Tag Archives: Central Michigan Chippewas

College Football Shames Schools With Directional Names

What’s in a name? Sometimes, it’s mostly the name that sells the perception. The name of the state is good, and in most cases, it’s still good when you throw a “State” suffix on the end. In the cases of Alabama and Ohio State, adding or dropping the “State” can mean a serious downgrade to the caliber of football we’re talking about. For the most part, State Name U and State Name State give the book a decent cover, if you’re prepared to judge it that way.

Cities are a good bet too, especially if that city is Houston, or perhaps one of the three cities in the ACC that host schools that occupy a spot in this week’s Top 10.  However, there are a few types of school names that create a seed of doubt.  If the word “directional” can be used to describe your favorite university’s title, it automatically means bad news for that school’s football program.

For example, with a win over the San Diego State, the University of South Alabama (USA) picked up their second name-brand win of the season on Saturday. They had previously shocked the College Football world in Week 1, upsetting a school with that Southeastern Conference pedigree, at Mississippi State.

Why is it so shocking, though? South, West, East, and North are great for navigation, but serve as a poor verbiage for the name of a power house.

Southern California Gets Away With Being Directional

Maybe it’s just that it’s easier to use three letters, because University of Southern California is such a mouthful, but you never think of USC as directional California. I guess, at 2-3, there isn’t too much reason to spend time thinking about the Trojans in 2016.

The Battle of Directional Michigan

With all respect due the team that plays on the grey turf in Ypsilanti, the directional Michigan schools did battle in Mount Pleasant on Saturday.

Central Michigan, you might recall, stole that win in Stillwater over Oklahoma State, and hosted Western Michigan on Saturday. PJ Fleck’s Western Michigan Broncos came away with the 49-10 road win, improving to 5-0 on the year, building on their Group of Five résumé, which already included wins over Northwestern and Illinois. You may not care about about “a couple of directionals”, but at least one of the coaches involved does.

“I would rather go through eight weeks of chemotherapy radiation again then lose to that team the way we lost tonight. That’s the truth to how I feel.”

-CMU Head Coach/Cancer Survivor John Bonamego

Not Just a Name, But Some Person’s Actual Name

When James Madison upset Virginia Tech in 2014, it was brought to my attention that it’s bad to lose to a school named after a person. You’ll only find first and last names in the FCS ranks and below, but the FBS features strong academic institutions named after Cornelius Vanderbilt, Washington Duke, and R.E.B Baylor.

By their full names, the schools would sound worse than they already are. If Stephen F. Austin was just Austin, I’d respect their name a lot more. It’s just good that Leland Stanford didn’t live to see what happened to the Cardinal in Seattle on Friday.

[Name of City] State Universities Are So Mountain West

You hear about these a lot more in basketball than football. If you think your team is a contender and they’re playing Something State, but the “Something” isn’t the name of the state, your team better win. Four such teams play in the Mountain West.

Before the hiccup at South Alabama, the San Diego State was rolling. At 3-1, with a win over Cal, look for the Aztecs to contend in the Mountain West.

Boise State is the only team in this group that occupies a prestigious spot in the Top 25. They started their Mountain West schedule with a win over Utah State this weekend, and they have two wins over Pac-12 competition in their back pocket. Neither Fresno State, nor San Jose State, have a win over an FBS opponent yet.

The MAC is Directional (So Is the SEC, But Shut Up)

Bowling Green doesn’t use their “State” often, but they’re in the previous group. Having been outscored 249-86 on the year, the Falcons don’t look like promising favorites to return to the MAC Championship for a fourth straight year. Quite frankly, neither does Northern Illinois, who went to Muncie with an 0-4 non-league record.

Ball State, named after the Ball family, fit in the “named after a person” category, as well as the “Not The State…State”.  It’s no wonder they gave Directional Illinois their first win of the season.

The Ampersand, Agriculture, and Mechanical

It’s not like we don’t respect institutions that specialize in Agriculture and Mechanical. Believe me, we do, but it has to be in Texas. We’re not digging the ampersand that comes with their A&M counterparts in Alabama and Florida. As for the Aggies, if they’re truly the SEC West darkhorse we need, they ought to be the ones to expose Tennessee next Saturday, despite the horseshoe Butch Jones’ proctologist has probably been warning him about.

E-mail Jeff at jeff [dot] rich [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter, @byjeffrich
Photo Credit: Gregory Vamum via Wiki

Michigan’s Western-Central Rivalry and Getting Together to Have Fun

Michigan’s second biggest in-state rivalry (depending on who you ask) takes place this Saturday night when the Western Michigan Broncos visit the Central Michigan Chippewas in beautiful Mount Pleasant, Michigan.  Every so often this matchup makes for a good game.  This weekend is officially every so often.  In fact, this will be a great game.

