Even if the Michigan job is not in his best interest, I wish him the best in whatever he does.

FIRE UP CHIPS!


------------------------

Also, I'll throw in some stuff from the CCHA for the heck of it:

Captain's Blog (an interesting red from Miami RedHawk captain, Ryan Jones)

Western Michigan earned a split over the weekend against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Click here for the box score of Game 1 and here for the box score of Game 2.

Ranked Bowling Green dropped a tough one last Tuesday against Notre Dame.

11.24.2007

Akron closes out '07 with loss to CMU


DISAPPOINTING LOSS AT THE BOWL CLOSES OUT '07

Disappointing? You bet. Zips fans, this one anyway, were looking for one thing, just one thing, to take as a positive as the current season comes to a close. Unfortunately, the one positive I found is leaving -- Jabari Arthur. Once again, Arthur came up big, keeping the Zips in the ball game until the defense collapsed in the final minutes allowing Central to drive down the field two times for a score.

Chris Jaquemain, once again, struggled and made rookie mistakes. Crediting him with making a few big passes to Arthur, he still is holding on to the ball too long and throwing into double coverage when other receivers are open.

What made the Central Michigan loss especially hard to take was that the defense, the Zips strong-point, imploded. Chippewa quarterback Dan LeFevour did just about whatever he wanted in the closing minutes of the game. Granted, LeFevour is a talented quarterback. I guess his talent level is higher than that of our defense.

Another season at the Bowl has come to an end. The Zips, once again, hover around the .500 mark with a 4-8 record. And, once again, the season that just ended leaves Zips fans with a dissatisfying taste in their mouths.


Video Replays...ESPN

Akron -Central Michigan Box Score

Akron-Central Michigan Game Stats

AKRON DROPS SEASON FINALE...GoZips.com

ZIPS LOSE LATE 12-POINT LEAD

MAC West champ Central Michigan rallies...The Beacon Journal

Area college football results...Canton Repository

LeFevour leads Chippewas past Zips...The Plain Dealer has to use a wire story to report on the Zips game played a half hour away from Cleveland. The New York Times -- NOT.

(photo: Ken Love, Akron Beacon Journal)

11.23.2007

Previews: Akron/CMU, Toledo/BGSU

I've got more basement work to do, so I'll just link the previews:

Saturday Sound Offs

11.22.2007

11.21.2007

Bear With Me Here....

Hey, this time I've got a legitimate excuse for not posting since Saturday morning!

I'm trying to finish my basement so sorry for the lack of keeping up with the blog. I think I'll just leave it up to Don and GMoney, they've got it covered :) .

11.19.2007

Who Deserves The Third Bowl?

With the MAC East and West already crowning their respected champions, there still is a question about which team will receive the thrid bowl bid. In my mind, this is a two team race for the likely Toronto road trip in January. By losing to Ball State last week, I am eliminating Toledo from the discussion. Let's analyze this and figure out who deserves it more.

The contenders are Bowling Green and Ball State.

Bowling Green's case:
The Falcons have the best overall record in the MAC this year at 7-4. Considering this was widely viewed as a rebuilding year, 7 wins (with the potential for an 8th) is a major plus for the program. BG features the prolific passing of QB Tyler Sheehan and the steady hands of Freddie Barnes. They have been competitive out of conference with a win at Minnesota and respectable showings versus both Michigan State and Boston College. There is no doubt that they can put points on the board as they average over 31 per game. An entertaining offense is always attractive for bowl representatives. If the teams aren't that great, will they at least make a fun, interesting game.

The case against Bowling Green:
Like it or not, BG fans aren't the most supportive. They don't travel either. And that's a big negative to bowl reps. I saw the Falcons in person this year down in Oxford and they looked terrible. They played uninspired and were shredded by an offense that makes the 49ers look dynamic. The running game is also anemic. The big rivalry game this Friday with the Rockets will loom large for the Falcons' case.

The case for Ball State:
You could make a strong argument that Nate Davis is the best quarterback in the entire conference. He's a flat out stud. Although they are 6-5, you can't hate on the schedule. All 5 of their losses have come against bowl teams (if Nebraska beats Colorado this week). A one point loss in Lincoln to the then-ranked Huskers as well as losses to Indiana, Illinois, Miami, and Central Michigan is admirable. They've also beaten Navy. The Cardinals average 430 yards a game and 32 points which, like I said earlier, is attractive. WR Dante Love has a shot at a pro career as well.

