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Looking Back - Week Five

Updated: Oct 11, 2022

Sometimes you just have to go and experience games as a fan, and this weekend that is exactly what we did. It was homecoming at Toledo, and what a homecoming it was. (A huge shout out to the Midnight Blue and Gold Launchpad Podcast for having us on the show). We had a great time, but now that the stadium lights are off, the fans have gone home and the victory dances are over, it's time to look back with a brief recap and see what is next for each program.

Akron vs BGSU:

This matchup featured two teams who have been two of the worst in the MAC in the last few years. Both teams were looking to start conference play 1-0, and the fans at InfoCision Stadium were treated to a fantastic game. This was a must-win for both squads, with Bowling Green taking home the win 31-28, thanks to three touchdown passes from Matt McDonald. The Falcons would then jump out to a 24-14 lead and never look back, despite the Zips best efforts to keep it close. The Jay Burton pick-six for BGSU was the difference in this game, a 29-yard return to give the Falcons a 10-0 lead. No moral victories exist in college football, but the silver lining for Akron? DJ Irons looked sharp, with three scores and 225 passing yards, while Clyde Price did some great work on the ground with 71 yards on 17 carries. Bowling Green plays host to Buffalo next week, who comes off an impressive win against pre-season East Division favorite Miami. Akron travels to Athens to take on Ohio, who are licking their wounds after an OT loss to Kent State on Saturday.

Ball State vs NIU: The Battle for the Bronze Stalk has been a one-score game since 2018, and this year proved to be no different. After a field goal loss to NIU last year, the Ball State faithful were not shy to express their frustration and frankly, their anger at the celebration by Kicker John Richardson storming the Ball State sideline hunting for the trophy. Early on, even without star quarterback Rocky Lombardi, it looked as if Northern Illinois would run Ball State out of their own stadium, taking a 24-7 lead at the break and all the momentum in the world. Ball State came charging out of the locker room to outscore the Huskies 31-14 to force overtime thanks to John Paddock and his 403 passing yards. The hero of the night? Carson Steele, the Ball State running back with the go-ahead touchdown, a one-yard run to give the Cardinals the lead and the win in double OT. NIU had a monster day on the ground, with 57 carries for 337 yards. The Huskies are still hoping to get Lombardi back this season, and while Ethan Hampton is doing a serviceable job, it's clear the offense is missing their starting quarterback. Northern Illinois entertains Toledo next weekend, who is coming off a 21-point win over Central Michigan at home. Ball State hits the road and travels to Mount Pleasant to take on the same CMU team recovering from a big-time road loss to Toledo.

Buffalo vs Miami (OH):

Another week, another opponent Buffalo would face who is fresh off a victory over a Power Five opponent. This time, the Bulls get to play host to that team, the Miami RedHawks. Both programs came in riding high, Buffalo hanging 50 on Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti, and Miami with a fantastic defensive effort in a win over Big Ten foe Northwestern. There has been some question about Mo Linquist's ability to lead this Buffalo team, criticism that is fair and valid after the loss to Holy Cross, and an 0-3 start. Miami, the second team on the list to be playing without their starting quarterback, looked to build momentum as the heavy favorite, not only in the matchup but also the pre-season favorite in the MAC East. It seems as if someone forgot to mention that to Buffalo. The Bulls took a 14-10 lead into the break, converted two key fourth down attempts, and a huge 15-yard touchdown from Cole Snyder to Justin Marshall sealed the deal for the visitors. Buffalo wasn’t flashy in this game, but they were effective, doing exactly what they needed to do to move to 2-0 in MAC play Miami, likely experiencing a bit of a hangover from their win at Ryan Field, should be fine. 0-1 in the conference isn’t ideal but Aveon Smith is coming along nicely in the absence of Brett Gabbert. Buffalo looks to exact revenge on Bowling Green next week at Doyt Perry Stadium while Miami welcomes Kent State to Oxford, after their 31-24 win over Ohio this past weekend.