Anyone outside of The Mitten probably doesn’t know much about WMU and CMU.  Let me shed just a tiny glimmer of light on them for you.

The Broncos and the Chippewas are a combined 7-1 this fall.  Each of them have disposed of two inferior opponents at home and gone on the road twice to face Power 5 programs.  Western has beaten Northwestern and Illinois, while Central has upset then-ranked #22 Oklahoma State and fallen short against Virginia.  These two MAC West squads are for real.

No matter the quality of the contest on the field, this rivalry is always guaranteed to produce a sizable gathering and a noticeable party atmosphere.  People forget, ignore and deny it, but these are the real party schools in the state of Michigan.  You have to be more creative when you’re not in a true college town like Ann Arbor or East Lansing.  And, since Eastern Michigan is rather anemic in the football department and Northern Michigan is all the way up in the Upper Peninsula without a team, Western and Central are left to battle for directional school supremacy.

I won’t hyperbolize, but the fact that Mount Pleasant features a Native American casino, which anyone over the age of 18 can legally get into, most certainly comes into the decision-making process of prospective Central students.  Meanwhile, Western is known to some, affectionately or not, as ‘Wastern.’  If it takes more than one visit to figure out why, you’re doing it wrong.

Anyway, as MLive’s Mark Tower reports, the police are getting ready for the ‘influx of partiers’ that will flood the streets of Mt. Pleasant this weekend.  Unfortunately, that’s become a totally natural reaction for law enforcement officials to have.  I’m willing to bet there is at least one alcohol-related incident at just about every major sporting event in this country.

Despicably, this is what our nation has become.  When we get together in large enough groups, some of us get too drunk and end up ruining everyone else’s fun.  I say ‘us’ because we’ve all been that guy or gal a time or two.

I was pleasantly (see what I did there?) surprised to see a friend of mine quoted in Tower’s story.  P.J. Lemanski, press secretary for the CMU Student Government Association, and a former Little League teammate of mine, talked about what the Western-Central weekend means to him.

“It’s just about us getting together and having fun,” he said, in reference to his tradition of hanging out with his friends who attend Western.  “It’s never gotten too serious between us.”

I can’t tell you how refreshing this was for me to read.  Too often we hear about what’s wrong and what’s bad about something.  My old buddy P.J. so efficiently summed up the reason why we play, watch, and experience sports and everything that surrounds it.

This is all supposed to be fun.  We forget that.  We get all wrapped up in proving that the team we associate with is better than the one our friend, neighbor, or mortal enemy supports.  We let it control us and we don’t keep it in check well enough.

Why so serious?  If you’re not having fun experiencing sports, then like having to go to Kzoo a second time to figure out the party scene, you’re doing it wrong.

As a somewhat recent graduate who’s still adjusting to a world that’s gotten serious all of a sudden, this was a healthy reminder for me to take a deep breath and enjoy.

Because P.J. said it best.  “It’s just about us getting together and having fun.”

E-mail Mitch at [email protected] and follow him @GreatGatzke.

Photo: Wikipedia

Comment on this and every article by becoming a Campus Pressbox Insider.

The Sweet Breeze of Victory Comes to Charlottesville

Sitting on my front porch Saturday night, enjoying a late night cocktail with my wife and friends after an unexpectedly good football day in Charlottesville and a more reliably great dinner out in Richmond, the weather was still warmer than I’d like and definitely more humid that one might expect in late September. However, every few minutes a breeze would emerge from the stillness with distinctly sweet and cool currents flowing through it that signaled the welcome change in seasons just starting to emerge after an extended bout of classic summer heat and humidity.

I thought this a good metaphor for Virginia’s game on Saturday. If any fan base has been drug through the summer doldrums, it’s Virginia’s. We are weary and we are downtrodden, but we also are acutely aware of a sweet cool current hidden within a hot summer breeze.

Saturday’s game had all the earmarks of “same old ‘Hoos” with Virginia teasing its fans by displaying dominant play on both sides of the ball for a quarter and a half, only to crumble, threatening to stomp on the hearts of the truest of the Virginia faithful once again.

Not many fans decided that Scott Stadium was their best use of time on Saturday, so those who were there were either very excited about their tailgate cuisine and bar lineup, or truly committed to Virginia football. I spoke to a longtime friend in the West Lot who told me that most of his C’ville posse had decided that Scott stadium was the last place they wanted to be on Saturday. He was close to joining them, but in a game day audible, made the decision to be one of the few who stayed true to their ‘Hoos.