The case against Ball State:
They NEED a win this weekend at Northern Illinois and a loss by the Falcons to help their cause. Like most MAC schools, the Cardinal faithful don't travel well but who knows, they haven't been excited about football for awhile. Ball State also lacks any semblance of a running game. Just looking at their schedule, they beat the teams that they should and lost to the teams that should have as well. They could have used a signature win (Nebraska).

Quit messing around, who's getting the third spot?
I still think this is up in the air. If Bowling Green beats Toledo on Friday to get to 8-4, the brown and orange can go get some passports. If they lose and Ball State takes care of business like they should up in DeKalb, Nate Davis gets another game on national tv. Personally, I would take Ball State regardless of this weekend's games and it has nothing to do with my hatred toward BG. Nate Davis is a guy that you can promote, Sheehan lacks that quality.

Zips draw first-round bye



UA ZIPS SOCCER TEAM SEEDED #14 IN NCAA TOURNAMENT

The University of Akron Zips drew a first-round bye as the NCAA announced the pairings for the men's national soccer championship tournament. The Zips will play the winner of the Colgate-South Florida game in Tampa, FL on November 28.

NCAA News Release

Soccer Tournament Brackets

<<<>>>

'IT'S GOING TO BE A SHOOTOUT...' BROOKHART ON CMU GAME

On the loss versus Miami (Ohio) last Wednesday...
“When you look back on the game, its crazy. The interception that Chris Jacquemain threw we were down at the 25, second and nine. If he just runs the ball we are third and four and who knows whether we get a first down or not. Worst case scenario would have been Igor Iveljic kicking and then we are probably up 3-0 and win 3-0. But we made a decision to make a change, tried to make something happen to get some points going. We didn’t protect overly well, the ball got loose. It was the only touchdown of the game. Never would I have imagined that low scoring of a game out of that contest.”

On senior wide receiver Jabari Arthur...

“He is really different than anyone else I have been able to coach. I think he has gotten so good, purely on a want to basis. He wants to be good at whatever he does. He has that personality and that attitude towards school. He isn’t the fastest; he doesn’t have the greatest flexibility and he is not a natural hands guy. All those things that you need to be great are not real god given for him as a receiver. I think it’s a real testament to the kind of guy he is. He has worked on his speed, he’s worked on his hands, he’s worked on his route running and he has become extremely effective at it. I think it’s the way he will be the rest of his life. What he chooses to be good at, he will be good at. He’s a smart kid, bright and vibrant. I don’t think I’ve had a bad moment with him. He takes full advantage of the student-athlete experience. He is looking for a good opportunity in the NFL but if it doesn’t work out, he is very well prepared.”

On the senior class...
“It is going to be sad to see some of these guys go. These guys were a big part of that first year when we tried to develop a mentality here. One of the first things we did was try to develop a defensive mentality that I think is showing up. We have made huge strides in that area. I think we got a toughness factor about the defense. These kids overcame a lot and they’ve been through a lot in changing a program. They will be able to look back and say that we were the guys that had to find a ride to practice in the beginning, had to bring our clothes to the P.E. locker room and now we are sitting here having been part of advancing this program to the indoor facility and after winning a championship getting offices approved and continuing to do well and have enough faith in the program to build a stadium. They have a lot to be proud of.”

On the 2007 season as a whole...

“We were very close this season to having a number of wins that we didn’t have. I believe we made some adjustments in the program that were necessary. We knew that there was some transition to this year and these were kids that have been enjoyable to coach. We haven’t had cancer on the team, our locker rooms been good, the attitude has been outstanding, I would coach these kids again. Are we missing some things? Yes, two NFL receivers who didn’t find it important to go to school. That obviously hurts. I made a decision to dismiss six others. They were talented kids and it hurt in depth. Was it the right thing to do? Yes, it was right for the future of the program. I talked with Mack Rhoades and we agreed upon it. Because of those things there were some limitations and we had some things to overcome. We were close to doing that in a number of games. The disappointing thing to me is that we suspended three players throughout the year and two of them were quarterbacks. That limits your chance for success. A different commitment level has to be there at that position. Do we have a bunch of good kids? Absolutely, I would coach them again and look forward to continuing to coach these guys.”

On facing Central Michigan on Friday...

