MAC Football Week 9 Recap: Getting Bullish Print E-mail
Written by Dave Ruthenberg   
Sunday, October 28 2007
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Photo: Brian Golden
Slowly but surely, the Buffalo Bulls (4-5, 3-0, 4-1) are making believers of us. We are not ready to concede the MAC East title to the Bulls just yet but with the Bulls currently sitting at 3-0 in the MAC East and 4-1 overall in the MAC, it is getting more and more difficult to dismiss the Bulls recent success as being a fluke.

After defeating Akron 26-10 on Saturday, the Bulls have now recorded divisional wins over Akron, Ohio and Temple, and like their counterparts in the West, Central Michigan, control their own destiny and can claim a spot in the MAC Championship Game by winning their remaining intra--divisional games. But it won't be a cakewalk with a road game against Miami next Saturday followed by a home tilt with Bowling Green and a season-ending game at Kent State.

With their fourth win of the year, the Bulls have already set a record by recording their most wins in a season since moving up to Division 1A in 1999 and their three straight home victories are the most for the Bulls since 1998. The Bulls however are 1-4 on the road. Buffalo's three remaining MAC East opponents have a combined record of 11-15 overall so anything is possible still.

Meanwhile in the West, the Central Michigan Chippewas (5-4, 3-0, 4-0) have three games remaining but only two against divisional opponents as the Chips will hit the road next for a Tuesday night battle on November 6 with longstanding rival Western Michigan and then take on in-state rival Eastern Michigan at home on Friday, November 16 before finishing with what shapes up as a fairly meaningless crossover game at Akron. The Chips' two remaining divisional opponents have a combined overall record of 6-12 and the Chips have to be considered odds-on favorites at this point to repeat as MAC West champs, already holding the tiebreaker over second-place Ball State.

But, let's get back to Buffalo.

Personally, we are still having trouble considering the Bulls to be the favorites in the East even at this late stage in the season but, if the Bulls win at Miami on Saturday, count us in as full believers in the Blue Storm.

Quick Stat Check
This week we take a quick look at the MAC leaders in three defensive categories:

Total Tackles
1. Daniel Holtzclaw
Eastern Michigan
2. Clayton Mullins
3. John Haneline
Bowling Green
4. Bryant Haines
Ball State
5. Red Keith
Central Michigan
Tackles For Loss
1. Jason Jones
Eastern Michigan
2. Larry English
Northern Illinois
3. Larry Hutchinson
4. Trevor Scott
4. Brandon Crawford
Ball State
1. Ryan Downard
Eastern Michigan
2. Reggie Corner
2. B.J. Hill
Ball State
3. Josh Gordy
Central Michigan
3. Mike Newton

Here is our recap of the past week's action, with notes and quotes from each game. Also be sure to keep reading for our choices for MAC offensive and defensive players of the week.   

Around The Conference
CMUletterC_Color_small.jpgCentral Michigan 41, Kent State 32.KSU_NoText_Color_small.jpg
Quick Take:  The Chippewas possess the MAC's most explosive offense and its most porous defense so it's a good bet that when the Chips are playing there will be plenty of offense on both sides of the ball and their 41-32 win over Kent State was no exception. The first nine possessions of the game resulted in points for both teams but the Flashes, behind first-time starter, freshman quarterback Girogio Morgan, weren't able to keep pace with the high-octane CMU offense. The Chips led 31-19 at halftime behind Dan LeFevour's three first-half touchdowns and held off the Flashes by pitching a fourth-quarter shutout. Central Michigan remains the only team undefeated in MAC play this season and control their own destiny in their pursuit of a repeat trip to Ford Field for the MAC Championship Game.

With 434 total yards Saturday, Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour reached three career plateaus, surpassing 5,000 career passing yards, 1,000 career rushing yards and 6,000 career all-purpose yards.
**Kent State DB Jack Williams had a career high 19 tackles as well as a forced fumble and one interception.
**Chippewas RB Justin Hoskins had a career single-game high of 24 carries for 151 yards.
**Golden Flashes' RB Eugene Jarvis (156 yards) rushed for 106 yards in the first half, the fifth100-yard half of the season for Jarvis.

