HAPPY MONDAY TO ALL, ESPECIALLY THE FALCONS OF BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY.
Bowling Green hadn’t beaten a Big Ten team since 2015, and I don’t think anybody was ready for it to actually happen either. But anybody that’s good at catching onto MACtion astrology might’ve been able to see this one coming.
MAC STAR #1: P.J. FLECK
Obviously, Fleck is the head coach for Minnesota. But when he was a 4-year coach at Western Michigan, he saw Bowling Green as a good program. His first year coaching WMU was BGSU’s first of three-straight MAC championship appearances. Fleck himself went 1-1 against the Dino Babers-led Falcons. Times have changed, but you know the saying. You can take the P.J. Fleck out of MACtion, etc.
MAC STARS #2 & #3: SEAN LEWIS & MATT JOHNSON
The last time BGSU beat a Big Ten team, the 2015 Falcons beat Maryland 48-27 on the road. Sean Lewis was the BG offensive coordinator at the time, and Matt Johnson was the team’s QB.
Where exactly were Lewis and Johnson at on Saturday? Oh that’s right, they were both coaching Kent State in a road trip to Maryland of all places.
MAC STAR #4: MATTHEW TRICKETT
People probably forgot about this move. A grad transfer from the Sean Lewis-led Kent State is kicker Matthew Trickett, who has proved to be the league’s best kicker since his true freshman year landed at Minnesota over the offseason.
He was 1/2 against BG in field goals, and missed wide on a 52-yard attempt in the third quarter. After missing his field goal attempt, the Falcons completed a 65-yard drive for what ended up being the game-winning TD.
It has to be some weird arrangement of stars doing the work because this upset is one of the oddest-looking games I’ve seen in a while. BGSU’s stud corner Davon Ferguson led the team with two sacks. BG’s offense had fewer than 200 yards; it averaged less than three feet per rush. BG still managed to punt it away eight times.
But still. A MAC win over a Big Ten team is still a MAC win over a Big Ten team. It doesn’t matter if I think this year’s version of BGSU football’s going to be the best team to reach the Camellia Bowl since the 2014 version of BGSU football. Doesn’t matter if I think Minnesota’s any good or any bad.
Hell, this just might be history repeating itself with another iteration of Toledo’s upset in Michigan from 2008. And if so, then I’m coming out of this game being an even bigger believer in MACtion astrology than I was before the weekend.
Week 5 MAC Football Power Rankings
WESTERN MICHIGAN — Western Michigan’s holding up its end of the bargain by winning its final non-conference game, over the defending Mountain West champion at home. The Broncos-Spartans game didn’t feature a bunch of scores (especially in the second half) but WMU’s defense played well all game, and won its first game without allowing a touchdown [against another FBS team] for the first time since 2017 (vs. Ball State).
After beating SJSU to follow up last week’s big win at Pitt, this is week #2 with WMU as my top-ranked MAC team. And this feels like the safest placement on here yet again.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN — QB1 Jacob Sirmon was replaced by Daniel Richardson midway through yesterday’s game when the Chippewas had to battle back from being down 20-10 (then 27-10) at home. I’m going to have to visually review this game later in the week (didn’t catch it live) but it didn’t look like Sirmon played too terribly (14/26, 121 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), but it definitely looked like Richardson played out of his damn shoes (16/23, 276 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT).
Will there be drama at that QB spot after this game? I uh, hmm, I don’t know what to say about this spot on CMU’s team just yet! But So far, I feel like a lot of my priors on this team are being confirmed. The defense did buckle down while CMU rallied back with 3 TDs in the fourth quarter, the receiving room looks deeper with the improved QB play in the pass game, and that gives RB Lew Nichols enough room to do his thing (152 yards vs. FIU, 384 yards this season). The QB thing (or whatever) needs to get settled, but Jim McElwain wasn’t about to go down with this loss on his career ledger.
TOLEDO — Toledo didn’t look too bad in the MAC opener at Muncie. Outside of Cam Maddox’s 69-yard TD catch and QB Dequann Finn’s 70-yard TD scamper in the first half, this offense didn’t get establish many chunk plays. Not only is this team not hitting as many homers as it’d like, it’s also leaving a pretty important chapter of its offensive playbook out of the game: Toledo only had two trips to the red zone at Ball State, and the team’s currently ninth in the MAC in red zone trips (9). It’s third-down offense from the game (4-12) and season (9th in MAC, 33.9%) is probably a cause for concern. I don’t care how positive Jason Candle’s been sounding in the media, this simply isn’t going to be enough to win the MAC West. Especially this year.
