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Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke (#7) runs the ball during the Bobcats' game against Syracuse on Saturday, Sep. 4, 2021.

Football: Evaluating the Mid-American Conference's standout Week 3 performances

Week 3 of Mid-American Conference football saw slightly more success than Week 2. Teams in the conference picked up a collective five wins compared to the previous week’s three, although all but two programs still hold a losing record.  

Three MAC teams went against AP Top 25 ranked programs. Although all three lost, Buffalo managed to stay competitive with No. 16 Coastal Carolina in a 28-25 loss.  

Other programs picked up their first wins of the season. Miami stomped Long Island 42-7, and Bowling Green beat Murray State 27-10 for its first win since 2019.  

Here are the top performances from around the MAC in Week 3 and what they mean for Ohio:  

Standout team performance: Western Michigan defeats Pitt 44-41 

Four MAC teams took on Power 5 programs in Week 3, but Western Michigan was the lone victor when it defeated Pitt on Saturday. The win makes the Broncos just one of two MAC teams with a winning record heading into the final week of nonconference play.  Even though it played an undefeated Power 5 team, Western Michigan scored a season-high 44 points.

Quarterback Kaleb Eleby threw for 337 yards, three touchdowns and didn’t log a single interception. Combined with 20 passing yards from Jack Salopek and 160 team rushing yards, Western Michigan finished with 517 total yards compared to Pitt’s 490. Two Broncos — Corey Crooms and Skyy Moore — finished Saturday with over 100 receiving yards. 

Allowing 415 passing yards from Pitt kept the game too close for comfort, but Western Michigan made up for that on the ground. It held Pitt to just 75 total rushing yards. Linebacker Zaire Barnes led the Broncos with 10 tackles and recovered two fumbles.  

Standout individual performance: DJ Irons, quarterback, Akron 

Irons led the Zips to a 35-14 victory over Bryant on Saturday using both his arm and his legs.  

Irons’ passing numbers increased exponentially against Bryant, which was Akron’s only Football Championship Subdivision opponent this season. The redshirt sophomore went 19-for-23 with 296 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, Irons had his second consecutive 100-yard game, finishing with 136 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries.  

Irons doesn’t get as many passing opportunities as other quarterbacks in the MAC. However, he’s the most accurate when given the opportunity. He’s one of two quarterbacks in the conference with a completion percentage over 70%, alongside Bowling Green’s Matt McDonald.  

What this means for Ohio: 

There is both good news and bad news for the Bobcats.  

Ohio is the lone team in the MAC without a win. However, all but two programs have losing records thus far. Ohio’s final nonconference opponent, Northwestern, is a Power 5 team in the midst of sorting itself out. Going against a talented but flawed team like the Wildcats is good preparation for the Bobcats ahead of conference play.  

As for Irons, Akron will be Ohio’s first conference opponent. Both will be coming off games against Big Ten opponents — Akron plays Ohio State on Saturday — and should show improvement after having each played two Power 5 teams this season.  

Ohio should also be prepared to take on a dual-threat quarterback like Irons. The last dual-threat quarterback Ohio faced was Levi Lewis of Louisiana. Lewis managed to run circles around Ohio and threw for over 200 yards. If Ohio takes a page from its loss to Louisiana, it might be able to counter Irons.  


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