The MAC Blog: The Stage is Set

Division champions were crowned last week, as both Northern Illinois and Kent State prevailed in matchups against second place divisional foes. The Huskies and Golden Flashes will meet November 30 at Detroit’s Ford Field for the conference title. In the mean time…

Dri Archer looks to have yet another big game vs. Ohio [Lori King/Toledo Blade]

Player of the Week: Kent State RB Dri Archer. They say lightning never strikes the same spot twice. Archer defied the laws of science on Saturday by scoring on two electrifying touchdown runs in Perry Stadium. His first touchdown run, a 79-yard footrace to the end zone, gave the Golden Flashes a 10-0 lead over Bowling Green in the first quarter. His second touchdown…well…there just aren’t words to describe. Just watch. When all was said and done, Archer had totaled 241 on only 17 carries. That’s a yard per carry average of over 14! Without Archer’s performance, Kent State would not be playing for a MAC championship. More on that later.

Goat of the Week: Toledo QB Terrance Owens. With a MAC West title on the line, Owens couldn’t find a way to get the ball in the end zone. Instead, has passed ended up in the arms of Huskie defenders. The junior threw two critical red zone interceptions as the Rockets dropped their second game in a row. A season that looked so promising just a few weeks ago comes to a disappointing end.

Surprise of the Week: Central Michigan’s impressive win over Miami. The surprise wasn’t so much the Chippewas win, but the way they won. Miami threw for nearly twice as many yards, held to ball for over half the game, and converted on more third downs than Central Michigan. They held a statistical advantage in nearly every category except the one that counted: the scoreboard. Central’s Zurlon Tipton ran the ball down the RedHawks throat for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and the defense stepped up when it had to. Taking a bend-but-don’t-break attitude, the Chippewas made two big stops and fourth down and forced two turnovers. A late safety clinced the win for Central, and put them in great position for a bowl berth.

Disappointment of the Week: Ohio’s self-destruction. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Bobcats. A loss to an arch-rival, elimination from the MAC Championship game and an embarrassing loss on senior night are products of crippling injuries and less-than-stellar quarterback play. But last Wednesday’s fourth quarter against Ball State brought the program to its lowest point since the infamous Boo Jackson fight. The Cardinals scored 21 unanswered points in the final stretch of the game to turn a close contest into a laugher. Coach Frank Solich even pulled quarterback Tyler Tettleton, the program leader in touchdown passes and yards, to send the junior a message. And to think that this team had a shot at a BCS Bowl bid a few weeks ago…

The stage is set: Kent State and Northern Illinois punched their tickets to Detroit by clinching the MAC East and West divisions with their impressive week 12 victories. Kent State did it with defense and a dynamic running game, Northern Illinois did it by jumping on the back of phenom quarterback Jordan Lynch. The Golden Flashes have been able to break into the BCS rankings after an impressive upset over Rutgers, the Huskies have been handcuffed by an easy schedule and an early-season loss to a struggling Iowa team. There will be more coverage to come, but I expect a classic for the third straight year.

Fashion Update: Ball State blacked out Ohio with their threads and with their play. It would have looked better with either black helmets or pants, but what can you do. Central Michigan went ketchup and mustard against Miami. And in an ode to Notre Dame’s big week, Toledo broke out their “golden domes” against Northern Illinois.

In case you missed it: Earlier this week, Akron surprised no one by ending its season with a loss against Toledo. But they did manage to keep things interesting. Toledo, playing without quarterback Terrance Owens and running back David Fluellen, found themselves in an early 10-0 hole. But three touchdown passes by Rockets backup Alonzo Russell put Toledo ahead for good. Russell would throw two more touchdown passes in the second half, as the Rocket would win 35-23.

Standings:

What to Watch, Week 13: With the championship game already set, the conference games become irrelevant in the standings. But that doesn’t mean teams have nothing to play for. Central Michigan needs a win over UMass to become bowl eligible. They shouldn’t have much trouble doing that…a hot Ball State team heads into Oxford on a five-game winning streak. Will changes on the offensive line end Miami’s five game losing streak?…Bowling Green may not be headed to Detroit for the MAC Championship, but they will be in Columbus to play Buffalo in the first Division I college football game ever played at Crew Stadium…Northern Illinois needs a victory over Eastern Michigan to gain BCS points and to keep Jordan Lynch’s Heisman campaign alive (#VoteLynch)…Ohio looks to stop the bleeding against Kent State and add credibility to their resume, but with starting defensive lineman Neal Huynh and Carl Jones banged up, expect huge days from both Dri Archer and Trayion Durham.

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