Week 2 is officially here! Now that Ohio-Pitt is about set to kick off, here’s the rest of today’s MACtion-intensive schedule with my weekly GAMEDAY PREDICITONS.
|Saturday, September 7|
|Ohio @ Pitt||11 a.m.||ACC Network|
|Kennesaw State @ Kent State||noon||ESPN3|
|UAB @ Akron||noon||CBSSN|
|BGSU @ Kansas State||noon||FSN|
|NIU @ Utah||1 p.m. (noon CT)||PAC12|
|Fordham @ Ball State||2 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Tennessee Tech @ Miami||2:30 p.m.||ESPN+|
|CMU @ Wisconsin||3:30 p.m.||Big Ten Network|
|WMU @ Michigan State||7:30 p.m.||Big Ten Network|
|EMU @ Kentucky||7:30 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Buffalo @ Penn State||7:30 p.m.||FOX|
This won’t be Ohio’s most-difficult road game
By SP+, Ohio’s ranked No. 70 in the country and Pitt sits at 87.
Marshall, next week’s opponent (and will have one extra day of rest since the team played last night), is 51st.
Next week’s Battle for the Bell is going to be incredibly revealing for Ohio, and today shouldn’t be considered an upset if Ohio comes away with the win, even if Pitt’s a 4-point favorite by Vegas. It’ll be framed that way because obviously one of those teams is in the MAC and the other is in the ACC and that’s enough for the lazy crowd to call it an unforeseen circumstance, but how can anybody not see Ohio winning this one? We’ve seen it before.
NIU at Utah hits the over
Vegas set the over/under for this game to be at 44.5 points with Utah as 21.5-point favorites.
NIU’s offense was slow to wake up last week in the home opener against Illinois State, but I’m of the belief that the second half was much more revealing than the first when the teams entered halftime with a 3-3 score.
Ross Bowers, well we know he can be good. We’re learning that what can help make Bowers good is new receiver Tyrice Richie making big plays, like the 68-yarder he gassed in last week against the Redbirds.
Sure, the offenses have to be clicking for either team just to sniff the O/U bar, but that’s going to be difficult considering that these two units are incredibly sound on defense. Special teams and defensive turnovers will have to give both/either of these teams more favorable field position to get points on the board. Hell, maybe even a defensive score or two will do the trick.
EMU will beat Kentucky *if*…
- The Eagles defense plays up to its potential.
- Mike Glass throws anywhere north of 70-something%
- EMU averages more than 2.8 yards per rush or whatever it is that it’s getting from the running backs
- Dylan Drummond keeps doing his thing. Specifically, I’m thinking about that first touchdown grab he had against Coastal where Glass threw a bullet across his body to an awkwardly-stretched Drummond who needed his entire wingspan and long legs to both make the ccatch and keep a foot down and in bounds.
EMU’s listed as 15-point underdogs, and Kentucky is currently 35th in SP+ while EMU is at 97. Still early for all of that, but I’m of the impression that if Kentucky plays just like it did against Toledo, and EMU’s defense and quarterback play are better than what the Rockets showed (totally possible!), then this could very well end up being EMU’s first win over an SEC team ever.
FROM THE PICK EM: QB with most yardage vs. FCS opponent will be Drew Plitt
From my weekly MAC Pick ‘Em, here was the question. Which QB will have the most total yards vs. their FCS foes?
- Woody Barrett vs. Kennesaw State
- Brett Gabbert vs. Tennessee Tech
- Drew Plitt vs. Fordham
For me, it was either Barrett or Plitt, and Barrett might actually be the better pick here but I’m only here for a good time, not a long time.
Ball State’s wide receivers group is pretty reliable and I liked what I saw out of Plitt last year and how he started things off this year against Indiana. I think Ball State can get a lot of work done early through the air, which is where most of Plitt’s damage will have to be. Barrett’s got the advantage of being a dual-threat player on an offense that still has most of everybody from last year on it around. But Kennesaw State’s actually got a good chance of winning here, not because Kent’s bad, but because Kennesaw’s a legit program.
Gabbert, who knows? He played really well against Iowa. Loved every second of his game there, but it’s still really early. There’s enough uncertainty there for me to not know if he’ll end up struggling in a game he shouldn’t, or if Chuck Martin wants to exercise more playing time for his other QBs in a should-be win over the visiting FCS team.
Western Michigan scores two touchdowns
Is this a medium-temp. take?
Remember what I said about special teams and defense helping out NIU and/or Utah in getting points on the board by setting themselves up with favorable field position?
Keith Mixon’s super-duper fast and when WMU has to field punts* or return kicks, this Mississippi State transfer is absolutely worth being feared. Last week against Monmouth, his three kick returns went for 52, 26, and 65 yards, and had a 21-yard punt return.
* this will require WMU’s defense to make stops on first, second, and third downs.
If Mixon’s speed can get WMU’s offense to start the ball closer to the 50 than their own 25, then I think Tim Lester’s going to have to trust his offense and start stabbing at some chunk plays through the air.
- CMU’s defense gives up fewer than 400 yards to Wisconsin. Last week against USF, Wisconsin had 435 yards of offense.
- After throwing 10 times last week against Robert Morris, Matt Myers will have more than 10 passes in the first half against Penn State, but then UB will try to run out all the clock it can in the second half with run play after run play.
- Akron scores a touchdown. I don’t feel too confident about this, but Akron will do it!
- #OldFriendAlert: James Gilbert has fewer than 10 carries against Bowling Green.
- The BG-Kansas State game could be physical and competitive for a little bit — First few minutes? First half? — but for as much as BG wants to emphasize getting pressure on defense through its front seven, it’s not going to play up to the level that it’d take to beat Kansas State. It’ll only play up to the level that it takes to make the game worth watching for a little bit.