"There are a lot of benefits (to playing a close game). We're trying to make a MAC Championship run. We don't know if we are going to get close games coming down to the wire in the next three weeks so this was big. Things get bigger every week and we need a close game to see how we respond to adversity." Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour.
** "That was a really good football team that we just played and I think with the exception of Kentucky, that is the best offensive football team we have played this year. They have a lot of weapons and they do a great job." Kent State head coach Doug Martin.
** "
We are trying to finish up this season on a strong note and we have four quarters to a championship and this (game) was the first quarter. We faced some adversity as a team but we battled through and got a win against a good team." Central Michigan head coach Butch Jones.

Illinois 28, Ball State 17.BallState_Color_small.jpg
Quick Take: The Cardinals went on the road and gave the Fighting Illini a battle before falling, 28-17. The Cardinals briefly grabbed the lead, going up 10-7 early in the third quarter when Mike Dorulla returned an interception 36-yards for a touchdown before Illinois put up two touchdowns later in the quarter to go up 21-10. Ball State answered one of the Illinois scores in the third quarter when QB Nate Davis found Darius Hill for a 24-yard TD, closing the gap to 21-17 but could get no closer and Illinois added an insurance score early in the fourth quarter to finish off the scoring. BSU PK Jake Hogue missed two field goals, one on BSU's opening drive and then failed to connect on a 26-yarder that would have brought the Cardinals to within 21-20.

**Ball State is now 0-36 all-time against BCS opponents.
**Cardinals' QB Nate Davis was held to a season low 167 yards passing and overall Ball State had a season-low output of 337 total yards.
**Illinois rushed for 324 yards, only the second time this season that the Illini have topped 300 yards rushing in a game.

** "
It was very disappointing to lose momentum after getting a great defensive touchdown. Then we let them come right down the field, with almost all running plays, and get their momentum back." Ball State LB Mike Dorulla.
** "In the first half, we kind of held our offense in the game. In the second half, I didn't think, defensively, we held our part of the game plan." Ball State head coach Brady Hoke.
** "There wasn't really panic (after the BSU interception return for a TD). We've been down before and have come back. We knew our offense was going to get it going." Illiniois LB J Leman.

Vanderbilt 24, Miami 13.MiamiRedhawks_Color_small.jpg
Quick Take:
Miami traveled to Nashville to take on the SEC's Vanderbilt Commodores and, like Ball State, put up a good battle in non-conference play before falling 24-13. The RedHawks battled Vandy to a 10-10 halftime stalemate, leading briefly in the second quarter, thanks in large part to three consecutive Vanderbilt turnovers, when QB Daniel Raudabaugh connected with Jamal Rogers on a 40-yard scoring strike to go up 10-7. Miami opened the second half scoring on a 39 yard Nathan Parseghian field goal to again take the lead, going up 13-10. But the Commodores responded with two unanswered second-half scores, putting the game away with just under seven minutes remaining when Cassen Jackson-Garrison scored on a 15-yard run.

**Miami QB Daniel Raudabaugh passed for 217 yards, his third consecutive game over 200 yards passing.
**Vanderbilt WR Earl Bennett became the all-time leading receiver in SEC history with eight catches Saturday for a career total of 215 catches, breaking the old SEC mark of 208 receptions.
**The RedHawks were held to 26 net yards rushing.

** "I was really proud of the way our guys played. For the most part we played toe-to-toe with a great Vanderbilt team. I was worried coming into this game about their offensive line, they have a very experienced, and veteran offensive line against what is a young defensive line for us. They wore us down a little, but we held our own for the most part." Miami head coach Shane Montgomery.
** "It was a hard fought game and we're pleased to get the win. At times, we were our own worst enemy, but I'm proud of our second half effort. We played great defensively and overcame some obstacles on offense. Miami played well and they were opportunistic, to say the least. They kept it close and we were sweating it out in the fourth quarter." Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson.
** "I do feel like we played well today. They are a great football team. We kind of got worn down towards the end of the game. But we still have a lot play for; the MAC Championship is still in front of us." Miami WR Jared Elliot.

