MAC conference play is finally getting started, and while it’s early, we can already see who will be contenders and who will be waiting until next year. With all the excitement leading in to conference play, the teams did all they could to try and build momentum this week.
Offensive Player of the Week: Bowling Green’s entire offense. Starting quarterback Matt Johnson went 19 for 22 for 224 yards and two touchdowns against Murray State, managing a 97.4 QBR according to ESPN. QBR, by the way, is out of 100, meaning he was near perfect. He was one of three quarterbacks to complete passes for the Falcons on Saturday, each having over 10 yards per attempt. The running game was what stole the show though, with four different players, including Johnson, running for a touchdown and only one player with under 5.9 yards per carry. It was all led by Travis Greene with 17 carries for 133 yards. In total, the offense produced 660 yards.
Defensive Player of the Week: Dylan Farrington, Kent State. He may have been up against a freshman quarterback in Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, but it was still a great one. Farrington helped to lead a defense that rattled the young gunslinger and forced him into his worst start of his young career. Farrington walked away with an interception, two pass deflections, and eight tackles.
Goat of the Week: Northern Illinois defense. I understand that Eastern Illinois isn’t exactly a pushover, having beaten San Diego State in their first game 40-19, but still this game was too close for comfort. The Huskies defense allowed 577 yards from the FCS school, and six passing touchdowns. They may have managed two big takeaways, but that doesn’t help the players who messed up. You can be sure the defensive coordinator, Jay Niemann, is going to be angry about this one.
Game of the Week: Eastern Illinois @ Northern Illinois. While this was terrible for the Huskies defense, it was an incredible game for viewers. It had all the elements of an exciting match-up, with the Huskies having to come back from a 20-0 deficit in the first quarter, then giving back the lead on another big comeback for Eastern Illinois. Finally, with just over eight minutes left, the Huskies scored the final touchdown to win the game 43-39. It was a game full of hold-your-breath excitement.
Games to Watch Next Week: Northern Illinois at Purdue. While there’s three conference games going on, none really jump off the page. In this case, we’re going to see the incredible Jordan Lynch lead the Huskies and their weak defense against a Purdue team that took Notre Dame to the brink two weeks ago before being dismantled by Wisconsin. The other intriguing storyline here, it’s partially the rematch of the MAC Championship last season. Darrell Hazell went to Purdue in the offseason, but last year used a less talented Kent State squad, which is 1-3 this season, to a top-25 ranking and double-overtime against Northern Illinois. This could be a shootout or a down to the wire finish, but either way it’s going to be exciting.