Upon first glance it may appear that it was a rough week for the Mid-American Conference in non-conference play in week two with only one non-conference victory coming courtesy of Ohio's win over Louisiana-Lafayette, 31-23, deep in the heart of Cajun country. But that would be a bit short-sighted.
Photo by: Jim Klapthor/MAC Report Online
Considering that the MAC played three road contests against Big Ten opposition and another road game against the SEC, the MAC was hardly expected to register victories in any of those contests, however, Miami took Minnesota into triple overtime before falling while Bowling Green made Michigan State earn a hard fought 28-17 win as quarterback Tyler Sheehan continues to shine in the early going and Akron battled Ohio State, trailing only 3-2 at halftime, before falling 20-2. Even Kent State's 56-20 loss to Kentucky is a bit deceiving as the Golden Flashes went into halftime tied with the Wildcats at 14-14 and out gained the Wildcats by a wide margin before turnovers did them in.
Out of conference losses by Northern Illinois to Southern Illinois and Western Michigan losing at home to Indiana were the only two games that could be classified as surprising or disappointing.
One thing that we have seen in the early going is that the MAC, overall, has been very competitive on the road in non-conference play and has the potential to make life uncomfortable for its non-conference opposition the rest of the way.
Meanwhile Buffalo gave Temple a rude welcome to the MAC, throttling the Owls 42-7 in Temple's first conference game as a member of the Mid-American Conference, to claim first place in the MAC East while Central Michigan and Ball State each staked an early claim to first place in the MAC West with wins over Toledo and Eastern Michigan respectively.
Flipping The Script
Last season Bowling Green led the MAC in rushing, averaging 176.8 yards per game. It was the first time in 42 years that the Falcons had led the MAC in rushing. This season the Falcons appear to have regained their high-flying form behind sophomore quarterback Tyler Sheehan.
Two games into the 2007 season, Bowling Green tops the MAC in passing offense, averaging 353.5 yards passing per game, 54 yards per game more than Western Michigan which occupies the number two spot in the MAC passing rankings. Sheehan leads the MAC in total offense (336.5 yards per game) and passing yards per game (341.5 yards per game) and also ranks among the NCAA leaders by placing sixth nationally in completions per game (33), seventh in total passing yards (683) and eighth in total offense.
When asked if the MAC should be concerned about the Falcons and Bowling Green's high-octane offense following the Falcons' contest at Michigan State, Brandon was a bit cryptic, stating simply "They Better. They Better."
Top of the Charts
Another MAC performer turning heads is Western Michigan wide receiver Jamarko Simmons.
Simmons has caught fourteen passes in each of the Broncos' first two games and ranks first nationally in receptions per game and third in receiving yards per game, averaging 151 yards per contest. Simmons tops the MAC in both categories and is fifth in the MAC in all-purpose yards, averaging 149.5 yards per game.
Another Bronco, Brandon West, tops the MAC in all-purpose yards with an average of 243.5 yards per game which is good for fourth nationally.
Around The Conference
(12) Ohio State 20, Akron 2.
Quick Take: The Zips took an early 2-0 lead when LB Brion Stokes tackled Ohio State's Chris Wells in the end zone and trailed only 3-2 at halftime. The Buckeyes' defense however was just too much to overcome for the Zips who were forced to punt 14 times as the Buckeyes defeated Akron 20-2. The Zips kept the contest close, trailing 13-2 heading into the fourth quarter and forced five Buckeyes turnovers in the contest. The Zips were held to three yards net rushing on 19 attempts for an average of 0.2 yards and were limited to 69 total yards on offense.
**The 14 punts by Akron's John Stec set a school single-game record.
**Akron recorded two first downs on their first possession but did not record another first down until five minutes remained in the game.
