Week one of the Mid-American Conference is in the books and the conference lived up to its “MACtion” nickname on opening night. Akron started the season with an onside kick, the power went out during Ohio vs Central Michigan, and Miami and Ball State added another chapter in the storied Red Bird Rivalry. See which teams improved their stock, and which fell in this week’s Power Rankings.
This season has the potential to be a special one for the Bulls and snapping an 11-game losing streak to Northern Illinois was a great way to start it. Star running back Jaret Patterson rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, letting everyone know that he’s the best running back in the conference.
The 49-30 win was actually less close than the final projected. The Bulls dominated the Huskies on the road and should be able to clean up those garbage time touchdowns as the season progresses. Next week’s showdown against Miami could be the Bulls’ toughest test, but if Buffalo passes it the road to Detroit will be wide open.
Toledo ( ↑ 2)
It’s always good to beat your archrival, but even better to start off a season by blowing them out. Toledo’s 38-3 victory over Bowling Green spells a lot of good for the Rockets this season.
Senior quarterback Eli Peters threw for a career-high four touchdowns and 214 yards against the Falcons, aided by perennial key-receivers Bryce Mitchell and Bryant Koback. The Rockets nearly doubled Bowling Green’s 267 total offensive yards with 524. The defense managed to force three turnovers, two of which were interceptions.
Toledo busted its opening game wide open and showed the MAC it is the powerhouse it was predicted to be. It has a chance to solidify that claim when it faces Western Michigan next week. The Broncos managed a blow out of its own against Akron, which puts emphasis on the importance that Toledo’s offense live up to week one.
Central Michigan (↓1)
The Chippewas pulled away Wednesday night with a 30-27 victory over Ohio, but the outcome was a tossup for much of the game.
Redshirt freshman Daniel Richardson exploded in his debut at starting quarterback Wednesday, throwing for 243 yards and a touchdown. Beginning a college career with a performance like Richardson’s on Wednesday spells only good things for Central Michigan’s offense. To boot, running back Kobe Lewis rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown, already showing a strong start to his junior season.
The defense, while holding Ohio to a single touchdown and forcing two turnovers in the second half, was struggling to adapt to Ohio’s two-quarterback system in the first half. It managed to hold its ground once finding a pattern in the two’s very different playstyles, but the defense will have to work on shutting down offenses quicker than it did Wednesday.
Western Michigan ( ↑ 3 )
Western Michigan had a nearly flawless game against Akron. With a 58-13 win, it was clear that the Zips just couldn’t hang with the Broncos.
Quarterback Kaleb Eleby put on a passing clinic, throwing for 12/16 with 262 yards and three touchdowns. The rushing attack was also strong as four running backs scored for the Broncos.
Western Michigan will see Toledo next week who’s coming off a strong victory over rival Bowling Green.
Miami ( ↓1 )
Wednesday night was historic for the RedHawks for a number of reasons. For one, the thrilling 38-31 victory over Ball State was Miami’s 300th all-time in the MAC, but it was also another win in the all-time series against the rival Cardinals.
The win didn’t come easily, however.
Miami overcame a 14-10 halftime deficit behind the emergence of backup quarterback AJ Mayer. Mayer took over for injured starter Brett Gabbert in the second quarter and quickly took over the reins of the team. Mayer’s 16 completions for 212 yards and three touchdowns was one of the best performances of the week.
That still doesn’t excuse the faults of the RedHawks defense, though. Miami gave up 478 yards to the Cardinals and could be in for a long night next week at MAC-favorite Buffalo.
A few made kicks and a couple less penalties and the Bobcats could’ve seen themselves toward the top of this week’s Power Rankings. Ohio hung tough with Central Michigan, falling 30-27, and showed a lot of promise throughout.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Kurtis Rourke stole the show in his first start. He went 12/19 for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Rourke struggled running the ball (-8 yards) so coach Frank Solich deferred to graduate transfer Armani Rogers to lead the offense throughout the game.
Ultimately a poor performance on special teams, five sacks given up and playing 30 fewer plays than the Chippewas did Ohio in. Make no mistake though, the Bobcats are still a contender in the MAC East. Their game against Akron this week should allow the Bobcats to figure itself out before heading into the grind of their schedule.
Kent State (↑ 2)
A close battle with Eastern Michigan gave the Golden Flashes their first win of the season and their fifth straight win since the 2019 season.
Kent State played a solid game, but penalties were the biggest problem. The Golden Flashes finished the game with nine penalties worth 78 yards. The Golden Flashes need to prevent penalties from overtaking them, as it could cost them more than field position in the future.
The Golden Flashes enter division play in their match up with Bowling Green on Tuesday night.
Ball State (↓2)
Once again, Ball State has shown the disparity between its offensive power and its struggling defense. Redshirt senior quarterback Drew Plitt led a Cardinals offense that netted 478 total offensive yards and four touchdowns and still lost 38-31 to Miami.
The Cardinals held the 14-10 lead by halftime. The defense simply needed to hold the RedHawks while Plitt and the offense continued tearing up the field. Instead, Miami’s backup quarterback AJ Mayer managed to throw for 212 yards and three touchdowns after starter Brett Gabbert was injured. A last-second touchdown run by Miami cost the Cardinals a game they should have had.
Eastern Michigan (--)
A loss to Kent State showed EMU’s potential. The Eagles were able to hang with a strong Kent State team and put together a solid passing effort.
EMU quarterback Preston Hutchinson threw for 241 yards with two touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions. Establishing a run game will be important moving forward. The Eagles’ leading rusher was Darius Boone with 68 yards, but the only rushing touchdown came from Hutchinson in the third quarter. A better rushing performance out of the running backs would take some of the workload and pressure off of Hutchinson.
This week, the Eagles will face Ball State who is coming off a loss in the “Redbird Rivalry” against Miami.
Northern Illinois (↑ 1)
There aren’t many positives to take away from NIU’s loss to Buffalo, other than the fact that there is another week ahead.
The Huskies’ 49-30 loss isn’t bad because of the score, but because of how it happened. NIU had a chance to win the game, but three fumbles in the third quarter — two of which were returned for touchdowns. Add a pick-six on top of that and you have the final score. While NIU played somewhat of a good game defensively, the offensive woes were just too much.
The Huskies will have to take better care of the ball, or they’ll get the same result against a good defense in Central Michigan this week.
Bowling Green (↓1)
In the midst of a coach beginning his second season and a new quarterback, 2020 will likely be another struggle for the Falcons. It’s hard to put a positive spin on a 38-3 blowout against Toledo to begin the season.
Redshirt junior quarterback Matt McDonald did his best for the Falcons, throwing for 128 yards. However, he went only 8-for-30 and was intercepted twice. The rushing did marginally better, pushing out 139 yards on 32 carries, but still couldn’t reach the endzone.
The Falcons’ defense gave up 524 total yards to Toledo in week one. Their next opponent will be Kent State, who will be coming off a win against Eastern Michigan. If the Falcons don’t find a rhythm fast, 2020 may be a tougher storm to ride out than they can handle.
Akron ( --)
From an onside kick on the first play to a solid performance for redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Gibson (18/30, 125 yards, one touchdown), Akron did all it could to be competitive with Western Michigan. Unfortunately for the Zips, it wasn’t enough.
Not even close to enough.
Akron got blown out by the Broncos 58-13 and didn’t score a point in the second half. 2020 is most likely going to be another frustrating affair for second-year coach Tom Arth. The Zips travel to face an Ohio team hungry for a win this week and if the defense doesn’t improve fast, Akron could be staring down the barrel of another blowout loss.