Good news and bad news for many MAC teams. The good news is Western Michigan’s super-frosh of 2014, Jarvion Franklin, isn’t carrying the ball 40 times a game anymore. The bad news is that WMU has three talented backs to handle the job. Last week’s devastating second half ground pounding of Ohio proved just how effective that trio can be. Combine that with a Zach Terrell at quarterback, and one of the nation’s top receiving combos; you get a team that should be ready for a serious stretch drive. Western moves up in this week’s power rankings. Let’s take a look at the field.
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The Rockets trailed Eastern Michigan after one quarter Saturday, but kicked it into several higher gears on the way to a 63-20 pummeling of the Eagles. Senior QB Phillip Ely was in fine form, throwing for 327 yards and four TDs as UT scored 56 unanswered points. UT’s defense registered 12 TFL and four sacks. With their dominating performance, the Rockets inched up to No. 19/20 in this week’s AP/Coaches polls.
2. Bowling Green (5-2, 3-0 MAC, LW 2)
It’s the third consecutive season BG has started 5-2 overall with a 3-0 MAC mark. Quarterback Matt Johnson completed 25 of 30 passes for 357 yards and five TDs as the Falcons handed Akron its worst loss (59-10) in the series. Bowling Green visits Kent State this week. The Flashes have a nice defense, but …
3. Western Michigan (3-3, 2-0 MAC, LW 4)
The Broncos move up a spot this week after thrashing Ohio, 49-14, Saturday. It was a scoreless game after one period and 14-7 at intermission. WMU had less than 50 yards rushing at that juncture; but it gained a staggering 401 yards via the ground game in the second half. This was against a Bobcat defense that had acquitted itself well for most of the season. It was tough enough to defend both Jarvion Franklin running the ball and Zach Terrell throwing it. Now the Broncos have three quality backs, and they came within a few yards of each gaining over 100 yards against OU.
4. Northern Illinois (4-3, 2-1 MAC, LW 6)
Speaking of rushing, the Huskies did a pretty good job of it last week in a 45-12 win over Miami. NIU totaled 311 yards on the ground. Joel Bouagnon tallied three of the Huskies five rushing TDs. With Eastern Michigan coming in for homecoming, Northern could have another big day.
5. Central Michigan (3-4, 2-1 MAC, LW 5)
The Chippewas blitzed Buffalo Saturday, scoring touchdowns on five of their first six possessions and adding a safety to grab a 37-7 halftime lead. Quarterback Cooper Rush completed 23 of 30 passes and tossed four TDs in the 51-14 win.
6. Ohio (5-2, 2-1 MAC (LW 3)
The Bobcats took a big fall in this week’s rankings. Ohio didn’t just lose, it collapsed in the second half, giving up over 400 yards rushing after intermission. The offense really didn’t have that much to brag about, either. Ohio needs a bounce back win this week, but then so does Buffalo. Both fizzled last Saturday.
7. Akron (3-4, 1-2 MAC, LW 7)
The Zips fell hard, 59-10, at Bowling Green Saturday. Akron gained just 104 yards through the air and totaled 271 yards. UA has the week off, but Central Michigan will provide another big test on Halloween night.
8. Ball State (2-5, 1-2, LW 8)
The Cardinals finished off their non-conference slate with a 31-19 home loss to Georgia State Saturday. It was Ball State’s fourth straight loss. The Chippewas are currently 10th in scoring defense (36.5 ppg). Reducing that number would seem like a good start to getting some wins and moving up the power rankings.
9. Kent State (2-4, 0-2 MAC, LW 10)
The Flashes move up a spot thanks to a very nice defensive effort. Holding UMass down to 10 points might be more impressive than the win itself, but KSU needs all the wins it can get. Freshman George Bollas got his first start for Kent State, completing 20 of 25 for 135 yards with one touchdown. Another freshman, Shane Hynes, hit two field goals, including a 39-yarder into the win for the game-winner.
10. Buffalo (3-4, 2-1 MAC, LW 9)
The Bulls need to win four of six just to reach .500. Both UB and Ohio (this week’s opposition) are coming off embarrassing outings. Home field might give Buffalo the edge, but it might depend on which Ohio defense shows up – last week’s first half or second half “D.”
11. UMass (1-5, 0-2, LW 11)
There must have been quite a bit of head shaking among Minutemen fans during and after last week’s 15-10 loss to Kent State. UMass totaled 257 yards of offense and failed to score any points in three of four quarters. Actually, the Minutemen are ranked 11th in scoring offense (22.7 ppg). That would have been pretty hard to believe coming into this season. Now they get to face the MAC’s No. 1 scoring defense this week. There’s a rumor going around that Toledo can also score some points, as well.
12. Eastern Michigan (1-6, 0-3, LW 12)
What a stretch. Toledo last week, Northern Illinois this week and Western Michigan next week!
Eastern got off to a good start, holding a 6-0 lead against Toledo. Then the dam burst! UT scored 56 straight points on the way to a 63-20 victory.
13. Miami (1-6, 0-3, LW 13)
The RedHawks were blitzed by resurgent Northern Illinois Saturday. As with Eastern, they’re staring down another huge challenge this week. Miami surrendered 311 rushing yards to the Huskies. Now they are facing a team that ran for over 400 yards in the second half Saturday against Ohio. Oh, and WMU also has the MAC’s No. 3 pass offense.
On the plus side, MU threw only one interception last week. That, of course, ended up in the arms of Shawun Lurry, who already led the FBS in interceptions and return yardage.