Football around the MAC

In the penultimate week of the college football season, the MAC Championship race finally gained clarity as the conference dropped from six potential champions down to three. Northern Illinois secured the MAC West title with its win over Buffalo, and the winner of this week’s Miami-Kent State matchup will join the Huskies in Detroit for the title Dec. 5.

The conference also now has seven bowl-eligible teams for the fourth consecutive season in which league members played 12 games. If Ball State wins its final game against Buffalo, the conference would have eight bowl-eligible squads for the first time ever. Here’s what happened this week in MAC football.

Toledo (6-5, 4-3)

Toledo became bowl eligible Tuesday with its sixth victory defeating Ohio 35-23. Bryant Koback led the way for the Rockets rushing for 203 yards and four touchdowns. Koback scored twice in the second quarter, once in the third on a 55-yard run untouched and secured his fourth touchdown in the final quarter. Dequan Finn completed 10 of 14 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown. The Rockets led 35-9 early in the fourth quarter. The Bobcats scored a few late touchdowns to cut the deficit to 12 but the Rockets’ lead was too large to overcome. Toledo concludes the regular season at home against Akron Saturday at noon on ESPN+.

Miami (OH) (6-5, 5-2)

Miami became bowl eligible Tuesday with its sixth victory defeating Bowling Green 34-7. The RedHawks trailed 7-0 in the first quarter but scored 34 unanswered points. Brett Gabbert threw for 227 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Gabbert’s two touchdowns both went for long yardage. He connected with Mac Hippenhammer for a 63-yard touchdown in the second quarter and with Jack Sorenson for an 83-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half. Miami concludes the regular season at Kent State Saturday at noon on ESPN+. The winner will be champion of the MAC East and advance to the MAC Championship Game.

Ball State (5-6, 3-4)

The Ball State Cardinals suffered a loss at the hands of the Central Michigan Chippewas Wednesday, 37-17. The Cardinals kept pace throughout the first quarter, but began to slip in the second and ultimately the team was held scoreless in the second half. Quarterback Drew Plitt had one of his least impressive performances of the season, completing 21 of 39 passes for 170 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Carsten Steele continued to impress, as he led the ground game with 93 yards on 20 carries including a touchdown. Wide receiver Jayshon Jackson had six receptions for 63 yards, while Jaylin Thomas and Clayton Cole cleaned up on defense, each snagging a pick. BSU will take the field next against Buffalo to finish off its season Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will air on ESPN+ as the Cardinals look for bowl eligibility.

Kent State (6-5, 5-2)

The Kent State Golden Flashes obliterated the Akron Zips Saturday, shutting Akron out 38-0. The Flashes scored 22 points in the second quarter and coasted on offense after that to easily secure the win, heavily utilizing the ground game. Quarterback Dustin Crum completed 8 of 13 passes for 55 yards, adding 114 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. The ground was taken over by running backs Marquez Cooper and Bryan Bradford, who combined with Crum to rush for 315 yards and four touchdowns. The defense allowed just 188 total yards and forced two fumbles in the victory. Kent State hits the gridiron for the season finale against Miami (OH) at noon Saturday on ESPN+ with the winner going to the MAC Championship Game.

Central Michigan (7-4, 5-2)

Central Michigan had its way against Ball State Wednesday, winning 37-17 to earn its third win in a row. The second through fourth quarters were all dominated by CMU and were a big part in the win as the Chippewas outscored Ball State 30-10 in the final three quarters of the game. It was another week, another masterful performance by Lew Nichols III. Nichols finished with 219 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Nichols now has 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground, both of which lead the Mid-American Conference. CMU will look to finish the regular season on a four-game winning streak facing Eastern Michigan at home Friday at noon. The game will air on ESPNU.

Bowling Green (3-8, 1-6)

Bowling Green had no answer for Miami (OH) Tuesday, being defeated 34-7. Bowling Green was leading 7-6 after the first quarter, but was outscored 28-0 in the final three to easily be defeated by the RedHawks. Quarterback Matt McDonald had another poor showing, only throwing for 108 yards and zero touchdown passes on 13-28 passing. The freshman running back duo of Nick Mosley and Terion Stewart had a good game despite defeat, rushing for a combined 165 yards and a 62-yard touchdown by Stewart. Bowling Green will look to finish its season with a win with a home matchup against Ohio Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for noon on CBS Sports Network.

