Don’t look now, but the Bowling Green Falcons (4-2, 2-0 MAC) have some competition for the MAC East crown.
Bowling Green was a runaway preseason favorite to win the MAC East this season and looked to have an easy go of it, as the MAC East has been stat fodder for opponents the last couple years, and was projected to be so yet again this season. Yet, here we are at the end of week five of college football, and Bowling Green finds itself on the outside looking in for a spot in the MAC Championship.
Here are the standings as of today:
The Falcons had a great showing in the out-of-conference season, pasting Maryland and edging Purdue, showing off their fast-paced offense in the process. However, losses to Memphis and Tennessee showed major flaws in their defense, which is one of the least-efficient in the nation. Matt Johnson continues to show a mastery of the offense, going off this week for 450 yards and five touchdowns against Massachusetts on an amazing 84.7% completion rating.
Roger Lewis has proven to be an effective target, already finding 40 receptions, 760 yards, and six touchdowns.The defense has work to do, however. Bowling Green is 120th in the nation in total defense, averaging 482 yards and 36 points per game allowed, with a 120th ranked pass defense that gives up 294.6 yards per game for an average pass of 7.6 yards. The running defense (ranked 96th) is slightly better, but not by much, averaging 187 yards allowed on the ground and 11 touchdowns.
The Ohio Bobcats have witnessed a renaissance this season, soaring up the standings chart with an impressive 5-1 record, which could very well be a 6-0 mark if it wasn’t for a controversial call in their upset bid vs. Minnesota. The ‘Cats have racked up wins vs. Akron and Miami (OH), and look to be well on the road to another bowl-eligible season for the seventh straight year. A solid defense is to thank for this resurgence, as it looks better than projected in the preseason.
Ohio doesn’t cause a lot of turnovers, but they do tire defenses down. Overall, the Bobcats are 61st in the country in total defense, allowing 1,769 yards on the year. That middling number is quite deceiving; despite the abundance of yards allowed per game (214.4 passing, 139.4 rushing), Ohio only allows 18.2 points per game, one of the lowest marks in the nation. The offense appears to finally be progressing as well, with Derrius Vick (921 yards, seven touchdowns, two interceptions) settling in as the starting quarterback, and Daz’Mond Patterson (266 total yards, four total touchdowns) and Sebastian Smith (17 rec., 256 yards, three receiving touchdowns) proving to be reliable options at running back and receiver, respectively.
Akron, which has been a laughingstock in their past, has slowly emerged from mediocrity and has shown grit in their conference slate, losing a close game to Ohio, and running away with the victory against the hapless Eastern Michigan Eagles. The Zips are 39th in total defense, a significant improvement from years past. At current, they’re only allowing 92.4 rushing yards per game, good enough for 16th in the country. The passing defense, despite giving up 219.8 yards a game through the air, have also only allowed six touchdowns, and wrangled five interceptions, pretty good numbers to have in your pocket for the future.
Akron has also allowed only 20.4 points per game as well. On offense, there are still questions to be answered, but the Zips seem content for now going with Thomas Woodson (897 yards, seven touchdowns) for the near future. Jerome Lane, a linebacker last season, and Imani Davis, are dependable receiving targets for whoever starts under center, accumulating 639 yards and six touchdowns thus far this year. Conor Hundley has been a sneaky good power running back, running for 474 yard and six touchdowns against a surprisingly tough schedule. The Zips, even with their numbers being largely average, can keep games close, and sometimes in a conference season, that’s a great place to be.
Now, this doesn’t mean BGSU won’t fly #FalconFast to the title just because of a couple upstarts. Ohio and Akron will have their days with BGSU soon enough. The Falcons are still a legitimate contender thanks to an insanely deep receiving corps and a Heisman-worthy quarterback that leads the nation in passing yards with 2.085.
However, past history has shown that Ohio and Akron have terrible reputations for falling apart in the second half of the season. Akron flew to a 4-2 start last season, just to finish 2014 at 5-7, with a loss to 2-9 rival Kent State in the last week to take them out of bowl contention for the first time in nearly a decade. Ohio limped to the end of the season last year as well, finishing 6-6 and being left out of a bowl for the first time in five years.
That being said, I would suggest renewing your ESPN3 subscription and watching some more #MACtion this season; both divisions are going to be a doozy.