He, along with many other fans, was ultimately rewarded for his faith and loyalty with a performance that in many ways embodied the Virginia football experience, yet ended on an unexpectedly happy note. One that many think might be the trending direction of the program.

Virginia made mistakes on Saturday, lots of mistakes. Blown coverages, missed blocking assignments, and a silly penalty that killed a key drive, we’ve seen this story before and we know how it usually ends. However, Virginia was at the same time impressive. Central Michigan was not a random directional school who, like the no-name opponent in a professional wrestling match, showed up to get both walloped and a paycheck. The Chippewas were undefeated with a road win at Oklahoma State on their resume. They had a senior, 4-year starter at quarterback, yet Virginia, for the first 25 minutes of the game, made CMU look like the youth league teams that would play during halftime. It was fun. It was impressive until Mr. Hyde showed up and a 28-0 track meet turned into a 28-28 barn burner.

Many Virginia fans expected the worst when Central Michigan pulled even with the ‘Hoos. Maybe College GameDay’s Kirk Herbstreit was right with his prognostication that Virginia would not win a game this season. But then, a cool breeze blew through Scott Stadium. The boys who are best known for folding the tents when the going gets tough, bucked up and ended the game as impressively as they started it. Three consecutive scoring drives, two of which demonstrated explosive speed and precise execution resulting in 53- and 82-yard touchdown bursts sealed this game for Virginia.

When the offense was good, it was very good. When the defense was effective, it was dominant, forcing multiple consecutive three and outs.

Like the currents of cool breeze that blew through my porch late Saturday night and into early Sunday morning, Virginia playing outstanding football was a welcome relief to a fanbase suffering through a painful coaching transition early in the 2016 season. Are golden days ahead the rest of the way this season? Undoubtedly not. Virginia has some ridiculously challenging games ahead and there is no doubt fans will endure some tough days in the coming months, but fall is coming. Virginia is without question improving. While I am not sure I would bet a dime on Virginia making a bowl game this year, I expect we will see and feel the sweet breeze of victory brush through Scott stadium a couple of more times this season.

If Bronco keeps the improvement rolling in the coming weeks, I might just bet that dime.

E-mail David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @dmrayner.

Photo:

Comment on this and every article by becoming a Campus Pressbox Insider.

Campus Pressbox 59: Mitch and Kristen Review Weak 2

Kristen shares her experience at the Battle at Bristol. Mitch asks if Georgia and Clemson fans should be worried. Is this the win Arkansas needs? Should Central Michigan give back its win over Ok State? Then the pair of them break down the big games this coming weekend.

Topics:

  • Battle at Bristol
  • Georgia and Clemson Struggle
  • Arkansas Beats TCU
  • Central Michigan pops Ok State
  • FSU vs. Louisville
  • Other Big Games this Weekend

Links:

Send us your feedback!

E-mail: [email protected]
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/campuspressbox
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/campuspressbox
Subscribe: http://fourlights.fm/shows/

Sorry Oklahoma State, You Can’t Stop the MACtion

Last Saturday, Mid-American Conference officials took a major step forward in the effort to Make the MAC Great Again by literally handing a game to Central Michigan.

Fantastic play. There’s only one problem: it never should’ve happened. After Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph purposely incurred an intentional grounding penalty as time expired, the game’s MAC officiating crew awarded Central Michigan an untimed down. Although, as they later discovered, that’s not how football works.

This quickly prompted outrage around college football circles, forcing many (including Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder) to ask the unthinkable. Should the result of a college football game be reversed?

I learned a valuable piece of life advice from the movie Ghostbusters. Don’t cross the streams. It may seem tempting to balance the scales and restore justice to Oklahoma State’s promising season, but that would be an awful idea. Here’s four reasons why.

#1: Reversing a Game Opens Pandora’s Box

This is probably the most obvious point, but it’s an important one. If the NCAA or its officials overturn the result of this game, as easy as it may be, that leaves the door open for botched officiating to jeopardize the results of every game from here on out.

Fans may not like to hear it, especially when their team is involved, but the human element is involved in nearly every aspect of football. Your defensive tackle jumps offsides on a 4th and Goal? Whoops. Your quarterback’s helmet pops off before the last play of the game? Sorry. Your headgear malfunctions on the sideline? Tough luck. If any of those things happen over the course of a football game, the onus is on you to overcome them.

An officiating error is no different. If we set a precedent in allowing officiating error to affect the final score of a football game, every single call can now be grounds to delegitimize a team’s victory. Coaches and fan bases gripe enough about penalties already. Imagine if we gave them a reason to claim that they actually won the game if not for those penalties?

