2010 MAC Fearless Picks - Oct. 2 (NIU-Akron)

Posted Sep 30, 2010

Fearless Predictions for every MAC game, Oct. 2, Part 2

2010 MAC Fearless Predictions

Week 5 ... Oct. 2, Part 2

East | Akron | Bowling Green | Buffalo | Kent State | Miami Univ. | Ohio | Temple
West  Ball State | Central Mich | Eastern Mich | Northern Illinois | Toledo | West Michigan  

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- Oct. 2 (KSU-Miami)

Buffalo (1-3) at Bowling Green (1-3) Oct. 2, 3:30

Here's The Deal … Both teams went nowhere fast in non-conference play with Buffalo failing to beat an FBS team and Bowling Green getting by Marshall and losing shootouts to everyone else, but hope springs eternal and the start of the MAC season gives each team a chance to truly show its stuff. The Falcons got their doors blown off by Michigan in a 65-21 loss, but they hung tough for a while until the roof caved in after halftime. The offense isn't the high-powered machine it was last year, but it has the potential to get really good, really fast, while Buffalo is simply trying to find something that works. The Bulls have only scored 47 points over the last three games and can't come up with any consistency, but that's what playing Bowling Green is for. With dates at NIU and Temple up next, this is a critical game for BU or an 0-3 start is almost assured. The Falcons go on the road to face Ohio next week.
Why Buffalo Might Win: Forgetting the Michigan debacle for a moment, Bowling Green isn't generating any pressure on anyone with just four sacks on the year and a mere 12 tackles for loss. Buffalo's offense needs all the time it can get to operate, and it should be able to crank out yards in chunks against the nation's worst defense. The Falcons got hit by Michigan for 721 yards, but Tulsa cranked out 546 and Troy blew up for 475. Everything is working on this D, so UB should find something, anything, that works.
Why Bowling Green Might Win: Just when it seems like the Bulls are about to turn a corner, the interception comes. With eight picks given away so far, along with two fumbles, UB gets burned every time it tries to press a little bit. Bowling Green gets a much-needed break this week from facing the high-powered attacks, and it shouldn't take too much offense to put the game away. The Bulls did bomb away a bit on Connecticut last week, but they don't have the firepower to keep up is the Falcon offense clicks early on.
What To Watch Out For: For a team in dire need of playmakers, Buffalo junior Terrell Jackson is becoming a weapon who needs the ball in his hands more. At 5-11 and 183 pounds he has decent size to go along with tremendous quickness, and after struggling as a returner last year, he has stepped up his came averaging 16.17 yards per punt return to go along with 22.36 yards per kickoff return and 15 catches. He needs to do even more for an offense that lacks consistent pop.
What Will Happen: Bowling Green will get to stretch its legs a little bit. The Buffalo defense isn't bad, and it'll generate enough pressure to force Aaron Pankratz into a few bad plays, but the Bull offense will continue to have consistency problems.
CFN Prediction: Bowling Green 26 … Buffalo 20 … 5Dimes.com Line: Bowling Green -3.5
Must See Rating: Katy Perry on Sesame Street - 5 … Eastbound & Down - 1 … 1.5
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Ball State (1-3) at Central Michigan 2-2) Oct. 2, 3:30

Here's The Deal … Central Michigan isn't exactly back to being Central Michigan, but it played reasonably well last week fighting late to spook Northwestern. But the main goal is to get back into MAC title contention, and it still has a while before dealing with road trips to Northern Illinois and Toledo. For now, a win over Ball State is a must with Virginia Tech up next, and if the passing game can click like it has over the last few weeks, that won't be a problem. The Cardinals hit a rough patch (to be kind) getting blown out by Iowa a week after putting up a decent fight against Purdue, and while the horses aren't there to beat CMU if this gets into any sort of a shootout, the defense should be better now that it gets to pick on someone its own size.
Why Ball State Might Win: The only chance Ball State has it to control the clock and get the ground game going a little bit. Trying to run on Iowa, and even Purdue, is going to be a problem, and while CMU did a great job against Temple's running game, Ball State has to try to get physical right away. The Chippewa attack has been inconsistent so far as everyone continues to try to get on the same page from the coaching staff on down, and Ball State has to hope that this is an off day.
Why Central Michigan Might Win: The problem for the Cardinals is that they won't force that off day. The CMU offensive line is hardly a rock, but Ball State has no pass rushing ability whatsoever and Ryan Radcliff is too solid a quarterback to not take advantage of the extra time. Yes, Ball State does have to run to win and it does have quick backs, but the CMU defensive front has been a relative brick wall so far and has been fantastic at hitting the quarterback.
What To Watch Out For: CMU linebacker Matt Berning is submitting his résumé for MAC Defensive Player of the Year a bit early. The senior moved from the inside out and he has been a terror, following up a 108-tackle season with a team-leading 35 tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss. The former foreign exchange student from Germany took a little while, but he knows what he's doing. Very smart and very tough, he picked the sport up playing for the Dusseldorf Panthers and played for the German National team three years ago.
What Will Happen: Ball State will get buried under the CMU pass rush, while Radcliff will throw for an efficient 275 yards in the easy win.
CFN Prediction: Central Michigan 41 … Ball State 20 … 5Dimes.com Line: Central Michigan -17
Must See Rating: Katy Perry on Sesame Street - 5 … Eastbound & Down - 1 … 1.5
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Northern Illinois (2-2) at Akron (0-4) Oct. 2, 6:00

