If you could use one word to describe the action from college football last Saturday, I have one that you could use: MACtion!
No, there wasn’t a Tuesday or Wednesday game involving teams from the Mid-American Conference. (That actually starts up again in the first week of November.) What occurred last Saturday, however, will go down as, inarguably, one of the most memorable weekends in the conference’s football history, as a trio of teams posted impressive non-conference victories.
In Little Rock, Ark., the Toledo Rockets had the unenviable task of relaunching their 2015 season against the No. 18 Arkansas Razorbacks after their regularly-scheduled season opener against Stony Brook was cancelled due to bad weather the week prior. All the 22 1/2-point underdogs ended up doing was holding the Hogs to 12 points – including holding them to only three total points on six red-zone drives – in a 16-12 victory, the Rockets’ first ever road win over a top-25 non-conference opponent. Quarterback Phillip Ely, who transferred to the Glass City from the University of Alabama, threw for 237 yards and, more importantly, didn’t commit any turnovers. Despite being outgained by almost the length of two football fields (515-318), the Rocket defense held firm, including stopping the Hogs on downs at Toledo’s 7-yard line on the next to last drive of the game, then foiling Arkansas’ last-ditch attempt into the end zone on the game’s final play from the Rocket 16-yard line.
Bowling Green, on the other hand, was the utterly dominant outfit in a game matching a MAC team on the road against a Power Five opponent, as the Falcons crushed the Maryland Terrapins 48-27. Coming back from a seven-point deficit at halftime (6-13), the Falcons erupted for 42 second-half points and more than doubled the total yardage output of their Big Ten opponent in College Park (692-341). Matt Johnson threw for a school-record six touchdown passes while his 492 passing yards were second most in a single game in Falcon history.
Bowling Green, last year’s MAC Eastern Division winner, and Toledo, last year’s co-winner win the MAC West, were picked to win their respective divisions in the MAC preseason poll, unlike Eastern Michigan, who received the fewest points of any team in the poll and expected to finish in the West. But even the Eagles had a memorable Saturday on the football field as they went into the thin air of Laramie, Wyo. and defeated the Mountain West’s Wyoming Cowboys 48-29, picking up win No. 1 of the 2015 season. Hope for the Eagles to finish with their first winning record since 1995 was buoyed by that win, with sophomore quarterback Brogan Roback throwing for a career high 330 yards and three touchdowns in the blowout that saw EMU score 38 first-half points.
Once again, there’s great football being played all across the country, but the thrills and spills of MACtion can only been seen in the Mid-American Conference. You might want to pay attention more to some of those teams as the season goes on, and do it more often than the annual novelty acts of Tuesday and Wednesday football that keep the football appetite whet until the weekends later in the fall.
The septet of pollsters who make up the A Lot of Sports Talk 2015 College Football Poll panel always have a voracious appetite for football, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. Here are the lovely men and woman who make up the panel every week: T.J. Basalla (super fan, marketing professional based in Ohio), Evie Van Pelt (managing editor at The Rebel Walk Magazine), Basil Mitchell (former TCU and Green Bay Packers RB), Sandy Weintraub (super fan, Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards at the University of Oregon), Nick Mancuso (patent attorney who attended USC as an undergrad and Oregon for law school), Adesina Koiki (Football Writers Association of America member/voter, A Lot Of Sports Talk editor-in-chief) and an anonymous football staff member at a Division II school who once coached at the FBS level.