It may seem reasonable to excuse this particular instance because of the special circumstances it presents. It was the last play, an untimed down, and a ridiculous Hail Mary. But the truth is, a football game’s first play is no more or less important than its last, and allowing CMU’s last play to distort the equity and fairness of the game is corrupted form.

#2: Oklahoma State Earned the L

Accept it Cowboys fans. You lost to a MAC team. And, even if the world burns and you somehow get your three-point win, you still lost in spirit. There’s no excuse for a ranked Big 12 school to lose to an above average MAC team. There’s no excuse. This just further cements what I’ve been saying for a while now: the Big 12 sucks.

Okay, maybe this is just a matter of personal annoyance, but I adamantly refuse to allow Oklahoma State to use officiating to shield an underperforming team from the criticism it rightfully deserves. Sure it’s a tough loss, but everybody understands the circumstances. Which leads into a surprisingly forgotten point…

#3: We Have This Thing Called the Playoff Committee

Man, if only college football entrusted its evaluation process to actual human beings who could decide on Oklahoma State’s fate beyond their simple win or loss ranking. Wouldn’t that be great?

The argument that Oklahoma State’s loss cripples their championship hopes is ludicrous for two reasons. First, Oklahoma State never had championship hopes. Second, even if they won, members of the Playoff Committee would still be disapproving of the Cowboys’ lackluster performance. Those committee members can decide Oklahoma’s fate as rational human beings if it reaches that point. I’m not holding my breath.

#4: Last but Not Least, the BielemaMeter

Central Michigan’s hard-fought, if fortunate, victory reinforces a halfhearted prediction I didn’t quite make via the BielemaMeter. What’s important is that the MAC reigns once again, and a Power 5 foe joins the ranks of those Bielema’d.

All that matters is that by a MAC miracle of Ben Roethlisberger proportions, CMU claimed its moment in the limelight, and terrible officiating helped to Make the MAC Great Again. Face it Oklahoma State- you just can’t stop the MACtion.

Email Cole at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Cole_Hankins.

Photo courtesy of Reddit – cinciforthewin

Show Out Games Must not be Taken Away

A thought-provoking point was brought to our attention through the Facebook post of a student-athlete at Charleston Southern University, last week.

Saturday, the Charleston Southern football program experienced what it’s like to play against the Florida State Seminoles on Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium in front of 75,831 fans.

Tragically, those Buccaneers were without 14 of their teammates next to them because of CSU’s decision to suspend the players in “violation.”  32 players will serve suspensions, in total.

It’s unfortunate and the NCAA and Charleston Southern should be ashamed of themselves, but our Bob McDonald already covered that for us.  I only bring it up to help make a point.

College is all about having an experience.

Athlete or not, ages 18-21 are reserved for doing dumb (hopefully harmless) things and coming away mostly unscathed, with the best stories possible.

Going into a big-time program’s backyard and expecting to compete, let alone pull out a victory can often be classified as a dumb move.

Still, these games serve many purposes.  Power 5 teams get a “week off,” or so they think.  Small schools that struggle to support all their sports teams get their bills paid.

Best of all, the players on these underdog teams have a chance to show a national TV audience what they can do.

There were so many of these matchups in last Saturday, some dubbed it “Weak 2.”  Instead, it turned out to be quite an exhilarating day of college football.

I love the small school show out games.

Nicholls State took #9 Georgia to the brink “between the hedges,” as if that means anything anymore.  The Colonels out-scored the Dawgs 10-0 in the fourth quarter, time expiring on them still trailing, 26-24.

Controversially or not, Central Michigan upset #22 Oklahoma State, on the road, 30-27.  Look, that’s a rough way to lose a game but when you trail for extended periods and repeatedly fail to put a team away, I don’t have much sympathy.

Wyoming hung around with Nebraska until the Huskers exploded for a 28-point fourth quarter.

Ohio hit the road and thrashed a Power 5 team, even if it was pitiful Kansas.

FCS Illinois State kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired in its game at Northwestern.

Troy gave #2 Clemson much more than it bargained for.  Eventually, the Trojans ran out of gas and lost, 30-24.

Arkansas, though certainly not a small school, was not given much chance by too many at #15 TCU.  This was an absolutely unreal game, by the way.

So, yes, while mandating that Power 5 schools play only each other in early season non-conference games would create more of a buzz similar to what we saw in Week 1, it would also take away most of the David vs. Goliath magic that makes college sports far superior to the professional ranks.