819.gifBuffalo 26, Akron 10.zips_small.jpg
Quick Take: The Buffalo Bulls continue to be the surprise team of the MAC and remained undefeated in MAC East play by defeating Akron at home, 26-10. Akron took a 7-0 first quarter lead on a Alex Allen's 1-yard run but Bulls' QB Drew Willy responded with a pair of first-quarter scoring strikes to Ernest Jackson and Naam Roosevelt and the Bulls never trailed again in the contest. The Zips were held scoreless in the second-half. Willy added a third touchdown pass on a three-yard score to Chris Scharon early in the fourth quarter. The Bulls, like Central Michigan in the MAC West, control their own destiny and can claim a spot in the MAC Championship game if they win their remaining intra-divisional games against Miami, Bowling Green and Kent State.

**Buffalo has now won three consecutive home games for the first time since 1998. Buffalo's four wins are also the most since the Bulls moved up to Division 1A in 1999.
**Akron's opening drive touchdown was the third straight game in which the Zips have scored on their opening possession.
**The Bulls have recorded at least two interceptions in four straight games.

** "I'm excited for the fourth and fifth-year seniors to have some experience of success." Buffalo head coach Turner Gill.
** "We had opportunities that we didn't take advantage of. There are six or eight plays every game that change the course of (the game). They (Buffalo) made those plays and we did not take advantage of them."
Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart.
** All week in practice we worked on situations like in the red-zone. We knew it was going to be tough with long drives so we just had to step up and play." Buffalo DB Mike Newton.

E-Eagle-color_small.JPGEastern Michigan 19, Western Michigan 2.WMUBroncos_color_small.jpg
Quick Take: Eastern Michigan kept pace in the MAC West, one-game behind Central Michigan, with a 19-2 homecoming victory over Western Michigan which now finds itself on the brink of elimination in the MAC West title chase. The Eagles' defense forced six Broncos turnovers (three interceptions and three fumbles), and opened up a close contest on a third quarter 55-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Dontayo Gage and then put the game out of reach when freshman QB Kyle McMahon, pressed into duty again due to an injury to starter Andy Schmitt, connected with WR Jacory Stone on a 19-yard TD in the fourth quarter. The Broncos used both Tim Hiller and Thomas Peregrin at QB but were only able to put up 146 yards passing to go along with 53 net rushing yards.

** Eastern Michigan held a 40:29 to 19:31 edge in time of possession.
** Eagles RB Pierre Walker had career single-game highs with 33 carries for 151 yards rushing.
** Three EMU defensive players currently top the MAC charts in individual stats: LB Daniel Holtzclaw (100 tackles); DE Jason Jones (16 TFL) and DB Ryan Downard (6 interceptions).

** "Coach Genyk emphasized the running game all week and I challenged our offensive line and they stepped up and got the job done." Eastern Michigan RB Pierre Walker.
"We have some problems (at QB) with the decision making process and that is something we are going to have to address. Some guys are going to have to turn it around. But if you want to put the blame on anybody, put the blame on me." Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit.
** "Our players were kind of on a mission this week in practice and all of our goals (for the season) are still in front of us." Eastern Michigan head coach Jeff Genyk.

OhioBobcats_color_small.jpgOhio 38, Bowling Green 27.BG_small.jpg
Quick Take: The visiting Ohio Bobcats recorded their first MAC East victory of the season, defeating Bowling Green 38-27 behind three first-half touchdowns from RB Kalvin McRae. Ohio trailed 3-0 early but quickly responded when McRae scored on runs of three-yards and one-yard in the first quarter with McRae's second touchdown capping a 94-yard nine-play drive. Ohio never trailed after going up 7-3 but the Falcons closed to within 21-20 when Anthony Turner scored on a 12-yard run in the third quarter but the Bobcats' defense responded when Kris Luchsinger returned a Tyler Sheehan pass interception 58 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter. Ohio then added another touchdown early in the 4th quarter on 26-yard touchdown pass from Theo Scott, getting his first start of the season, to Taylor Price. The Falcons closed the gap to 35-27 late but could not stop the Bobcats last offensive possession as Ohio added a 27-yard field goal with forty-four seconds remaining to secure the 38-27 victory.

** Ohio RB Kalvin McRae rushed for 200 yards and became Ohio's all-time career rushing leader with 4,026 career rushing yards.
** The Bobcats recorded more than 400 yards of offense for the third consecutive game with 430 total yards.
** Bowling Green's Anthony Turner saw action at running back, quarterback and wide receiver.