Getting Finn involved in the run game has been working out pretty well for UT which is nice to see. What’s troubling is that behind him, the rest of the team (led by Bryant Koback; 23 att., 84 yds.) picked up 166 yards on the ground on 32 carries. Finn had 25 total rush attempts (largely in garbage time) over the last two seasons, and has already surpassed that total this year with 29. Also has 213 rush yards (7.3 avg.) and 3 TD.
EASTERN MICHIGAN — Quietly, or maybe without anybody’s attention, EMU is a 3-1 football team with all three wins coming by more than multiple scores. The reason why nobody’s going “hey, loogit that” over this team’s four-game performance is because the schedule has been boo-boo: wins over FCS-level St. Francis, UMass (should be FCS), and most recently Texas State. If TSU were better or more popular, the 59-21 win on Saturday would’ve felt heavier.
I’ve previously questioned what EMU’s doing at quarterback. The team has leaned more on Ben Bryant’s arm than Preston Hutchinson’s legs over the last two games and have put up 42 points at UMass and 59 points at home last weekend. Maybe EMU’s benefiting over a pretty weak schedule, but EMU used to be one teams like UMass or Texas State could’ve flexed on. EMU’s halfway to bowl eligibility as it enters MAC play in a division that’s still largely up for grabs.
How many upsets does EMU realistically need to pull off in this divisional race?
BUFFALO — The Bulls are 2-2 after Saturday’s close win over Old Dominion, but just barely. UB was shut out in the second half while ODU came back from being down 35-7 at halftime to a rally that went down to the wire. ODU scored a pair of TDs in the third and fourth quarters; with :19 seconds left, the Monarchs were flagged for its backup QB celebrating with his teammates after the big touchdown. ODU was moved back on the PAT try, and the kick was no good. Had this game gone to overtime: who knows? But that second-half dud by UB is probably worth examining.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS — Same with Buffalo, I’m not moving NIU down on here as much as I am moving EMU up on the list, which is why NIU went from 5 to 6 in this week.’s power ranking. Though I’ll add that this game shouldn’t have been as close as it was (tied 14-14 during first half), but NIU came through with the respectable win.
KENT STATE — Dustin Crum had a 300-yard passing game against Maryland (Dante Cephas: 10 rec., 151 yards, 1 TD) but other than that there wasn’t much to write home about for Kent.
It’s a bit disappointing that this is how the non-conference slate played out for the Flashes. You really can’t ask for much more than losing 41-10 at Texas A&M, beating VMI 60-10, losing 30-7 at Iowa, and losing 37-16 at Maryland. All three of those Power 5 road trips were going to be difficult asks to begin with. Two of those teams were top-10 programs and Maryland’s trending up with another Tagovailoa as its QB.
I feel like I maybe should have Kent State lower by one spot on here, but this team’s getting the benefit of the doubt for its tough non-conference slate.
BOWLING GREEN — The question isn’t whether or not it’s time to re-evaluate some priors I’ve had on this football team, but how much? Bowling Green pulled off its first Big Ten upset since 2015, true. I don’t know exactly how much more success they’ll see in the W-L columns if they keep having games where they put up fewer than 200 yards of offense in a game (192 at Minnesota), but it worked this time.
A couple weeks ago, it was BG that was unable to keep control of the lead in its home game against South Alabama, and threw an INT to the Jaguars in the final moments for the Sun Belt team to set up a game-winning field goal. This time, BG was able to capitalize off of Minnesota senior QB Tanner Morgan’s mistakes and worst game of his career.
Don’t look now, but… well actually look at this stat. BGSU’s defense currently leads the MAC with 4.4 yards per play allowed.
MIAMI OH — The RedHawk defense limited Army, which was secretly one of the hottest offenses in the country, to five punts on the afternoon, but it still out-paced Miami’s offense 384 yards (5.6 per play) to 232 (4.9). Miami’s run game was silenced by Army: 28 rush yards on 20 attempts.
BALL STATE — Drew Plitt had fewer than 200 passing yards on 35 pass attempts vs. Toledo on Saturday. He’s still yet to throw a TD since the Western Illinois game, and has 3 INT thrown over the last three games too. This team’s gonna have to figure out how to, uh, score touchdowns before it thinks about how it can retain the MAC championship via chaos scenario.