Eliminating cupcake matchups denies student-athletes a unique experience that goes beyond wins and losses.

They’re not sexy, they don’t draw the same audiences, and more times than not they’re effectively over by halftime, but these games have their place.

I love watching guys with something to prove raise their game and have fun while doing it.  I enjoy seeing guys who won’t play on Sundays have career days against teams that never would’ve recruited them.  That doesn’t happen nearly as much if you take away these show out games.

I say, continue to schedule these matchups and enjoy watching smaller schools go up against the bluebloods.  Give these kids who weren’t highly recruited a taste of what it’s like playing top-tier college football.

As we saw in “Weak 2,” there’s a decent chance they’ll take advantage of their opportunity.

Tweet @GreatGatzke or e-mail Mitch at [email protected].

Photo: Wikimedia Commmons

The BielemaMeter: Remember to Respect the #MACtion

When, I find myself tasked with a difficult situation, I simply ask myself: if Bret Bielema were in this situation, what would Bret Bielema do? Then, once I have determined that answer, I proceed to do the exact opposite of that thing.

Why? Because, you see, Bret Bielema is an idiot.

On a highly-classified list of the MAC’s Ten Most Wanted, Bret Bielema clearly ranks Public Enemy #1. And it all goes back to September 9, 2015, when Bret Bielema unfortunately found himself in front of a microphone.

First off, everybody knows criticizing cupcake schedules is a thankless job reserved for stooges like me who write for college sports blogs. For the head coach of an SEC football team? Way out of bounds. Cool your jets, Bret. Bielema’s jab at a clearly better coach and a clearly better program also contained some hidden commentary. Ohio State’s 2015 schedule featured noteworthy bouts against Western Michigan and Northern Illinois- two of the MAC’s strongest programs. Was Bielema suggesting that the Mid-American Conference isn’t worthy?

That’s right, folks. Bret Bielema made a critical error. Bret Bielema didn’t respect the #MACtion.

Bret Bielema also paid the price. Just three days after dismissing the MAC as an inferior conference, Toledo stormed their way into Fayetteville and took Bielema to the cleaners, rocketing the Razorbacks straight back to reality. The takeaway? There is one, simple rule when it comes to non-conference #MACtion:

No one is safe.

With that in mind, let’s analyze all five of the MAC’s opportunities to pull off upsets against AP Top 25 teams early this season. I’ll break down each game and then rank the likelihood of an upset based on a super-duper scientific metric known as the BielemaMeter. Essentially, the more Bielema it sounds, the more Bielema it is; the more Bielema it is, the more likely a Power Five team is about to come crashing down.

Week 1: Miami (OH) at #17 Iowa

Last time the RedHawks faced the Hawkeyes, a young Ben Roethlisberger stood under center, throwing four interceptions in a 21-3 thumping at Kinnick Stadium. The RedHawks won every other game in the 2003 season, chalking up the Iowa game as another exercise in what could’ve been.

There will be no one loss seasons for the RedHawks this time around. Miami is still undergoing a Chuck Martin rebuild, leaving them at least another year away from any legitimate contention against a top echelon squad.

Meanwhile, Iowa returns much of the talent that garnered a Rose Bowl big a season ago. The defense returns eight starters, including Jim Thorpe Award-winner Desmond King. The offense also returns eight starters, including quarterback C.J. Beathard and many vital components to 2015’s vibrant rushing attack. In Week 1, Iowa will basically be starting where they left off. Miami? Not so much. There’s still too much work to do in Oxford.

BielemaMeter: a Rose Bowl victory. You can’t get any less Bret Bielema than a Rose Bowl victory. Iowa shouldn’t have any trouble dispatching the RedHawks, so long as Billy Bahl doesn’t morph into Ben Roethlisberger through some fratty, Miami wizardry.

Week 1: Bowling Green at #6 Ohio State

I won’t lie: I think Bowling Green can keep this game interesting for about a quarter. Then, Ohio State’s firepower takes over. It’ll be intriguing to see how Ohio State copes with the departure of twelve draftees, but it won’t be because Bowling Green displays any ability to expose them.

We’ve seen Ohio State slouch down to non-conference competition in seasons past. Remember when Northern Illinois almost caught the 2015 Buckeyes napping? I suspect, with a younger team now hungry to prove themselves, the 2016 Buckeyes won’t follow suit. Bowling Green needs to string together a load of big plays to mount any chance in countering the speed, size, and skill of this Ohio State team. As confident as I am in picking Bowling Green to carry the MAC East, I don’t see nearly enough experience in this team to warrant any expectation for a competitive game.