“They are extremely talented. They are throwing up 44 points in a league game. I think it’s going to be a shootout and your going to have to score a lot of points to win. The quarterback (Dan LeFevour) is clearly the best in the league. He makes it happen, both running and throwing the ball. He has very good skills. There are two running backs and a number of receivers that can make some things happen. They will move the ball effectively.”

(source: Akron Media Relations, photo: Jeff Harwell, Zips Sports Photography)

<<<>>>

AKRON GAME PROVES DANGEROUS

CM-LIFE, which has proven itself to be one of the better student newspapers in the MAC, reports that after the let down against EMU, the Akron game is very dangerous. After last week's let down against Eastern, the Chips shouldn't be taking anything for granted. The Akron-CMU game is scheduled for an 11 a.m. kickoff this Friday.

COSTLY MISTAKES

Central Michigan, the Zips next opponent, made costly mistakes in their loss to Eastern Michigan last week. CM-life.com

EASTERN HAD MORE TO PLAY FOR

In what reeks as a rationalization, CM-Life.com says the Eagles beat the Chipps because they had more on the line. Uh-huh...yeah.

(photo: Dave Williams, CMU Athletics)

<<<>>>

ZIPPY WINS AGAIN

For the 10th straight week, Zippy has won in the Capitalonebowl.com Mascot competition. This week, Zippy has a stiff challenge from Hairy Dog of Georgia, who is in second place in the overall standings. Vote for Zippy!

<<<>>>

11.17.2007

Game Previews: Week 12



When: 12:00 PM ET

Why You Should Care: You can make a case for Kent State that they have had one of the most disappointing seasons in the MAC for 2007. This team was really expecting to compete for a MAC East championship, but they only have two conference wins to show for it. Temple on the other hand has surprised a lot of folks by winning three games.

Kent State Will Win Because…: Temple’s offense is atrocious. The Owls rank 115th in scoring offense! The Golden Flashes have a mediocre defense, but they shouldn’t break too much of a sweat playing against this Temple offense.

Temple Will Win Because…: Kent State is down to their fourth-string QB right now! Jon Brown has to fill in for Julian Edelman, Anthony Magazu, and Giorgio Morgan. All of these guys have succumbed to injuries. Temple also has a solid run defense and if Kent State becomes too one-dimensional, the Temple defense should have its way with KSU.

Keep an Eye on…: Dominique Harris. This DB is one of the best defensive players on the Temple football team and since there’s not going to be a whole lot of offense in this game, the defenses will be the story of the day.

Prediction: Temple will come oh-so painstakingly close to pulling this off at home, but I think Eugene Jarvis will provide just enough of a spark for the Kent State offense. As long as Brown doesn’t make too many mistakes, Kent State should be fine. I like them even with their fourth-stringer, 23-17.



When: 1:00 PM ET

Why You Should Care: Buffalo’s hopes of going bowling for the first time slipped big-time with their loss to Miami OH two weeks ago. With a bye week sandwiched in between, Buffalo should be ready for a hot Bowling Green team that loves chucking the ball all over the place.

Bowling Green Will Win Because…: If Willie Geter is ready to go, put this one in the bank. The guy is great at darting up and down the field and he’s one of the best horizontal runners in the MAC. Even so, Tyler Sheehan and the passing game will be the modus operandi against Buffalo’s 67th ranked pass defense. The Falcons lay claim to the 15th ranked passing offense.

Buffalo Will Win Because…: These guys are the team of destiny, aren’t they? Even if they don’t win the MAC East, you’d have to hope these guys will earn their first .500 season at the FBS level ever. Bowling Green’s rushing defense is horrid so if James Starks can have a big day, they might just win this game.

Keep an Eye on…: Naaman Roosevelt. This guy has big-play potential written all over him. He’s got a knack for making the game-changing play for Buffalo and his ability to return kicks makes him very dangerous. Look for him to bust some big gains.

Prediction: Buffalo will hang around, but Bowling Green’s offensive ability will prove too tough to halt. The Bulls don’t have enough defensively to get the job done. Look for BGSU’s running game to do a little bit. In the end though, the Falcons will take it, 40-22.



When: 2:30 PM ET, CSTV

Why You Should Care: Can Northern Illinois get any momentum rolling after a win against Kent State? This offense is struggling mightily to get anything going and a game against Navy just might turn that around. Navy is Navy and it will be a huge test for the down Huskies.

