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Week 2 MAC Roundtable

MacRoundTableAdmittedly, the MAC blogosphere has been an evolving little gem over the last several years. I guess as the MACtion on the field hit fever pitch, the MACtion on the web stepped up their game as well. What has also evolved is the MAC Roundtable. It’s not like King Arthur’s with turkey legs and wenches running around in corsets, because let’s be honest: turkey legs are a gigantic pain in the ass to eat and the service region for the MAC doesn’t lend itself well to females capable of squeezing into anything other than a giant rubbermaid trash can (Exception: the state of Indiana and BSU specifically). Have you seen some of the slumpbusters from Michigan and Ohio? Gooo. I’d rather spend an evening with a lit piece of sandpaper. But I digress.

This week’s MAC Roundtable host is the award-winning, well-read, skilled-in-the-bedroom blog that represents The Ball State University, OverThePylon.net. Those guys are so awesome. And humble. Yes, their lovemaking is only trumped by their humility. Participants in this week’s roundtable were (drumroll):

  1. Eagle Totem for all your EMU needs (via) (ET)
  2. Lets Go Rockets for your various Toledo related goings on (via) (LGR)
  3. Bull Rull for that school that shall not be named from New York (via) (BR)
  4. FalconBlog for the BGSU slant (via) (FB)
  5. Hustle Belt for general MACtion (via) (HB)

We Q’d they A’d, and then we chimed in with the obviously correct perspective for each of the various queries.

1) Now that the first weekend is over what did you learn about your team? Any unexpected surprises? Any lingering questions that are yet to be answered?

ET: Lingering questions? Yeah, we’ve got a few.

As for lessons learned, I think the key one is that, although no one in Ypsi wants to “embrace the process” again, this is not going to be a quick turnaround.

LGR: We learned that the QB situation is settled — gone are the days of multi-QBs playing split series like years past. Ely proved to have good strength, accuracy and the poise of proven leader in only his first game with the Rockets.

The lingering question to be answered is if the defense can step up from years past and put this team over the top. They looked a bit shaky in the opening minutes, but settled down in the second half of Saturday’s game against UNH. A big test for the Rocket defense will be this Saturday against Missouri.

BR: I am not totally surprised that UB had a gaping no mans land in their defensive scheme. The team moved Adam Redden to a safety spot and despite his gifts as an athlete transitioning to safety after being an all conference player *AT LINEBACKER* last season may have been a bit much to ask.

Factor in the way he was used and the play that torched UB early in the third quarter had to happen.

But I am surprised that after being torched and exposed on a long pass the team came out with the exact same alignment the next series only to get torched again. I suppose that I should not be surprised yet here I sit, shocked that we made zero adjustments to the one play the Dukes were using to really hurt us.

FB: You could say that. You could definitely say that. The answer is just this? Will BG be able to stop anyone. The defensive performance against WKU was simply awful, making Brandon Doughty look like Johnny Unitas. There was no coverage, no tackling and no pass rush. The single question for BG–not so much for this week–is whether the team will be able to have good enough defense to compete for a title, or whether they will have to win 52-45.

HB: Well, we learned that the run defense isn’t much better, and that Jarvion Franklin is the next beast of the MAC.

I loved seeing Franklin perform, especially against a Big Ten opponent. It was amazing, and it was a statement to the rest of the conference that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. His 160+ yards set a new Bronco high in the Fleck Era, and he looked powerful doing it. He made holes, broke tackles, and looked somewhat fast. Oh, and he’s a true freshman.

As for the defense, well, they struggled to stop a shaky run game by Purdue. Take nothing away from Mostert and Hunt, both superb athletes on their own, but the Purdue offensive line blows chunks. There were way too many long runs, and the additional loss of Donald Celiscar won’t help matters with the pass game probably opening up now as well. Just a bad week for the Bronco defense.

As for the MAC as a whole, we saw that Kent State and Ohio could be in trouble, Akron and Miami look to have even better seasons than last, Toledo and NIU still aren’t missing a beat (and maybe Ball State as well), and Central and Eastern still look like hot garbage against opponents they really shouldn’t. Oh, and UMass still sucks.

For BSU we learned that life after Jay Bateman on the defensive side of the ball may be a quite enjoyable. Kevin Kelly came in like gangbusters and shut Colgate down. That was nice. We also learned that Colgate sucks something awful so really any data we try to extrapolate out from that win is a mission in futility. Lingering questions for the Cards are offensive related and whether or not the Ozzie Football show is ready to take the MAC by storm.

2) After an opening weekend that saw more than a few tomato cans on MAC schedules, the big boys show up in Week 2 in the likes of Florida, Kentucky, Iowa, Mizzou, and Penn State. Any of the Power 5 get taken down by a MAC squad this weekend? Which one of the marquee games will have your attention?

ET: Well, obviously I’ll be watching EMU at Florida, and as a Kentucky alum I’ll be keeping an eye on Lexington (I remember 2004). I could honestly make a case for any MAC team to win their game this weekend (yes, even EMU…we’ll get there later this week), but if I had to pick one as the most likely MAC win, I’d take Ball State over Iowa. The Hawkeyes look vulneragle after a close call against Northern Iowa last weekend, and I think the Cardinals are entirely capable of getting the job done. Northern Illinois and even Akron may also have decent shots at beating their B1G opponents this weekend.