BielemaMeter: the state of Wisconsin. Bielema flirted with Wisconsin for a few years before defecting to Arkansas. I expect Ohio State to flirt briefly with losing before sending Bowling Green back to the wrong side of Ohio.

Week 2: Central Michigan at #21 Oklahoma State

These are two teams that everybody is sleeping on. In a questionable Big 12, who’s to say the Cowboys can’t claim the conference? And who’s to say Central Michigan can’t create some mischief in a hotly-contested MAC West?

Oklahoma State opens their season tomorrow against Southeastern Louisiana, which certainly isn’t a very inspired choice. Thus, the Chippewas provide Oklahoma State their season with its first real dose of competition. The same was true last year, when the Chippewas opened their season in Stillwater with a 24-13 defeat.

With offensive weapons like Mason Rudolph, Marcell Ateman, and James Washington, expect Oklahoma State to score many points and throw many passes. Their running game suffered last season, a weakness Central Michigan’s defense might be able to capitalize on. Ultimately, Oklahoma State is going to score a massive amount of points. Either Cooper Rush and Central Michigan reciprocate, or they become just another bullseye in a round of Pistol Pete’s target practice.

BilemaMeter: an SEC championship. Bielema has never won an SEC championship, nor do I ever expect him to. But, if one day every other SEC team vanished out of thin air, there’s at least a slight chance Bielema could win it. Similarly, I don’t expect Central Michigan to beat Oklahoma State, but I’m leaving the window of opportunity cracked slightly open as a member of the Cooper Rush fan club.

Week 3: Ohio at #9 Tennessee

I’m certainly not sold on Butch Jones and the Volunteers this early in the season. After Thursday’s atrocious showing against Appalachian State, nobody is.

Tennessee’s offensive line bordered on disaster last night, which is something they’ll obviously need to correct if they hope to make a run in the SEC. But never mind the SEC, how about the Ohio Bobcats? Ohio features perhaps the stiffest front seven in all the MAC, a battle in the trenches for which Tennessee might not be adequately prepared. Plus, Tennessee’s tilt against the Bobcats serves as a wedge between two very high-profile contests: one at Bristol Speedway against Virginia Tech, one against the Florida Gators that may decide the SEC East.

Ohio certainly lacks the flash you’d expect out of a promising underdog, but the skill pieces are in place for the Bobcats to compete. The Bobcats can out-grind even the grittiest of opponents when Frank Solich has them firing on all cylinders- even those in Bielema’s beloved SEC. Granted, Ohio doesn’t look quite as strong as in years past, and they’ll likely need poise from an inexperienced Greg Windham to secure a fighting chance. But Butch Jones is prone to slow starts, and the climate seems right for another SEC shakeup. When it comes to #MACtion, anything is possible.

BielemaMeter: Jen Bielema. Yes, the wife of the Bretmaster happens to be smoking hot– just like this matchup’s BielemaMeter. Tennessee, beware- the Bobcats are on the prowl. One more disappointing season, and we may forget why we’re even supposed to care about you.

Week 4: Kent State at #1 Alabama

LOL.

BielemaMeter: freshly-tossed salad. You’ll be hard-pressed to find Bret Bielema venturing among leafy greens, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anybody willing to bet against the Crimson Tide in a shameless, non-conference cakewalk. Remember to respect the #MACtion Bret, or you may be eating spinach and romaine for the remainder of your days.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Email Cole at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Cole_Hankins.

The Mid-American Conference’s Best Football Games of 2016

Who’s ready for some MACtion? In 2015, the Mid-American conference was basically just a playground for Bowling Green. Quarterback Matt Johnson threw his way to 46 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards, leading the Falcons to a MAC championship and a ranking as the sixth-highest scoring team in the country. With Johnson now off to chase an NFL dream, the MAC should be wide open in 2016. Here are the ten games that will determine who, if anyone, can prevent back-to-back titles for Bowling Green.

10. Kent State @ Penn State (Saturday, September 3)

Kent State was 3-9 last year with two wins coming against UMass and Delaware State. Penn State was a mediocre 7-6 but finished 6-1 at home. Kent State won’t win this one, but with 18 starters back they should put up a good fight. If not, it could be another long year for the Golden Flashes.

9. Miami (OH) @ Ohio (Saturday, October 1)

This rivalry game is known as the Battle of the Bricks, so that’s cool. These teams will be positioning for a run in the MAC East. Miami struggled to a 3-9 season last year but should show improvement with 15 starters back. Ohio brings back just 11 while losing their starting quarterback.