Northern Illinois Will Win Because...: Even though they haven't been able to put up any points on the board this season, Navy's defense is one of the worst in the FBS. Delaware and North Texas just absolutely had their way with this unit. Northern Illinois should be able to cross the 30-point line for just the third time this season.

Navy Will Win Because...: It doesn't help that Northern Illinois ranks 108th in rushing defense........yikes. I'm sure you guys know what Navy has the most potent rushing attack in all of college football. Plus the game is in Annapolis.

Keep an Eye on...: Reggie Campbell. Whenever this guy touches the ball, he makes the most of it. The guy can fly and I wish good luck to the Northern Illinois defense trying to contain him.

Prediction: Northern Illinois will move the football, but unfortunately for them, they won't stop Navy. The Middies will win, 52-28.



When: 3:30 PM ET, Big 10 Network

Why You Should Care: Iowa could be on the verge of locking up a bowl bid if they go 7-5 with Western Michigan totally tanking in a year of high expectations.

Western Michigan Will Win Because…: Iowa isn’t that great at defending the pass and that’s what Western Michigan does the best. The Broncos also shouldn’t break a sweat defending the Iowa offense because of its lack of playmakers. The Hawkeyes are 110th in total offense and they were only able to get 16 against Northern Illinois….

Iowa Will Win Because…: They’re the Big 10 team, they’re at home, and they have a much better defense than Western Michigan’s offense. The Broncos will be going up against a stiff defense that just doesn’t allow too many things to happen. Iowa is 16th in scoring defense.

Keep an Eye on…: Mitch King. This Iowa D-lineman should find some gaps in the pass protection because Western currently ranks 96th in sacks allowed.

Prediction: Western might be able to hang around for a little while, but the bottom line is they don’t have the horses to beat a team like Iowa. The Hawkeyes are playing for their bowl lives on senior day, so fat chance, WMU. Iowa wins, 30-10.

11.16.2007

Preview: Eastern Michigan vs. Central Michigan



When: 7:00 PM ET

Why You Should Care: Does Eastern Michigan have any fight left in them? The season has pretty much gone according to plan, but the Eagles must not be happy. They might be able to catch a team that has already clinched the MAC West title (and probably a Motor City Bowl bid). The Chips don't have anything left to play for besides pride against their in-state rival.

Eastern Michigan Will Win Because...: They have been able to move the ball somewhat against bad defenses. They have shown this over the last two weeks against Toledo and Bowling Green. Luckily for them, the Chippewa defense has been atrocious all season long and if they're looking for a game that could inject some life into the EMU offense, this is the game that they want to play.

Central Michigan Will Win Because...: They're a lot better. This team looks like last year's CMU team (in MAC play). The offense is clicking on all cylinders right now and they're not having any issues scoring with Dan LeFevour back there. The Eagles have played a little bit of defense at different points in the season, but overall, this isn't a very good unit we're talking about here.

Keep an Eye on...: Dan LeFevour. He should be able to torch the EMU defense with his legs and his arm.

Prediction: Central Michigan will have way too much firepower at home to be stopped. In a pretty boring game due to the lack of competitiveness, CMU will win 38-18.

11.15.2007

A Great Week For The Redhawks



I attended last night's "worst game ever". Man, that sucked. I'm still trying to unthaw as the wind was frigid and ruthless. 7-0? Are you serious? 7-0!!! But you know what, nothing can bring me down right now. I'm on cloud nine (whatever that means).

Miami athletics are experiencing one helluva perfect week.

Let's start with Tuesday night. It was the first game of the basketball season for Charlie Coles and the boys and into Millett Hall came local rival, Xavier. X used a big run to close the first half fueled by Miami turnovers and ineptitude. Down 11 at half, I was ready to turn the game off. Not so fast. The Redhawks flat out dominated the final 20 minutes behind the new 3-headed scoring monster of Tim Pollitz, Mike Bramos, and Kenny Hayes. When Drew Lavendar missed his running lay up as time expired, I could almost picture every Miami alumnus jumping around their living room/bar, high-fiving anyone in sight, and feeling a sense of jubilation that hasn't been felt in awhile. It was different from the MAC Championship game last year. In a way, it was better. Because this game showed our fans and students, this team is really freaking good and we will be killing teams all season. I couldn't be more excited. And did you see the student section??? When the hell did Miami get students that cared about OUR teams??? I love it! This is going to be a special season for the Red and White.