**Brion Stokes' safety was the first for Akron since October 20, 2001 against Bowling Green.
** "We played our hearts out. We played to the last snap and it shows that we can hang with anybody." Akron DB John Mackey,
** "I think it's the best defense we have played against. We knew it would be tough, but maybe not this tough." Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart
** "Our goal was to play a tight football game and have a chance to win it in the fourth quarter. We were pretty close to doing it but didn't find a way to win it." Brookhart
Michigan State 28, Bowling Green 17.
Quick Take: For the second straight week Bowling Green traveled into Big Ten territory. One week after defeating Minnesota, the Falcons gave Michigan State all it could handle before falling, 28-17 to the Spartans. The teams traded first half touchdowns and entered the halftime locker room tied at 14-14. The Falcons first half scoring came courtesy of a pair of Tyler Sheehan touchdowns, one through the air to Tyrone Pronty for a 23-yard touchdown and the other on a six-yard rushing score. Bowling Green was limited however to only a field goal in the second half as Sheehan was sacked six times.
**Falcons WR Freddie Barnes had a career-best nine receptions and has fifteen receptions on the season, after recording a total of twenty receptions in 2006.
**Bowling Green's John Haneline has recorded double figures in tackles for two straight weeks and has 25 tackles on the season.
**Michigan State was limited to 4-7 in red zone conversions while the Falcons scored on their two trips inside the Spartans' twenty-yard line.
** "They (Michigan State) had Play Station guys. My guys are miniature Play Station guys. We played with great heart but that just wasn't enough today." Bowling Green head coach Gregg Brandon.
** "I think we'll do a real good job with the MAC. I think teams are going to look at us more than they would have last year." Bowling Green QB Tyler Sheehan.
** "If you have eleven guys with heart and soul and desire, I'm going to take those eleven guys over standout players any day." Bowling Green TE Sean O'Drobinak.
Buffalo 42, Temple 7.
Quick Take: Buffalo welcomed Temple into the MAC with a 42-7 triumph that has the Bulls sitting alone in first place in the MAC East. The Bulls raced out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and were never threatened. Buffalo surprised the Owls by opening with a four-receiver set and hit pay dirt on the game's opening play from scrimmage when QB Drew Willy connected with James Starks for a 74-yard touchdown. Buffalo's Mike Newton then returned an interception for a 50-yard touchdown just four minutes later and Mario Henry completed the opening quarter onslaught by scoring on a 33-yard run. The Owls were held to -36 yards net rushing for the contest while Buffalo's Mario Henry rushed for 125 yards.
**Buffalo QB Drew Willy completed 20-22 passes for a 91% completion rate which is a school record and the third-best single game performance in MAC history.
**Bulls' DE Trevor Scott recorded two sacks, the fourth multiple sack game of his career.
**The win at Temple was Buffalo's first road win under head coach Turner Gill.
** "We came out and punched them in the mouth and they folded." Buffalo CB Kendrick Hawkins.
** "All I saw was daylight. I saw a couple of good blocks thrown when I cut back and it was wide open." Buffalo FS Mike Newton on his 50-yard interception TD return.
** "We never got any run game going. That's the understatement of the year, maybe the decade." Temple head coach Al Golden.
Ball State 38, Eastern Michigan 16.
Quick Take: Ball State, behind Nate Davis' 306 yards passing and four touchdowns, defeated Eastern Michigan 38-16 to claim a share of first place in the MAC West. The Cardinals struck early going up 7-0 on a four play drive that saw Davis connect with MiQuale Lewis on a 77-yard pass on the Cardinals' first play from scrimmage. The Cardinals built up a 24-9 halftime lead as Davis tossed three of his four touchdown passes in the opening half. Eastern Michigan was held to 59 yards of total offense in the second half and tallied only 262 yards on offense for the game.
**Eastern Michigan's second-quarter touchdown, a 67-yard pass from Andy Schmitt to DeAnthony White, was the first touchdown scored by EMU since its contest against Navy last season, a span of four games.
**Ball State has now limited opposing defenses to less than 300 total yards in each of its last three games.
**Dontayo Gage set a new Eastern Michigan record at Rynearson Stadium when he returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, eclipsing the previous school record, an 88-yard KO return for a touchdown against Temple in 1993.