LGR: Obviously the Toledo vs Missouri game has our attention. Historically, the Rockets play well against big conference opponents at home — recently beating Iowa State, Kansas, Colorado and Pittsburgh. The Gary Pinkel dynamic will be interesting as he coached the Rockets from 1991 – 2000 so that makes for a good story line, if nothing else. We are realistic in our expectations from this game but know the Rockets have the potential to make it interesting.

We won’t discount CMU and Ball State’s chances of giving Purdue and Iowa a test, respectively. But the best MAC / OOC matchup will be at the Glass Bowl.

BR: Kentucky is clearly the most vulnerable team on that list, they are also playing against one of the MAC more consistently good teams. Not long ago the Bobcats took Penn State down and if I had to pick just one MAC team to pull an upset this week I would say Ohio is that team.

To be honest I find losses to Western Kentucky more distressing than a lack of wins against Missou.

FB: I think a number of these games could be really interesting. I’d give NIU a shot over Northwestern, Ball State over Iowa, Ohio over Kentucky and Akron over Penn State, if for no other reason than the travel Penn State has put in. Having said that, the highest profile assignment–and the only home game–is Missouri and UT. The Glass Bowl will be rocking, but I don’t see the Tigers being intimidated and I think they probably have enough.

HB: NIU vs Northwestern.

I also like Ball State to maybe knock off Iowa as well, but NIU should gain complete control over the state of Illinois with this game with both B1G houseguests struggling to do anything. NIU has been the top of the state, and now is the time to prove it against a shaky Wildcat squad. On a related note, have you been to that field? It’s nice. Also, Chicago kicks ass too so that’s a plus.

Ohio struggled to down Kent State, so I can’t see them beating a Kentucky squad. Mizzou seems too powerful for Toledo. Same goes for Penn State and Akron. Florida will stream-roll EMU barring another weather postponement.

Toledo and Missouri, I suppose, but even that has me quite nonplussed. Given the hamblasting that BG took at the hands of WKU and their injuries, the presumptive MAC frontrunner is now reeling. That means it’s someone’s conference to up and grab, and beating a P5 school would be a good way to do that.

3) As Bowling Green was getting destroyed by Western Kentucky, it raised an interesting conundrum among the MAC fans. Do you root against your rivals and hope they take a shanking or should we band together as one MAC and hope for massive upsets? Does the quality of the team matter?

ET: I’ve never been able to care quite enough about any of EMU’s MAC rivals to cheer against them in non-conference play. Maybe if EMU had really been good within the last 25 years I’d feel different though, because the Kentuckian in me always cheers against Tennessee. Always.

LGR: This is a complex issue without a really solid precedence. Let us start by saying that a BGSU loss is like a tiny, bonus Toledo victory and we love to see the Falcons in their rightful place (the losing end of the battle). But, bigger picture, every team needs the conference to be strong in order to help their own cause. Being the number one team in a crap conference doesn’t mean much — it doesn’t impress voters, selection panels, high school prospects, prospective opponents — the list goes on and on. Having a consistent product is very important and the Ws and Ls of the teams in a conference are directly reflected in the perception of the conference. A MAC team losing to an SEC team but putting up a fight does not negatively impact the conference perception (but allows for rivals’ amusement) while a MAC team losing to a lesser conference team without showing any signs of a fight reflects very poorly on the entire conference.

BR: If were going to be honest with ourselves watching a conference foe lose to an FCS team is like driving by a pile up on the highway. You really want to stop and look but at the same time you should feel a little guilty because something very bad happened.

So there are two rules for how we should approach non conference games.

#1 – Always and I mean *always* root for the MAC team out of conference, even if its Ball State!
#2 – You are then somewhat obligated to root for the teams beaten by a MAC squad to have a great year. Even if it means rooting for Indiana because it would make the Cards win look better.

A small part of me enjoyed watching the Cards fall to Liberty a few years back. That little bit of joy needs to be stamped out with the knowledge that it does not do Buffalo any good to see Gardner Webb beat Akron or Nichols sink PJ Fleck’s boat.

Rather than help UB MAC our of conference losses hurt the Bulls, and everyone else in the MAC. When UB had a dumpster fire season in 2010 it was capped with a loss to an Akron team that… Wait for it…. Lost to Gardner Webb! Talk about going from Bad to Worse.

I’d love to see everyone in the MAC go 4-0 out of conference, even if it makes Bowl Selection difficult and raises the chances of getting a “Toledo Job” when the post season games are being handed out.

FB: Are we talking about Toledo? Because then I have to confess that when it comes to that, I don’t care that much about the MAC. Other than Toledo, I root for MAC teams when they play out of conference games. Quality of teams doesn’t really matter, though there is a slight nuance. I root for our teams to beat good teams and not to lose to FCS teams.

HB: Rivals? No, unless the game is REALLY huge (as in, your team wins money too if they win). Otherwise, never rivals. Everyone else in the MAC? You cheer for no matter what in my opinion. It looks good for the conference, and if your team is doing good, a win over them makes things even better.

I don’t care how much money stands to be made, if a team I feel like is a semi-rival of BSU, I will openly despise them and do so without apology. These teams include: Buffalo, Northern Illinois, CMU, Miami, WMU. That money will never flow back into my pockets and after BIG GUVMINT takes their bite out of the taxes, conference teams will end up with approximately $4.52. My hatred is worth far far more than that. $7 at least.

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