And now onto last night. Words can't describe how much that game sucked to watch. Last year, I attended the N'Western/Miami game which was 0-0 at half. But it wasn't 0-0 in the 3rd. Or 0-0 INTO THE 4TH!!! The temperature dropped about 20 degrees during the game while the wind picked up about 15 mph. The concession stand ran out of coffee and only had the highly menstrual hot chocolate beverage. Disgusting. Even with a Redhawks win, very few things went right. At about 6 pm, my dad and I are tailGREATing and Rece Davis and Mark May walked right by. No more than 5 feet away. Dad said something to May Day about the Redskins but he totally ignored him. No sign of Lou Holtz though which I found strange since he was doing coverage (likely terribly). There was no hangover effect with the students either. A decent amount of kids made it out and were still pretty raucous. I give them a lot of credit, I love this new student enthusiasm. The Miami defense was fantastic. Akron's offense may be terrible, but still, a shutout is a shutout. Great effort.

And you know what the best part of all is? Our Magic Number is 1. Go Falcons!!! Beat those Bulls!!! Let us get killed by Central Michigan in the MAC Championship game!!!

What a great week. There have been almost too many bad weeks so I'm going to enjoy this.

11.14.2007

Miami 7, Akron 0



TURNOVERS RULE AKRON-MIAMI GAME

The Zips defense was great. The offense, on the other hand, seemed to have never make it to Oxford, stuck somewhere in suburban Dayton on the trip down to southwest Ohio. Perhaps the offense watched the game on ESPN2 from a bar in Huber Heights, the world's largest community of brick homes. The only consolation was that Miami's offense was just as bad.

It figures that the first touchdown by either side was scored by the defense. Unfortunately, it was the Miami defense who scored with 9:38 left in the third quarter after the ball was knocked out of the hands of Zips quarterback Carlton Jackson on the first series of downs after replacing starter Chris Jacquemain. Jackson was under intense pressure from the Miami D-line, when he made a bad situation worse by trying to pass the ball, not getting enough forward motion on his arm, thus causing the fumble. That was it for Jackson. He found himself back on the bench after the mistake, which seems to permeate the Zips offense this year.

A quick three and out by the Zips with Jacquemain back at the helm followed by a poor rugby punt by John Stec, gave the RedHawks great field position and control of the game.

The defense kept the Zips in the game led by captain John Mackey, who displayed a never-ending supply of guts and leadership while recovering from a torn ACL. Mackey was outstanding with two end-zone interceptions. But despite the red-zone turnovers by the RedHawks, the Zips couldn't cash in with an offense that would take one step forward and two steps back.

When it was all over, both teams committed seven turnovers, three for Akron, four for Miami. Five of the turnovers were interceptions thrown by the inexperienced quarterbacks of both teams. Jacquemain threw the ball 33 times, completing only 12. The RedHawks' Dan Raudabaugh wasn't much better with a 16 for 31 night.

With the win, Miami clinches the MAC East title. You have to wonder how the game could have turned out if the Zips had the least bit of offense.

Not much else to say about an ugly, ugly game.

RedHawks' defense delivers only points...The Akron Beacon Journal

Miami wins East in thriller...The Plain Dealer

RedHawks' D allows Zips (creative...not)...Cincinnati Enquirer

GoZips.com write up

Yahoo Sports

Post-game quotes

Game stats

Box Score

(action photos: Associated Press; John Mackey: Jeff Harwell, Akron Sports Photography)

11.13.2007




AKRON AT MIAMI OF OHIO

There is a lot on the line for Miami of Ohio as they meet the Zips in another mid-week, made for TV appearance on ESPN2. If the RedHawkSkins win this game, in which they are favored by nine points, their MAC East Division record would improve to 4-1 -- so -- Akron, which has been out of the divisional race since the Temple game, has a chance to play spoiler again, as it did with last week's victory over the Ohio U Snobkittens. Akron's victory over OU spoiled a chance for the MAC East Championship to be on the line when Miami meets their arch-rival in Athens next week.

With a victory, Miami of Ohio would come within one game of clinching, at least a share, of the MAC East title for the fourth time in the last five years. The Zips fortunes in "The Cradle of Coaches" has not been very impressive, losing the last six out of seven games in Oxford.

The RedHawks have won their last three contests at Yager Stadium, defeating Syracuse (17-14) and Buffalo (31-28). Miami has not won four consecutive games on its home field since it won five in a row at Yager during the 2004 season.