** "We were all in rhythm. Everybody was calm and we just went out and played our game." Ball State QB Nate Davis.
** "You have to compete on every down and that's the best thing about us. We never let up." Davis.
** "I was surprised at our secondary's struggles, but (Ball State QB) Nate Davis is a terrific athlete. He made a lot of tough throws, throwing off of his back foot and sidearming some throws that found their target." Eastern Michigan head coach Jeff Genyk.
Minnesota 41, Miami 35 (3OT)
Quick Take: Miami came heartbreakingly close to handing Minnesota its second straight home loss against the Mid-American Conference but came up short in a triple overtime thriller, 41-35. Minnesota, which was defeated by Bowling Green at home in the season-opener, secured the win in the third overtime session on Amir Pinnix's 2 yard touchdown run. Miami had a chance to pull the game out in the second overtime after Minnesota failed to convert on a field goal attempt on its second overtime possession but Trevor Cook's 33-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right and Miami was kept off the board in the third overtime. The RedHawks rallied back from a 28-12 fourth quarter deficit and forced overtime when Cook connected on a 36-yard field goal with eleven seconds remaining in regulation. Miami sophomore QB Daniel Raudabaugh, playing in relief of Mike Kokal who was pulled from the game, tossed two fourth quarter touchdowns in a span of a little more than three minutes and then drove the RedHawks into scoring position to set up Cook's game-tying field goal.
** Miami is now 0-4 all-time in overtime contests.
** Both teams recorded 577 yards in total offense, with Miami throwing for 418 yards.
** Miami was held to 3-17 on third down conversions.
** RedHawks QB Daniel Raudabaugh was 13-24 with 222 yards passing and two touchdowns in relief duty.
** "If we make that kick it's probably one of the best wins ever at Miami." Miami head coach Shane Montgomery on the missed FG in second overtime that would have won the game.
** "I jumped a little early and pushed it. Usually I wait for Mike Rummler to snap the ball. It was just a mental breakdown." Miami PK Trevor Cook.
** "I didn't lose any confidence in (starting QB) Mike Kokal. He's played some good football for us. We will play the guys we feel will give us the best chance of winning against Cincinnati." Montgomery on his decision to pull Kokal and whether he will start next week.
Ohio 31, Louisiana-Lafayette 23.
Quick Take: Ohio recorded the MAC's only non-conference win of the week behind a gritty come from behind effort that saw the Bobcats rally from a 20-10 halftime deficit to record a 31-23 road victory over the Ragin' Cajuns. Bobcats' senior running back Kalvin McRae led the comeback effort with three of his four touchdowns coming in the second half as Ohio put up 14 unanswered fourth-quarter points to put the game away. Louisiana-Lafayette mounted a late comeback effort but Ohio's Landon Cohen recovered a fumble by ULL WR Louis Lee at the Bobcats' four-yard line to secure victory. Ohio, at 2-0, is the only undefeated MAC squad.
** Ohio QB Brad Bower threw for a career high 264 yards, completing 17-28 passes, including a 44-yard TD pass to Kalvin McRae.
** Kalvin McRae recorded more rushing yards in the fourth quarter, 48, than he had in the first three quarters combined (36).
** The Ragin' Cajuns out gained the Bobcats, 534-416 yards.
** "We knew it was going to be a four-quarter type of game. This is how we play. We tough it out." Ohio RB Kalvin McRae.
** "They made the plays and we didn't. You are playing a team that knows how to hang in there and win. My hat is off to them." ULL head coach Ricky Bustle.
** "We wanted to come out and play four quarters of physical football and I think we did that." Ohio head coach Frank Solich.
