“Halfway through the Mid-American Conference season, the Zips are still very much in the hunt for their second MAC championship in history, though so is everyone else in the East Division. The six MAC East teams are separated by 1.5 games – the University of Akron and Buffalo are tied for first place with two wins and Ohio and Kent State are in last with one win.””
Halfway through the Mid-American Conference season, the Zips are still very much in the hunt for their second MAC championship in history, though so is everyone else in the East Division.
The six MAC East teams are separated by 1.5 games – the University of Akron and Buffalo are tied for first place with two wins and Ohio and Kent State are in last with one win.
No one has an above .500 conference record.
It seems its a race to see who is the least horrible team in the division, not to mention the right to get pounded by the West Division champ in the MAC Championship. No one is without debilitating weakness.
In reality, it doesn’t matter this season. A MAC East Championship heading into next year, which will be the most hyped season in history with the excitement of InfoCision Stadium lurking, will help bolster ticket sales.
And whoever does get there will have 60 minutes of football. I’m not saying a MAC East team will beat a West team, but anything can happen in a single game. However, nothing short of Ball State quarterback Nate Davis snapping a femur will make much of difference.
It’s still one more game. And in one game anything – like a desperation chuck from Luke Getsy to Domenik Hixon – can happen in one game.
The Zips have the third easiest road to the MAC East title, behind Temple and Bowling Green.
The record of Temple’s remaining opponents is 8-19 (.296 winning percentage); OU’s is 8-17 (.320) with the Zips foes at 13-23 (.361).
The Bobcats are 1-4 in the MAC with two of its remaining three games at home, all of which are against East opponents. The Owls are 2-3 with two home games remaining.
The first-place Bulls are tied for Zips with a 2-2 conference record, with their remaining opponents record at 10-15 (.400), with half of its four remaining games at home.
Which will make the final game at the Rubber Bowl next Thursday that much more important.
Kent State (12-13 remaining opponents’ record) and Miami (16-17) have to play MAC West powerhouses Western Michigan and BSU, respectively.
Temple seems to have the inside track. Though they have a virtually nonexistent offense that averages 17.9 points per game, worst in the conference, they allow the least amount of points of all MAC East teams (19.8).
That coupled with their relatively easy schedule – against Kent State, Eastern Michigan and the Zips – they should be in a good position when they host the Zips on the final day of the regular season.
To fend off the Bulls and Owls, the Zips must shore up their defensive and find a way to win close games, something they’ve had issues with this season.
The defense has been trampled on all season – literally – allowing a MAC worst 211 rushing yards per game. They’ve been hindered by injuries, and one suspension, to the front three all season, but that can no longer be a crutch if the Zips expect to play for a conference crown.
The defense relies on creating turnovers too much, so much that it seems as if that’s the game plan: go for interceptions and strips and allow the offense extra yards.
If that is, in fact, the plan, UA is doing it with alarming success.
The 20 takeaways the defense has caused is the 20th most in the country, but the rushing defense is the ninth worst.
Being tested as much as UA’s collective poise in close games, which hasn’t been impressive this season. Three of the last four games have been decided by three points or less, with the Zips losing two of those.
The win, in double overtime over KSU, was given away by a missed 23-yard field goal and fumble on a punt.
The losses were sloppier. The Falcons won after outscoring the Zips 23-6 in the fourth quarter and a missed extra point led to a failed two-point conversion in a three-point loss to Cincinnati.
If the Zips plan on playing in Detroit, they have to limit their weaknesses – before everyone else does.