Akron (2-9, 1-6)

The most exciting storyline left for Akron this season is the search for its next head coach, and that was apparent in Saturday’s 38-0 home loss to Kent State. The Zips have a young roster, but it was still a crushing way to send out a senior class, especially as any fifth-year players remember a MAC Championship Game berth and a bowl bid in 2017. The Akron offense produced less than 200 yards, and the defense had no turnovers and no sacks. The best drive Akron could muster ended in a missed field goal by Cory Smigel, who is now 7-11 on the year in field goal attempts. Akron closes out the season at Toledo Saturday at noon on ESPN+.

 

Western Michigan (6-5, 3-4)

The Broncos were finally officially removed from MAC title contention after hanging by a thread for a few weeks with a 22-21 loss to Eastern Michigan Tuesday. WMU gained 485 yards of total offense and managed just three scoring drives in the loss. Skyy Moore had a huge game, making career highs in catches and receiving yards with 12 and 181, adding a touchdown as he became the first WMU receiver with over 1,000 yards since Corey Davis in 2016. Two late turnovers and allowing six consecutive scoring drives for the Eagles ultimately doomed WMU in Ypsilanti. The Broncos have another road contest to close out the year, heading to Northern Illinois as the Huskies have already secured the MAC West title Tuesday at 7 p.m. That game will air on ESPNU.

Buffalo (4-7, 2-5)

This year hasn’t been the start that first-year head coach Mo Linguist wanted, but the Bulls can be proud of forcing overtime against a team headed to the MAC Championship Game in Northern Illinois Wednesday. Buffalo ultimately lost 33-27 after Matt Myers fumbled on third and goal on the Bulls’ lone overtime possession, but Myers had a big role to play in getting to overtime with 162 passing yards and a touchdown on 16-23 passing and 43 yards rushing in the contest. Dylan McDuffie had 125 rushing yards and a touchdown while Ron Cook Jr. scored both on the ground and on a reception. James Patterson led the defense with 3.5 tackles for loss, making 11 total stops in the game. Buffalo’s season will conclude Tuesday at Ball State. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.

Eastern Michigan (7-4, 4-3)

Eastern Michigan took down Western Michigan for a Senior Night victory Tuesday, winning 22-21. Kicker Chad Ryland was arguably the biggest star in the game, making all five of his field goal attempts and his only extra-point try. It’s only arguable thanks to the night Jowan Hamilton had, running for 179 yards on 19 carries. With the win, the Eagles maintained a chance to collect eight wins in a season for the first time since 1987, when EMU claimed its only MAC title and only bowl win in program history. To do so in the regular season, Eastern will need to beat the other Michigan directional school, Central Michigan, in Mount Pleasant Friday at noon. Airing on ESPNU, the winner of the matchup will receive the Michigan MAC trophy as both schools beat WMU this year.

Northern Illinois (8-3, 6-1)

NIU won its seventh game this season by one score Wednesday with an overtime victory over Buffalo. Four different players picked up at least 50 rushing yards for the Huskies, led by Trayvon Rudolph with 94 including a 75-yard touchdown run to go along with 80 receiving yards. Rocky Lombardi threw for 197 yards but did not have a touchdown in the contest. After two missed field goals by Northern Illinois including one on the last play of regulation allowed the game to go to overtime, the defense forcing a fumble and Clint Ratkovich scoring a 25-yard touchdown run on the team’s first offensive play won the game for the Huskies. The win clinched a MAC West title and berth in the MAC Championship Game for NIU. The Huskies close out the regular season hosting Western Michigan Tuesday. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. and air on ESPNU.

Ohio (3-8, 3-4)

The Bobcats were trending in the right direction with back-to-back victories before suffering a 12-point loss to Toledo Tuesday on Senior Night. Kurtis Rourke completed 22 of 36 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, and Ohio ran for 192 yards in the game, but losing a fumble and not forcing a turnover and missing a field goal hurt the Bobcats’ effort. Ohio also allowed five sacks and didn’t score a touchdown until the fourth quarter in the loss. The Bobcats close out the regular season at Bowling Green Friday at noon on CBS Sports Network. Win or lose, this will be Ohio’s first season below .500 since 2008, when the Bobcats went 4-8.

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