Miami tops the MAC in scoring defense, allowing 26 points per game through 10 contests. Through five conference games, the RedHawks have yielded a league-leading average of just 16.4 points.


DUELING QBs

Like Akron, Miami has had two quarterbacks leading their offense -- sophomore Dan Raudabaugh and Senior Mike Kokal. The season started with Raudabaugh as Kokal's back-up, however, head coach Shane Montgomery used both on a regular basis. Raudabaugh and Kokal have combined for 2,830 yards passing and 11 touchdowns. Both chalked up an impressive performance in a three-overtime, 41-35 loss at Minnesota, with a combined 30 completions in 52 attempts for 418 yards. The two-quarterback sho ended, however, when Kokal injured a knee in game six against Kent State. Since then, Raudabaugh has started every game, leading the RedHawks to two wins and two losses.

Defensively, Miami runs a 4-3. The D-line has a nice mix of two sophomores, a junior and a senior, who can put pressure on the quarterback. Against Buffalo, the Miami D-line had six sacks, adding to their MAC-leading tally of 25.


Miami is also strong in the specialty phase of the game. Junior punter Jake Richardson ranks seventh in the nation with an average of 45.6 yards per kick. Eugene Harris, a freshman, ranks second in the MAC in punt returns, averaging 11 yards per return.

REDHAWKS HAVE BLUE BLOOD


You will notice two famous names on the Miami roster. Junior linebacker Chris Shula, who is normally a back-up, starting only one game against Vanderbilt, is the grandson of NFL Hall of Fame coach and John Carroll grad Don Shula. Another name you may recognize is Nate Parseghian, Miami's starting place kicker. Yes, Nate is the grandson of former Notre Dame coach and Miami alum (and Akron native) Ara Parseghian.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Miami is going to be a tough game for the Zips. Akron's young offensive line, although improving, is going up against a formidable foe in Miami's front four. The Zips' defense is taking on a potent passing attack guarded by the only offensive line to ever earn the MAC East Division Players of the Week Award. A talented RedHawk team, combined with the fact that the Zips look forward to playing in Oxford about as much as General Custer vacationed at Little Big Horn, means a long night for the blue and gold.

Akron at Miami game notes



Preview: Toledo vs. Ball State

Just a quick announcement here, but sorry for not getting the previews for the Kent State/NIU and Penn State/Temple games. GMoney, by the way, correctly predicted a Northern Illinois upset, but it never made its way onto here. The reason? Well, I drifted away into to sleep while watching the remaining minutes of the Rutgers/Army game last Friday night.

Then, I didn't have access to a computer on Monday so I wasn't able to recap the weekly action! So, once again, I'm a slacker :(





When: 7:30 PM ET, ESPN2

Why You Should Care: This game certainly does provide a lot of intrigue with the MAC bowl picture up in the air at this point. Ball State sits at 5-5, Miami OH sits at 5-5, and Toledo sits at 5-5. It's beginning to look like Bowling Green will get one of those 3 MAC bids up for grabs (or 4 if Louisville can't become eligible) assuming they can force a split against Buffalo and Toledo which isn't a given. CMU is a lock for the Motor City Bowl. So the MAC is in a state of flux when it comes to its bowl representations. Plus, if you like offense this is your game! Ball State and Toledo are loaded offensively, but neither defense has had a lot of luck this year.

Toledo Will Win Because...: This team is about as hot as they come offensively as they've been racking up the yards. The Cardinal defense gives up about 435 yards a game! The Rockets have been averaging about 46 points a game over their last five.

Ball State Will Win Because...: As much as you can say about Ball State's defense, they are 5th in turnover margin. Plus, Toledo's defense has been downright terrible, 115th in the nation in points allowed per game. Nate Davis should have a career day.

Keep an Eye on...: Jalen Parmale. Most MAC people are aware of what Parmele can do, but those who will be tuning in for the first time to Toledo football will be impressed. He should be primed for a big day because, let's face it, Ball State's run defense isn't all that spectacular....

Prediction: Toledo's defense and lack of home field will prevent them from pulling out the victory. I'm sure most of us remember that great finish these two teams had last year, but just expect more scoring this go-around. Ball State will come up with one more crucial defensive stop, offensive play, and turnover to win a close game. Ball State wins, 41-35.