Kentucky 56, Kent State 20
Quick Take: Kent State dominated Kentucky statistically in the first half, including 215 yards rushing alone in the opening stanza, but went into halftime tied 14-14. The Golden Flashes had a chance to take the lead before the half ended but ran out of time before they could try for the go-ahead field goal attempt. The second half though proved Kent State's undoing. The Golden Flashes had an opportunity to take the lead on their first possession of the third quarter but fumbled the ball at the Kentucky 7-yard line, one of four turnovers on the day for the Golden Flashes who also converted only 2-4 red zone chances into points. The Wildcats then responded with 21 unanswered points and the route was on.
** The 56 points scored by the Wildcats were the most against Kent State since the Golden Flashes surrendered 63 points to Connecticut in 2002 in a 63-21 loss.
** Kent State out gained Kentucky in the first half, 268-96 yards.
** Golden Flashes' RB Eugene Jarvis rushed for 131 yards, including 124 yards in the first half.
** QB Julian Edelman also went over the century mark in rushing, finishing with 135 yards rushing on 24 carriers, both career highs.
** "Our turnovers are a problem right now. We have seven turnovers in two games. That's just too many. We have to respect the ball better than that." Kent State head coach Doug Martin.
** "We feel we can play with pretty much any team. I'm pretty sure we showed that today even though we didn't finish. We could be playing in the ACC and SEC too. I mean, they put on their pants just like we do." Kent State RB Eugene Jarvis.
** "Maybe we weren't ready to play. Maybe we were looking ahead." Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks.
Southern Illinois 34, Northern Illinois 31.
Quick Take: Northern Illinois led 31-14 in the fourth quarter and appeared headed to an easy victory over Southern Illinois, which plays in the FCS, then the roof caved in, or so it seemed. The Salukis scored 20 unanswered fourth quarter points to stun the homestanding Huskies, 34-31. The Salukis started their comeback with a fourth-quarter 52-yard interception return for a touchdown, the second long interception returned for a touchdown for SIU, which also opened the scoring with a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter. Southern Illinois then closed to within 31-28 when Ryan Kernes caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Nick Hill with 1:01 left in the contest. The Salukis recovered their onside kick and Hill hit Justin Allen with the game-winning 30-yard TD pass with twenty-two seconds remaining. The win overshadowed a three touchdown performance by NIU RB Justin Anderson who saw extended time when starting RB Montell Clanton left the contest with a torn ACL. Clanton is expected to be out for the rest of the season. The Huskies also lost the services of linebacker Tim McCarthy who suffered a knee injury and may also be lost for the season.
** The victory by Southern Illinois is their second win in two seasons over an FBS team as the Salukis also defeated Indiana in 2006.
** Northern Illinois has started the last three seasons 0-2.
** NIU QB Dan Nicholson had a streak of 15 completions during the game, but also had two of his three interceptions returned for touchdowns.
** "They finished and we didn't. We have nobody to blame but ourselves." Northern Illinois head coach Joe Novak.
** "He's a good player. A gunslinger. But he needs to make better decisions." Novak on QB Dan Nicholson.
** "Our kids never, ever quit and we found a way to fight back. Our quarterback stepped up and made big plays." Southern Illinois head coach Jerry Kill.
Central Michigan 52, Toledo 31.
Quick Take: Central Michigan found its offensive rhythm, breaking open a close game with 21 unanswered fourth quarter points, securing a 52-31 victory over Toledo. After a back and forth battle that saw the Chippewas go into halftime with a 24-21 edge, the Chips, behind a combined 410 yards of total offense from RB Ontario Sneed and freshman WR Antonio Brown, overpowered the outmanned Rockets' defense which has now surrendered 52 points in consecutive weeks, following last week's 52-24 loss to Purdue. Sophomore QB Dan LeFevour returned to form after struggling last week against Kansas, throwing for two TD's and for 244 yards while also rushing for 51 yards and two more touchdowns while his counterpart also had a strong outing as Toledo's Aaron Opelt threw for a career-high 343 yards.