8. Western Michigan @ Georgia Southern (Saturday, September 24)

This is a game the MAC will really want as a conference. Georgia Southern stomped the MAC Champion Falcons of Bowling Green in their bowl game to the tune of 58-27 last year. The game will feature a contrast in styles between Western Michigan’s balanced offensive attack and a Georgia Southern’s triple-option that produced over 4,700 yards rushing last year.

7. Kent State @ Bowling Green (Tuesday, November 15)

The MAC East is pretty wide open this year, not knowing what to expect from Bowling Green with QB Matt Johnson no longer around. By the time this game rolls around, we’ll know if Kent State has competed at all in the conference. Even if they haven’t, this will be a good chance for an upset against a first-time starting quarterback.

6. Northern Illinois @ Kent State (Friday, November 25)

If there’s a sleeper team in the MAC in 2016, it could be Kent State who returns a nation-high 18 starters this year. The defense was good enough during a 3-9 2015 campaign, but the offense just might need to improve on the paltry 73 points it scored in eight conference games.

5. Western Michigan @ Northwestern (Saturday, September 3)

Western Michigan has a chance to make a statement in this game. Northwestern will have a pretty inexperienced team playing in its season opener against a team it could overlook. Northwestern may have gone 10-3 last year, but was unimpressive in its biggest games. The Broncos are more than capable of putting up points against the Wildcats.

4. Central Michigan @ Oklahoma State (Saturday, September 10)

The Chippewas are unlikely to win this game, but if they play Oklahoma State well on the road it could spell trouble for the rest of the MAC. However unlikely it may be, it is the Mid-American Conference’s best chance to make a statement in the non-conference.

3. Western Michigan @ Northern Illinois (Saturday, October 8)

This is the third of the round-robin of games between the three teams likely to compete for the MAC West divisional crown (Toledo was the fourth to finish 6-2 last year, but returns just ten starters in 2016). Unfortunately for Western Michigan, it plays both games against the other two on the road, back to back.

2. Central Michigan @ Northern Illinois (Saturday, October 15)

Another huge match-up in the MAC West, Central Michigan handed the Huskies one of their two conference losses in 2015. With their starting quarterback returning as well as eight starters on defense, the Chippewas could be on their way to the conference championship game with a road win here.

1. Western Michigan @ Central Michigan (Saturday, October 1)

With Matt Johnson’s time up at Bowling Green, these two rivals will feature the two best quarterbacks in a high-scoring conference. They were also two of the four teams to go 6-2 in the MAC West and will compete again to try and overtake Northern Illinois for a spot in the title game.

E-mail Jason at or follow him on Twitter @JLindy87

Featured image courtesy David Wilson

CIT Tournament Round 1 Recap

Believe it or not, there is college basketball to be played outside of the NCAA Tournament. For those who finish the year on the wrong side of the bubble, the National Invitation Tournament, College Insider Tournament, and College Basketball Invitational provide many mid-major and Power 5 schools the opportunity to gain some well deserved momentum going into next season.

On the other hand, programs that finish the season amidst internal turmoil might have mixed feelings about appearing in a tournament other than the big dance. Regardless, there are games to be played and money to be had, as the College Insider Tournament gives 26 mid-major programs the chance to hoist a trophy at the end of the year, as a selection committee that is headlined by ex collegiate basketball standouts turned football stars Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson picks what teams qualify for the field.

First round action of the CIT kicked off Monday with two exciting games that both were decided in the final moments. Jackson State was able to upend Sam Houston State on the road, 81-77, in overtime. Grand Canyon improved to 26-6 on the year when they defeated South Carolina State, 78-74, behind five double figure scorers. The two will face off in a second round contest that will take place on March 17th.

Play resumed on Tuesday with three more intense first round contests. Coastal Carolina upended Mercer, 65-57 behind 18 points from junior guard Elijah Wilson. Furman was able to defeat Louisiana-Monroe on a buzzer-beating putback from sophomore Daniel Fowler. The most intense game of the first round also took place on Tuesday when Ball State pulled off the upset over Tennessee State on the road, 78-73 in two overtimes, for the Cardinals first postseason victory in fourteen years. Sophomore guard Jeremie Tyler led the way for the Cardinals with 25 points and 5 rebounds.

A majority of first round games took place on Wednesday, as New Hampshire picked up a win over Fairfield, 77-62, Texas-Arlington topped Savannah State, 75-69 and Boston University advanced with a close victory over Fordham, 69-66, New Jersey Institute of Technology got by Army, 79-65, Columbia shined in a decisive 86-54 win over Norfolk State behind four double-digit scoring efforts, and Tennessee-Martin squeaked by Central Michigan, 76-73, to close out the early games. The night cap saw Louisiana-Lafayette pull the upset over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in dominant fashion, 96-72, and UC Irvine avoid the upset in a thrilling overtime victory over North Dakota, 89-86.

