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Ohio's Cam Odom (#3) catches a pass during the Bobcats' match versus Duquesne on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

Football: Evaluating the Mid-American Conference's standout Week 2 performances

Another week of Mid-American Conference football has come and gone. Week 2 provided valuable insight on which programs can contend with powerhouse teams, which ones should be worried going forward and which standout players can lead their teams to victory. 

Three MAC teams faced Associated Press Top 25 ranked teams. Toledo highlighted Week 2 by going toe to toe with then-No. 8 Notre Dame on Saturday before falling 32-29. 

Other teams earned their first wins after disappointing season openers. After Central Michigan and Western Michigan lost to Missouri and Michigan, respectively, both teams shut out Football Championship Subdivision programs. 

Here are the top performances from around the MAC in Week 2 and what they mean for Ohio:

Standout team performance: Kent State defeats Virginia Military Institute 60-10

After a 41-10 thrashing from then-No. 6 Texas A&M in Week 1, Kent State got back on its feet by blowing out VMI. The Golden Flashes earned 698 total yards against the Keydets, the third-most in program history. By comparison, VMI gained 284 total yards.

Marquez Cooper led Kent State’s rushing attack with 119 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Cooper and seven other rushers combined for 494 rushing yards Saturday. 

Despite the offense churning out record numbers, Kent State’s most impressive performance may have come from its defense. Cornerback Montre Miller halted three VMI drives with interceptions in the red zone. Miller is now tied with teammate Elvis Hines for most picks in the MAC — three — thanks to his performance against VMI. 

Standout individual performance: Harrison Waylee, running back, Northern Illinois

Waylee opened the season with 144 rushing yards and one touchdown in Northern Illinois’ win over Georgia Tech. He managed to one-up himself in Week 2 against Wyoming, rushing for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. 

The highlight of Waylee’s performance against Wyoming was a 75-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He followed that up with a 14-yard run into the end zone on the Huskies’ next drive. 

Waylee has led the MAC in rushing two weeks in a row with 323 yards and is tied for the most rushing touchdowns in the conference with three. Even though Northern Illinois lost to Wyoming 50-43, Waylee is an early frontrunner to be a top running back in the MAC this season.

What this means for Ohio

The Bobcats host the Golden Flashes on Oct. 23. Kent State’s Week 2 performance exemplifies Ohio’s needs to halt opposing run games and improve its own offensive production. Kent State averaged eight yards per carry against VMI, and Cooper has cemented himself as one of the top running backs in the MAC. Miller also added himself as a name for Ohio to be on the lookout for. He may not get three red zone interceptions again, but now, his skills as a ball hawk are well documented.

Ohio looked better in both run defense and red zone offense against Duquesne than it did against Syracuse, but Kent State looked dangerous in both aspects. 

The Bobcats don’t face the Huskies this season, but Waylee’s and other top performances in the MAC also represent the dangerous running backs units all over the conference. Ohio will have to not only match the conference with its own rushing attack but also adjust to contain the opposition. 


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