** Central Michigan freshman walk-on WR Antonio Brown hauled in 105 yards receiving and one touchdown.
** Chippewas RB Ontario Sneed rushed for 168 yards, the eighth time he has rushed for 100 or more yards in his career.
** Toledo WR Stephen Williams caught a career-best six passes for 157 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown.
** Central Michigan has now defeated Toledo three straight times after going winless against the Rockets from 1995-2004.
** "We were able to mix up the run with the pass, and that was critical. We're a young football team, and we are going to get better. Dan did a great job of managing the offense for us tonight." Central Michigan head coach Butch Jones who secured his first win as a collegiate head coach.
** "We made some improvements offensively. We are going to have to keep doing it. We are going to have to score a lot of points.'' Toledo head coach Tom Amstutz.
** "We didn't hurt ourselves tonight. Last week we had seven dropped balls and I always tell our team that a dropped ball is like a turnover because it can really stifle your progress." Jones.
Indiana 37, Western Michigan 27.
Quick Take: The Broncos dug themselves a 31-7 halftime hole and were never able to climb out of it, falling to Indiana in their home opener, 37-27. Turnovers plagued the Broncos as starting quarterback Tim Hiller threw a first half interception and lost a fumble that was returned 44 yards for a touchdown giving Indiana a 17-7 lead. Also joining in on the turnover parade for the Broncos were quarterbacks Thomas Peregrin who tossed an interception and lost a fumble, and Drew Burdi who also fumbled. The turnovers were just too much for the Broncos to overcome despite a sparking performance from WR Jamarko Simmons and a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Brandon West.
** Broncos WR Jamarko Simmons had fourteen receptions for the second consecutive week and leads the nation in receptions per game.
** Western Michigan's Brandon West had 346 all-purpose yards, including 212 yards in kick returns to go along with his 98-yard TD return.
** "We need to figure it all out. You can look at the statistics, but at the same time there's a lot of things that are there and they're happening at crucial times and they're stopping drives and we just can't have that.'' Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit.
** "We've got our work cut out for us. The good thing is we've still got 10 weeks and a lot of football to go." Cubit.
** "It really doesn't matter. I want to win. If I had one catch for one yard, I'd be happy. If I had 20 catches for 300 yards and we lost, I wouldn't be happy." Western Michigan WR Jamarko Simmons on his performance.
Players of the Week
MAC Report Online announces its choices for offensive and defensive players of the week for week two of the MAC season.
Offensive Player of the Week
Ontario Sneed, Central Michigan, 168 yards on 29 carries, three touchdowns rushing. 44 yards receiving.
Comment: Sneed recorded 212 all-purpose yards and recorded a career-best three rushing touchdowns in leading Central Michigan to victory over Toledo in the Chippewas' home opener.
Defensive Player of the Week
Larry Hutchinson, LB, Buffalo, Eight tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery,
Comment: Hutchinson had a career day in leading the Bulls' defense during a 42-7 triumph over Temple as the Bulls gained sole possession of first place in the MAC East.
Below is a recap of our picks for week two and the actual results. For the week our picks went 7-3 for a season mark of 16-5.
|Ohio State 34, Akron 17.
||Ohio State 20, Akron 2.
|Michigan State 38, Bowling Green 23.
||Michigan State 28, Bowling Green 17.
|Minnesota 27, Miami 10.
||Minnesota 41, Miami 35 (3OT).
|Ball State 17, Eastern Michigan 10.
||Ball State 38, Eastern Michigan 16.
|Temple 20, Buffalo 16.
||Buffalo 42, Temple 7.
|Ohio 23, Louisiana-Lafayette 20.
||Ohio 31, Louisiana-Lafayette 23.
|Kent State 26, Kentucky 24.
||Kentucky 56, Kent State 20.
|Northern Illinois 27, Southern Illinois 19.
||Southern Illinois 34, Northern Illinois 31.
|Central Michigan 38, Toledo 34.
||Central Michigan 52, Toledo 31.
|Indiana 31, Western Michigan 27.
||Indiana 37, Western Michigan 27.