The 2021 season is halfway over, and both Mid-American Conference divisions are still up for grabs after many teams have experienced unpredictable and inconsistent performances through six weeks.
Week 6 saw a handful of programs pick up their first MAC wins of the season, like Akron and Eastern Michigan. Others, such as Miami and Toledo, lost a conference game for the first time this year. All but four MAC teams have started conference play 1-1, evening things out for everyone except 2-0 Northern Illinois and Kent State as well as 0-2 Buffalo and Bowling Green.
Here are the top performances from around the MAC in Week 6 and what they mean for Ohio:
Standout team performance: Ball State defeats Western Michigan 45-20
Ball State didn’t just have the largest margin of victory in the MAC in Week 6. It also did so over Western Michigan, one of the conference’s most threatening teams heading into Saturday. The Broncos were 4-1 overall heading into last week and made a name for themselves after taking down Pitt 44-41 in September. In Week 6, the Cardinals proved themselves to be capable of standing up to dangerous conference opposition.
Quarterback Drew Plitt led Ball State’s offense, going 15-for-25 on passing with 310 yards and four touchdowns. His top receivers were Yo’Heinz Tyler, Jalen McGaughy, Jayshon Jackson and Justin Hall. Tyler led the Cardinals with 93 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
While allowing 376 yards from Western Michigan isn’t great, Ball State’s defense made good plays throughout the afternoon. The Cardinals sacked Broncos quarterback Kaleb Eleby four times and intercepted him twice. Safeties Bryce Cosby and J.T. Wahee led Ball State in tackles with 10 and nine respectively, and both had a tackle for a loss. Cosby also recorded a sack and forced a fumble.
Standout individual performance: Dustin Crum, quarterback, Kent State
After passing for 300 yards or more only once this season prior to Saturday, Crum had a standout night against Buffalo. The quarterback threw for a career-high 407 yards against the Bulls with three touchdowns on 22-of-36 attempts. He also found the end zone twice while on the run to add to his touchdown total.
Crum’s 407 passing yards against Buffalo make up 31% of his season total of 1303 yards through six games. He’s third in the MAC this season for passing yardage and has led Kent State to a 2-0 start in conference play.
What this means for Ohio
Even if it has the worst overall record in the MAC, Ohio is still 1-1 in its conference schedule. It’s had a steady conference schedule thus far, defeating Akron after a dominant second half from its run game and staying on the heels of a proficient Central Michigan team the week after. Only one MAC East team, Kent State, remains undefeated in the MAC.
Buffalo, which allowed over 400 passing yards in Week 6, is set to host Ohio on Saturday. The Bulls are currently ranked 10th in the MAC for passing yards allowed per game and are sixth for rushing yards allowed per game. Ohio coach Tim Albin mentioned in his Monday press conference that Ohio needs to keep Buffalo’s defense off balance through an effective passing game, so quarterbacks Armani Rogers and Kurtis Rourke could both see big days in the air Saturday.
As for Crum, Kent State comes to Athens on Oct. 23, one week after Ohio plays Buffalo. The Bobcats pass defense has been durable this season, ranking third in the MAC for passing yards allowed per game. They did blunder against the Chippewas, however, when they allowed 257 yards and a game-winning touchdown pass from Daniel Richardson even after picking up two interceptions. Against Crum and the Golden Flashes, the Bobcats secondary will have to hold strong for four quarters.