MAC pick ’em, week 12
The mid-week MAC games continue in this, the penultimate week of the regular season. First up, which I wrote about some last week, is the game of the week in the MAC, and once again it’s on Tuesday night. Last week, we witnessed Northern Illinois deliver a beatdown the likes of which Tolodo will remember for quite a while, and with that win, the Huskies have a clear inside track to the MAC Championship game at Ford Field; since Northern Illinois is a game ahead of Toledo and owns the tie-breaker, the Huskies would have to lose both of their final two games, which are at Ball State and, of course, at EMU.
But that was last week. This week’s big game is Ohio travelling to Philadelphia to take on Temple. As of right now there are still three teams with a shot at winning the MAC East — in addition to the Bobcats and the Owls, the Miami RedHawks are also a surprising 5-1 in the MAC — and the loser of this game will be eliminated from the hunt, while the winner of this game will control their fate in the MAC. I think that if both teams were at full strength, Temple might be a little bit better, plus they’d get a slight edge for playing at home. But Ohio quarterback Boo Jackson was injured in a bar brawl a bit over a week ago, and while he didn’t break any bones, he did suffer a concussion, making his status for the big matchup a game-day decision. If Jackson plays, I think Temple will win a close game, but if he is forced to sit out, Temple’s defense will have little trouble containing back quarterback Phil Bates, and the final score will resemble the last three games the Owls have played.
Neither of the MAC’s Wednesday night matchups should be close. Miami should have no trouble with Akron, even if, as seems likely, the RedHawks are looking past the winless Zips to their game next Tuesday against Temple, in which the MAC East title could be on the line. Likewise, unless the Rockets are still getting over the hammering they took in DeKalb, Toledo should easily beat Bowling Green in the Battle of I-75, winning the Peace Pipe for the first time since 2006.
On Saturday, Northern Illinois should lock in their MAC West championship with a win over Ball State. Then, in what may be one of the more evenly-matched games of the week, Kent State (4-6, 3-3 MAC) takes on Western Michigan (4-6, 3-3 MAC) for a chance at bowl eligibility in the final game of the season. Jeff Sagarin has these teams very closely ranked, or at least I’m sure he would if he had Kent State’s correct record. Sagarin has their Predictor scores, which he considers — get this: the best predictor of future games! — just 1.38 apart. Western Michigan has the higher Predictor score, which incorporates margin of victory, but Kent State has the higher Elo Chess score by nearly 8 points. I honestly don’t feel strongly either way, but since the game will be in Kalamazoo, I’ll give a slight edge to Western Michigan.
The final game is, of course, EMU at Buffalo. We’ll wait for the full game preview on that one.