** "Ohio came out and knocked us around the first half and we didn't play with the consistency that we needed to win the football game." Bowling Green head coach Gregg Brandon.
** "It (the win) feels great. There's times when we've been our own worst enemy. There's times when the ball bounces the wrong way and we have gone through a lot of injuries. I feel great about how this team has battled through." Ohio RB Kalvin McRae.
"It's all about executing, making it happen, going out there and making a play. We're going through tough times right now, winning and losing, so you just have to go out there and have nothing to lose. Just go out there and make a play. Don't think about it, just do it." Ohio QB Theo Scott.

ToledoRockets_Color_small.jpgToledo 70, Northern Illinois 21.NIU_3CHD_small.jpg
Quick Take:
Toledo scored seemingly at will in destroying the Huskies at the Glass Bowl, 70-21. Rockets' QB Aaron Opelt threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for a fifth TD as the Rockets stormed out to a 42-7 halftime lead and were never challenged by an injury depleted Huskies squad. Wide receiver Nick Moore hauled in three of Opelt's touchdown strikes who was spelled by freshman DJ Lenehan in the fourth quarter. The Huskies remain winless in MAC play while the Rockets have won two straight and can reach the .500 mark with a win against Eastern Michigan after starting the season 2-5.
** Toledo, with 812 yards in offense, shattered the MAC record for offensive yards in a game of 733 set by Marshall in 2002 against Buffalo.
** The 70 points scored by the Rockets were the most ever for Toledo in a MAC game and the third highest point total in their history.
** Toledo QB Aaron Opelt set a single-game career high with 387 yards passing and four touchdowns. Opelt had five total touchdowns.
** Rockets WR Nick Moore had a career single-game high of 145 yards receiving.

** "
Football is a funny game. It's just one of those things. We got some momentum going. Aaron (Opelt) was really sharp and in control of the offense. We got a little momentum and caught fire." Toledo head coach Tom Amstutz.
** "When you have time to wait for your second or third look that says something about your offensive line. A big win like this gives us a lot of momentum for these last three games." Toledo QB Aaron Opelt.
** "
I think everybody is focused better. Everybody is talking about finishing 7-5. Six wins and you're bowl eligible." Toledo WR Nick Moore.

Players of the Week
MAC Report Online announces its choices for offensive and defensive players of the week for week nine of the MAC season.

Offensive Player of the Week
toledo_opelt_small.jpgAaron Opelt, QB, Toledo: 22-28, 387 yards, five touchdowns (four passing; one rushing).
Comment: Opelt, in less than four quarters of play, set career highs in yards passing and touchdowns and was part of a Toledo offensive attack that set a new MAC record with 812 yards in total offense in Toledo's 70-21 victory over Northern Illinois.

bsu_28a.jpgDefensive Player of the Week
Mike Dorulla, LB, Ball State: 8 tackles (5 solo); one forced fumble; 36-yard interception return for touchdown; two pass break-ups
Comment: Dorulla, in addition to his eight tackles, forced fumble and two pass break ups in Ball State's loss to Illinois, also intercepted a pass and returned the interception 36 yards for a touchdown, which gave the Cardinals a 10-7 lead over Illinois in the third quarter.




Prognosticating Prowess
No witty reactions this week. We're just glad to once again be back in the good graces of the football gods after posting a 5-2 mark this past weekend. For the season our picks are now a respectable, if not quite stellar, 52-30.

The week's breakdown:

Illinois 38, Ball State 26.
Illinois 28, Ball State 17.
Akron 27, Buffalo 20.
Buffalo 26, Akron 10.
Central Michigan 42, Kent State 17.
Central Michigan 41, Kent State 32.
Vanderbilt 31, Miami 13.
Vanderbilt 24, Miami 13.
Eastern Michigan 24, Western Michigan 21.
Eastern Michigan 19, Western Michigan 2.
Bowling Green 45, Ohio 31.
Ohio 38, Bowling Green 27.
Toledo 41, Northern Illinois 31.
Toledo 70, Northern Illinois 21.
Last Updated ( Monday, October 29 2007 )
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