Here is ALOST‘s 2015 College Football Top 25 for Week 3. If you have any comments and/or complaints, write them below on the Facebook window or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
So after we just extolled the exploits of some of the football teams in the Mid-American Conference, the Huskies of Northern Illinois are going to pull off the massive upset at The Horseshoe on Saturday, right?! Umm, well…let’s just leave that answer as, “we’ll see.” (Adesina Koiki)
Nick Saban rarely loses to a team twice in a row, but he will have his hands full with Ole Miss on Saturday. ESPN College GameDay will be in T-town; Saban better hope Katy Perry isn’t… (Evie Van Pelt)
Solid win against a game opponent (Oregon) at home. They should be able to handle the rest of the teams on their schedule until that Nov. 21 game in Columbus. (Nick Mancuso)
Though the battle for the Iron Skillet should prove to be no more than a glorified scrimmage against SMU, the Horned Frogs have to be concerned with the mounting injuries to their defense. (Adesina)
Baylor is on a bye, which means it can work on its defense, a unit that has allowed 26 points per game so far this season against “powerhouses” SMU and Lamar. But while on their bye, their offense will put up 70 points somewhere, somehow. (Adesina)
They’re like a hot knife through butter right now, but actual butter may have put up a better fight than their first two opponents. (Nick)
Almost out of the blue, this BYU-UCLA game has become one of the marquee games in the country on Saturday. The Bruins are the better team, but the Cougars have some serious kismet surrounding them as they head into the Rose Bowl. Oh, and it’s a 10:30 PM Eastern start. It’s #Pac12AfterDark, everyone! (Adesina)
For years, Georgia’s games against South Carolina would be a measuring stick for Mark Richt’s club. Now, Steve Spurrier and his Gamecocks come into Athens on the heels of losing at home to Kentucky, which means that Georgia has to avoid a letdown. (Adesina)
We would have said tonight’s game in Louisville was a real tricky contest before the Cardinals lost at home last week to Houston. That result might actually mean the game just got even trickier for the Tigers, with the 0-2 ‘Ville looking to bounce back from their defeats and make a statement against one of the ACC’s lead dogs. (Adesina)
The Seminoles have a history of losing non-Saturday primetime away games, which is exactly what Friday’s tilt against Boston College will be. Methinks this will be nail biter. (Adesina)
The Irish’s defense got exposed in their great escape in Charlottesville. Can it hold up against against the Ramblin’ Wreck and Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack? (Nick)
So the Ducks lost a three-point decision to a top 10 team with their quarterback playing with a broken finger and a couple of other key players having to leave the game due to injury. They lost the game in East Lansing, but probably earned more respect from college football world than derision. (Adesina)
No disrespect to the teams that had Joe Hamilton and/or Calvin Johnson, but the 2015 Yellow Jackets have the potential to be the best football team the school has had since the 1990 national championship team. Defeat Notre Dame in South Bend and that talk will only intensify. (Adesina)
Stoops and the Sooners deserve a lot of credit for coming from behind and beating the Vols in double overtime at Neyland Stadium. (Evie)
With both Arkansas and Mississippi State, the Aggies’ first two conference opponents, taking a tumble last week, it’s more than possible that A&M will be 5-0 heading into a home showdown with Alabama. No time to look ahead now, and that starts with this week’s game vs. Nevada. (Adesina)
Before last Saturday’s game in Starkville, Les Miles said, “I’m not distracted by cowbells.” Clearly, cowbells don’t win games. Neither do teams like Mississippi State when committing costly delay-of-game penalties to push themselves out of reasonable field goal range in the closing seconds, like what happened last week. (Evie)
Les can’t keep winning with a C-minus at QB year-after-year, can he? (Nick)
Chad Kelly is No. 1 in the nation in QBR and has entered the Heisman race. If he and the Rebels, ranked first in the ESPN Football Power Index, can defeat the Tide in Tuscaloosa, there may be a new sheriff in the SEC West. (Evie)
Yes, it’s possible to win a game and drop more than 10 spots. The Muschamp Era is off to a tenuous start. (Evie)
Other than UCLA fans, Arizona supporters might be rooting for the Bruins to beat BYU on Saturday more than anyone. If that happens, and Arizona takes care of business against Northern Arizona, the UCLA-Zona game next week in Tucson should be the marquee game of the week in college football. (Adesina)
Can the Cardiac Kids do it again against UCLA this Saturday? (Nick)
A solid defense will mask a mediocre offense more times than not. (Nick)
Nerd fight! The Wildcats go into Durham to take on a Duke team looking to earn their way back into the Top 25. If you’re looking for a real good under-the-radar game this week to watch, this game should be up your alley. (Adesina)
If it wasn’t for two Kentrell Brothers fourth-quarter interceptions in Jonesboro, the Tigers could have easily been added to the list of SEC teams that grossly underwhelmed last week (e.g. Auburn, Arkansas). Despite the struggle, Missouri fought its way to a road win over Arkansas State. (Adesina)
The Pokes’ defense has been stellar the first two games, and that should continue on Saturday against Texas-San Antonio. How it holds up during Big 12 play will be the key to whether Okie State can legitimately challenge for a conference title. (Adesina)
Sparky struggled mightily against the triple-option attack of FCS member Cal Poly, allowing 284 rushing yards as the Sun Devils had to score two fourth-quarter touchdowns to break a 21-21 deadlock after three stanzas. They’ll see more of the triple option on Saturday when New Mexico comes into town. (Adesina)
Others receiving votes:
Temple (10 points), Wisconsin (7), California (6), Florida (6), Houston (5), West Virginia (5), Tennessee (5), Duke (2), Kentucky (1)
* – To break ties, we used a three-step criteria; 1) higher number of first-place votes, 2) higher number of ballots (out of six) the teams appeared in, 3) highest single ranking by an individual pollster (e.g. if Team A and Team B are tied cumulatively and appeared in all six polls, but Team A’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 7 and Team B’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 9, Team A wins tiebreaker)
[Cover photo (Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebration) courtesy of Patrick Smith/Getty Images]