Central Michigan at Toledo:

Both programs come off of losses, vastly different losses. Toledo, rebounding from a west coast loss to San Diego State, while CMU returns to the midwest after a 33-14 loss to Penn State. With their out-of-conference slates finally completed, these teams turn their attention to the long road to Detroit, and the critical game one of the MAC schedule. After a low-scoring, field goal affair in quarter one, Toledo blew the doors off the hinges and rattled off four touchdowns to take a commanding 31-3 lead into the locker room. The Chippewas would make things seem interesting after two blocked punts in the second half, but the Rockets defense forced a key fumble and put the final nail in the coffin, a Thomas Zsiros fumble recovery in the endzone to swell the lead to 21. Daniel Richardson may have outthrown Dequann Finn, but it was the running backs who told the tale of the day. Toledo had yet to see one of their tailbacks take control of the backfield, but Jacquez Stuart made a case for himself, 16 carries for 122 and a score. On the other side, the 2021 national leading rusher Lew Nichols was held firmly in check by a strong Toledo defense, limiting his 18 carries to just 32 yards. Next week Toledo travels to DeKalb to take on NIU, while Central Michigan entertains Ball State.

Eastern Michigan vs UMass: This was supposed to be a gimme win for the Eagles but the Minutemen, playing their second MAC squad in three weeks, came into Rynearson hoping to deliver the home team their second consecutive loss. The Eagles' defense surrendered a first-quarter touchdown and a second-quarter field goal, while the offense struggled to get anything going until halfway through the third quarter, an 8-yard touchdown to Darius Lassiter from Austin Smith. From there, it was all EMU, shutting out UMass the rest of the way. Mark Lee snagged a key interception to save the day for the Eagles on Homecoming, allowing the stands to fill with victory cheers instead of mourns of defeat. Samson Evans eventually returned to form, with 16 carries for 122, and Austin Smith overcame two interceptions by throwing two touchdowns in the second half. EMU is looking to secure their first MAC victory this weekend in the first of the three games for the Michigan MAC Trophy, as they head to Kalamazoo. UMass will host Liberty and look to improve to 2-4 on the year.

Kent State vs Ohio:

After easily the hardest nonconference schedule of the MAC, Kent State got to take their first crack at a MAC opponent. Welcoming the Ohio Bobcats to Kent, anyone watching knew this would be a special matchup. In a 3-point game at the break, the defenses were “bend, don't break”, so while it wasn't a high-scoring affair, there were well over 1000 yards between the two schools and some special moments for some home team players. Dante Cephas broke records with his receiving yards, 246 of them as he usurped Eugene Baker for the top spot, a record that has stood since 1996. Marquez Cooper added his name to the Kent State record book as well, turning in the sixth-best rushing performance in school history, one yard shy of Dri Archer with 240 on 40 carries. That's right, FORTY. CARRIES. Not to be outdone, Collin Schlee had a record day of his own, slotting at fifth all-time for single-game passing performance passing the legendary Josh Cribbs with 398, sitting 9 yards behind his predecessor, Dustin Crum. Ohio had some fantastic performances as well, with Sam Wiglusz having a career day, 115 receiving yards, and a score, as Kurtis Rourke chucked the ball for 322 yards on the day. After a tied game at the end of regulation, thanks to a Collin Schlee rushing touchdown in the final two minutes, the cherry on top of the magical performances from the Kent State offense was the overtime win to move to 1-0 in MAC play. The Golden Flashes look to stay unbeaten in MAC play where they travel to Miami (OH), while Ohio looks to rebound at home against Akron.

Western Michigan vs New Hampshire:

Western Michigan needed a rebound game after their lackluster performance out west against San Jose State last weekend. After a false start set the Broncos up at their own 25, it took just one play for Western to establish that this was their game, a 75-yard touchdown pass from Jack Salopek to Corey Crooms, and Western Michigan was off to the races. The Broncos' first three drives resulted in touchdowns as they imposed their will against the Wildcats. A 28-7 lead at the midway point was as close as New Hampshire would get, as Western Michigan would dominate the second half with a defensive shutout and tacking on 16 more. A closer look at the box score indicates that the Broncos scored at will, with just two drives with more than four plays, and just one drive lasting longer than three minutes. After a shaky couple of weeks and back-to-back losses, Jack Salopek had a game that restored his confidence ahead of resuming MAC play. In one of his best performances of the season, he silenced his doubters and their concerns with three scores and over 250 yards through the air. The Broncos resume conference play against Eastern Michigan at Waldo Stadium, while New Hampshire looks to improve to 4-0 in FCS conference CAA as they host Stony Brook.



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