MAC Blog: More than a game

All Eastern Michigan players wore a "#2" decal in memoriam of slain wide receiver Demarius Reed. (Scripps Media)

All Eastern Michigan players wore a “#2” decal in memoriam of slain wide receiver Demarius Reed. (Scripps Media)

It was an emotional weekend in the Mid-American Conference, that’s for sure. Narrow victories helped keep hopes alive for some schools, as Toledo pulled out a double-overtime 45-44 victory over Navy, and Akron managed a 24-17 win over Miami (OH). Kent State was the only MAC school to lose to a non-MAC opponent this weekend, losing 38-21 to Southern Alabama. Meanwhile the power schools kept steady with Northern Illinois taking a 38-17 victory over Central Michigan, Ball State with an identical win over Western Michigan, and Buffalo cruising to victory in a 32-3 rout over Massachusetts. There was one game that really stood out though.

Players of the Week: Eastern Michigan Eagles. They didn’t win on Saturday, but they didn’t need to. Eastern Michigan took the field just 24 hours after learning of the death of junior wide receiver Demarius Reed in what police called an apparent robbery. So on Saturday, the Eagles took the field against the Ohio Bobcats and did what they could. They honored their friend and teammate.

“I know that our football team and our coaching staff really wanted to honor Demarius by giving our best effort, and we wanted to give our best effort for four quarters,” Eastern Michigan coach Ron English said in a recorded statement released by the school. “I thought our team and our coaches really played hard and really worked at it under a really difficult and trying last 24 hours or so.”

As their coach said in the statement, they played hard. They fought with all they could in order to do whatever they could in such a horrible situation. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be a victory on the field to be a moral victory, and that was the case on Saturday.

Possibly the best tribute of all came at the start of the game, after the players carried Reed’s jersey out with them, Tyler Allen returned the opening kickoff for a 90 yard touchdown. It was the first return touchdown that Eastern Michigan has scored since Reed did it on a punt return in 2011.

Goat of the Week: Kent State Golden Flashes. On a lighter note, it’s amazing to see how the mighty have fallen. Kent State was in the MAC Championship game last season and looked like they were primed to be a contender for the next few years. Then the seniors graduated and their head coach left for Purdue, and this season they look like they’ll be lucky to even make bowl eligibility. They lost to Southern Alabama this weekend in their first year in the FBS. It can only get better from here though, right?

Game of the Week: Navy at Toledo. Considering how this weekend could have gone, it’s great to see some excitement get into the MAC. These two teams were trading blows the entire time, and took it all the way to double overtime. In fact, it all came down to a missed extra point on the Navy touchdown in the second overtime. Toledo had a great rushing attack and managed to finally take away a victory in front of their home fans.

Standings:

MAC Standings Week 8

Game to Watch: Toledo at Bowling Green. This weekend will see a lot of top schools face the bottom feeders of the MAC, but there’s one game that could turn into a shootout if things fall right. Toledo was able to score 45 on Navy, and narrowly escape with a victory. Now they take on a 5-2 Bowling Green team coming off a bye week. They’re going to be aggressive and it’s going to make for some great entertainment.

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