Round two will tip off Thursday, and go through March 20th.

While it may be easy to overlook the CIT and other postseason tournaments like it as the NCAA Tournament gets a lion’s share of media coverage, there’s even more great basketball to fill the cravings of hardwood junkies across the country.

Email Alec at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @alec_kwait.

Image via Vimeo

The Final Week of Basketball MACtion!

Get ready for the last week of #MACtion.

As the regular season starts to enter its final week in the Mid-American Conference the top seeds are starting to fall into place.

The standings are flipped from the 2014-2015 season. Last year’s bottom-feeders, Ball State, are sitting at number three in the standings (first in the West). Ohio, which last year was the 11 seed last year in front of only Ball State, finds itself in second place going into the final week of play. Akron, which last year finished .500 in the MAC at 9-9 and got the seventh seed in the 2015 conference tournament, sit atop the standings. But as you know, anything can happen in college basketball. Each of the 12 teams have two games left. That’s plenty of time for someone to gain ground on the Zips.

On deck on Tuesday are some key games.

The first game starts at 7:00 p.m. in Muncie, Indiana as Ball State takes on Central Michigan. In the 2014-15 season Central was on fire, finishing 12-6 in the conference and securing the top seed in the 2015 MAC Tournament. However, in spite of bringing back all five starters and shooting well from beyond the arc as last year (hence being dubbed 3MU), the Chippewas have not had the same success they did a year ago. In fact, in their losses poor three-point shooting proved to be their undoing.

Another key factor for Central’s subpar performance may be the loss of senior Blake Hibbitts for the season in November due to a knee injury. Even though he only averaged 3.6 points and 2.5 rebounds a game in an average of 15 minutes of action last year, the loss of a senior leader, as well as his presence on the floor, have had their effects.

CMU has been led so far by former Detroit Country Day star Chris Fowler. Fowler is averaging 16.1 points per game. junior guard Braylon Rayson also averages 16 points per contest. The final scoring Chippewa is 6’4″ senior guard Rayshawn Simmons. Simmons has 12.9 points per contest.

Ball State comes off its 115-79 curb-stomping of Eastern Michigan. The Cardinals had six players in double figures on Saturday. The leading scorer was Sean Sellers who had 26, far above his normal average of 5.8. Ball State uses a balanced attack that so far this year has done well. They enter Tuesday with a 19-10 record and only three players averaging double figures, no one above 11 points per game.

Although Central is a veteran group, I have to take Ball State in this one. Central is just 2-8 away from home and Ball State is 12-3 on its home floor. Look for the Cardinals to jack a ton of threes and hit the open man in a win over Central.

The second big game on Tuesday features the number one and number two teams in the MAC East. Ohio and Akron will get together at 8 p.m. in Akron. Ohio will come into Akron hot off a 103-96 win over Buffalo. Ohio has four of its starting five averaging 10 or more points per game. Sophomore Jaaron Simmons had 31 in the win Saturday. The Bobcats will also look to shoot from outside as they have three starters that shoot over 40% from behind the three-point arc.

If Akron can pull this out, it guarantees itself the top spot in the East division. Like Ball State, the Zips will send out a balanced attack, led in scoring by junior Isaiah Johnson who has 13.3 points per game. It is worth noting however that three other Zips average 10 or more points per contest. Akron also goes deep into its rotation with 10 players who play nine or more minutes per game. The Zips also gang-rebound with eight players having two or more rebounds per game. This prolific team offense and effort has Akron sitting 22-7 on the year and 13-0 at home. Because they play so well at Rhodes, I expect Akron to speed past the Bobcats. Watch Zips guard Josh Williams versus Ohio, he had 20 last time they played and was 4-5 from downtown.

On Friday, the big game will be in Akron once again as Kent State comes into town. This game, if Akron stumbles on Tuesday, could be for the number one seed in the MAC Tournament. Kent State is led by redshirt junior Jimmy Hall, who averages 16.4 a game. Of late, Hall has been hot and will need to stay that way this week to keep the Golden Flashes in the MAC race. Akron, however, lost on the road to KSU earlier in the year and will have something to prove on its home court. Look for Akron to get points from the reserves who contributed 31 points in the last contest versus the Golden Flashes.

MAC tournament prediction: Akron is the number one seed, followed by Ball State and Ohio.

E-mail Karic at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Kirky313.

Photo: Wikipedia