Here's The Deal … Akron might not be the worst team in the country, but it's in the team photo at the moment after a rough first month with a loss to Gardner-Webb and three blowouts against mediocre BCS conference teams. Now the Zips get someone their own size in their house facing a good Northern Illinois team in the MAC opener for each. Akron isn't getting anything on offense, but it improved a bit last week in the 35-20 loss to Indiana. Meanwhile NIU took care of business in its battle against the Big ten beating Minnesota a week after a solid game in a loss to Illinois. With Temple ahead next week, the Huskies can't afford to look ahead, but it might be tempting with this the third road game in a row and the fourth in five weeks.
Why Northern Illinois Might Win: Akron's lines have been awful. There's no push from the defensive front and no pressure into the backfield whatsoever. On the other side, the offensive line isn't giving QB Patrick Nicely any time to throw allowing a whopping 14 sacks in four games. NIU doesn't have a killer pass rush, but it has enough athletes to be able to rattle the cage against this mediocre offensive front. The Huskie ground game is starting to hum at just the right time with the offense finding something that works with Chandler Harnish under center.
Why Akron Might Win: NIU hasn't done anything with the passing game on a regular basis. Harnish threw for 227 yards against Illinois, but that wasn't NIU football. The Huskies have to run to win, and Akron has a decent enough linebacking corps to load up and force Harnish to win through the air. While the Zips not be potent, they're stingy with the ball turning it over just twice all season long.
What To Watch Out For: Now that's the Chad Spann we've all been waiting for. The Huskie senior ran for 140 yards against North Dakota, but that's North Dakota, and he tore through Minnesota for 223 yards and two scores. NIU is 6-0 in his career when Spann runs for 100 yards or more, including 125 with two scores last year against the Zips, and he should hit the 100-yard mark this week.
What Will Happen: NIU will run for 250 yards with Harnish and Spann each coming up with yards in chunks, and while Akron will get its yards, but it won't convert them into points.
CFN Prediction: Northern Illinois 34 … Akron 23 … 5Dimes.com Line: Northern Illinois -13.5
Must See Rating: Katy Perry on Sesame Street - 5 … Eastbound & Down - 1 … X
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Wyoming (1-3) at Toledo (3-1) Oct. 2, 7:00

Here's The Deal … Wyoming, if you have any interest in going to a bowl game, and if you want to come close to a winning season, this is the game you have to win. After losing three straight, and not even coming close in overmatched dates against Texas against Boise State, the Cowboys have to deal with TCU and Utah next. But all of a sudden, the game against Toledo doesn't appear to be as easy as it might have seemed this offseason. The Rockets got embarrassed at home by Arizona 41-2 to start the season, but as it turns out, the Wildcats are actually pretty good. And then came the fantastic three-game road run beating Ohio and Western Michigan to go 2-0 in MAC play, and then came the slight-stunner beating Purdue by 11 in West Lafayette. With a trip to Boise State coming next, UT could use a home win before dealing with the spotlight game.
Why Wyoming Might Win: Even with the win over Purdue and 209 passing yards, Toledo's offense continues to be inconsistent and inept averaging just 260 yards per game. Wyoming's offense has been a disaster, but it has the excuse of facing two national title-level teams (okay, but Texas is close) and Air Force, while Toledo hasn't beaten a team that'll end up in a bowl game. The Rocket pass defense can be beaten if Austyn Carta-Samuels gets a little bit of time, but …
Why Toledo Might Win: The Rocket pass rush has been fantastic. Stifling at times, Toledo's defense has been terrific against the run primarily because of the pressure into the backfield and the consistent pops on the quarterback. The 12 sacks in four games is just the half of it; the defensive front is doing a great job of putting the passer on the ground and hurrying up the attacks. While the production hasn't led to a whole bunch of success for the secondary, Wyoming doesn't have the firepower or the talent to be quick enough to avoid the rush. The Cowboy line has allowed ten sacks so far and hasn't gotten any sort of a push for the ground game.
What To Watch Out For: Toledo LB Archie Donald has come up with a whale of a first month. The 6-2, 244-pound senior has been everywhere, and after making 235 tackles as the team leader in each of the last two seasons, he's on his way to an All-MAC season after doing a better job working on his one main weakness: pass defense. Along with making 43 tackles so far, with 16 against Purdue, he has picked off two passes. Sniffing out the short pass plays better than in the past, he's getting to everything and being even more disruptive.
What Will Happen: Toledo still won't generate too much on offense, but the defense will keep Wyoming from consistently moving the ball on the ground with the defensive front knocking around Carta-Samuels all game long. This will be close for a while, and then the Cowboy mistakes will start coming.
CFN Prediction: Toledo 23 … Wyoming 16 … 5Dimes.com Line: Toledo -3.5
Must See Rating: Katy Perry on Sesame Street - 5 … Eastbound & Down - 1 … 2
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- Oct. 2 (KSU-Miami)