AKRON — I’m happy with how Akron started against Ohio State, but there’s not a whole lot to write home about after losing 59-7. QB D.J. Irons is still standing after the Buckeyes recorded nine sacks on the night, so that’s good for Akron’s future outlook.
OHIO — Ohio currently has an 0-4 record to open up this season. This sucks. I have nothing new to say about this Ohio football team at this moment in time, so let’s find something old to say about all the other moments like these over time.
HERE’S A LIST OF EVERY TIME OHIO FOOTBALL STARTED WITH AN 0-4 RECORD
- 1905* — I’m cheating on this first one, but hear me out. Back when things weren’t so modern, this team started out with an 0-5-2 record before it got its first and only two wins of the season. Its two tie ball games, the first and sixth games on the schedule, finished with 0-0 scores. I’m not a religious man but spiritually, those count as losses. This will be the only time on the list where I count 0-0 ties as losses, but only because I want to save myself some time.
- 1910 — This Ohio team didn’t put up a single point all year long! These Bobcats went 0-6-1 and had back-to-back weeks where it suffered a 71-0 loss to Pittsburgh, then a 0-0 tie with something called Muskingum. Opponents outscored this team 123-0.
- 1956 — Ohio’s first time going 0-4 as a MAC team. It lost 47-7 at Florida State, 19-13 vs. Toledo, 31-7 at Xavier, then 32-13 at Kent State. Ohio eventually scooped up a couple of shutout wins at WMU (27-0) and Marshall in the season final (16-0) to finish with a 2-7 record.
- 1965 — In 1960, Bill Hess led this team to a National Small College Championship after the team pulled of a perfect season with five shutouts. In 1965 and still under Hess, Ohio did the exact opposite of all of that and the team went 0-10. (This team with Hess won the MAC again in 1968.)
- 1985 — Twenty years after its last 0-4 season, Ohio had its fourth-ever 0-4 start. Under first-year head coach Cleve Bryant, Ohio started out by losing three road games (Marshall, Duke, Miami OH) and one home game (CMU) before Ohio grabbed its first two wins in November. The Bobcats finished with a 2-9 record.
- 1986 — Another 0-4 season! Instead of waiting for nine losses before Ohio got its first win, the team saw its record fall to 0-10 before getting its one any only win of the season, 34-26 over NIU.
- 1989 — Back then, you could start 0-4 at a school multiple times and not lose your job as a football head coach. This is evidenced by Cleve Bryant’s third 0-4 start as Ohio’s head coach (Losses at Toledo, at Iowa State, vs. EMU, and at Vanderbilt), and another 1-win season for the team to show for. From 1985 through 1989, Ohio won only nine games under Bryant. He was replaced going into the 1990 season.
- 1993 — Fourth-year coach Tom Lichtenberg won four games over his first three years as Ohio’s coach and this team opens the ’93 campaign with losses at #14 North Carolina, at CMU, vs. Ball State, and at Toledo. The team finished 4-7 with all four wins coming over the final five weeks.
- 1994 — Two coaches in a row at Ohio have now experienced 0-4 starts in their Ohio tenures, so that sorta stinks! This Ohio team didn’t win a single game in 2004, blanked three times. Lichtenberg was replaced by Jim Grobe after the season, and this sentence will be the only time you read Grobe’s name on this list.
- 2001 — First-year head coach Brian Knorr (long-time assistant and defensive coordinator w/ Ohio to this point) opened up his career with losses at Akron (31-29), at West Virginia (20-3), vs. Iowa State (31-28) and vs. #23 Toledo (48-41). It was the fifth game of the year where Ohio got its one and only win of the season, over CMU (34-3).
- 2002 — After a 1-10 start, Knorr led Ohio to a 4-8 record the next year, but not before another 0-4 start to the year. That’s three of the last four coaches by Ohio to have consecutive 0-4 starts in their times with the school. Just remarkable. Ohio lost at Pittsburgh (27-14), vs. Northeastern (a D1-AA team, 31-0), at #12 Florida (34-6) and at UConn (37-19).
- 2008 — That’s right, friends. Even Frank Solich wasn’t immune to the ol’ 0-4 start. In this year, the Bobcats lost a bunch of close games: at Wyoming (21-20), at Ohio State (26-14), vs. CMU (31-28), and at Northwestern (16-8).
In conclusion: Unless you’re Jim Grobe then you’re simply just going to have an 0-4 record at some point as the head coach of Ohio football.