Most of the out-of-conference games are in the books, and I've been out of commission for a week or so--MAC play really kicks-off this weekend, so everyone's getting to work.
Here's what we know:
1. Temple is without a doubt the front runner to represent the East in the MAC Championship Game in Detroit. The Owls are 3-1 with their only loss coming at the hands of Penn State University this past Saturday, 22-13. Heisman Candidate (although for a MAC player to really be considered his team would most likely need to go undefeated) Bernard Pierce is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and over 85 yards per game. Temple has arguably faced the toughest schedule of any MAC school, beating Villanova (one of the upper echelon FCS universities), Central Michigan, Connecticut and losing to Penn State. That loss to Penn State was about as impressive as you can get considering the Owls held the lead midway through the third quarter. Temple should improve to 4-1 this weekend against Army before meeting Northern Illinois in what should be a set-the-tempo type of game in week 6.
2. The jury is not out on Kent State. The Flashes crushed Murray State, lost to Boston College 26-13 and 24-0 to Penn State--that was all to be expected, so who knows. The KSU defense has played very well without pass-rush specialist Monte Simmons, but the offense has turned to stagnant without All-MAC RB Eugene Jarvis. Again--all to be expected. Kent State travels to 2-2 Miami on Saturday. David Carducci of the Record-Courier wrote an interesting piece on whether or not Jarvis will return this Saturday, his expected date.
3. Speaking of Miami--the RedHawks were underrated, and it's time to admit it. Florida was held well under 100 total yards through the first three quarters of their home opener to Miami (not the team from Florida like most from the UF would like to think). Miami beat Eastern Michigan and Colorado State and then lost to Missouri--those aren't great credentials, but Miami isn't a basement team in the MAC East like many thought they'd be. Akron however, is.
4. The Zips are in trouble. Akron is 0-4 with losses--home losses--to Syracuse and Gardner-Webb in overtime. The offense averaging 126.5 yards rushing per game and just 139 yards passing per game while scoring 17.5 per game. Both running backs, Nate Burney and Alex Allen, are averaging around five yards per carry. The passing game has been with QB Pat Nicely has been horrendous and the defense is giving up around 200 more yards per game than they are gaining. First year Head Coach Rob Ianello is struggling to find an offensive system with any rhythm. Their schedule doesn't help either, with the next five games coming against Northern Illinois, Kent State, Ohio, Western Michigan and Temple.
5. Toledo has joined Nothern Illinois as the favorites in the West. The Rockets have won three straight games on the road, highlighted by their most recent victory over Purdue, 31-20. Sophomore quarterback Austin Dantin threw for 204 yards, two touchdowns and ran for two more. Toledo has homecoming vs. Wyoming and then travel to Idaho to play #3 ranked Boise State. That would garner quite a bit of attention for that upset.
Power Rankings--Week 5--
East: (just the East this week, until MAC play picks up)
1. Temple 1-0 (3-1) --A win over CMU and playing PSU close looks awfully nice heading into MAC play.
2. Kent State 0-0 (2-1)--Jarvis might return this Saturday against Miami, and Monte Simmons should be full speed for the Akron game Oct. 9.
3. Miami 1-0 (2-2)--Maybe the magic of giving Florida fans heart-attacks has worn off, but the RedHawks have looked tough. Kent State at Miami this Saturday is a real "show-me" game.
4. Bowling Green 0-0 (1-3)--The Falcons' offense has come to play, and beating Marshall notches them above Ohio. Beating Ohio on Saturday would go a little further for them.
5. Ohio 0-1 (1-3)--All of a sudden a loss to Toledo doesn't look so bad. This Saturday's game with Bowling Green will show where they stand.
6. Buffalo 0-0 (1-3)--Buffalo standing at 1-3 with their weak schedule up to this point doesn't bode well.
7. Akron 0-0 (0-4)--Losing against Kentucky and Indiana? Expected. Losing at home against Syracuse and Gardner-Webb? Not what the fans were expected, the few thousand that showed up. For all the negative attention Akron has sent towards Akron's way, the Zips are in the same light-attendance boat.
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