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MAC Fearless Predictions - Week 1, Part 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 30, 2006


Preview and predictions for the week one MAC games


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

MAC Week One Fearless Predictions

Northern Illinois at Ohio State  3:30 pm EST ABC Saturday, September 2nd
Why to watch: These are considered the two best teams in their respective conferences and this should be more than just an exhibition for the Buckeyes. Ohio State is getting all the early love as the nation's number one ranked team in the big polls, and now it has to go out and prove it's a national championship caliber squad against a pesky Northern Illinois team that gave Michigan all it could handle in last year's opener. Yeah, the Wolverines won 33-17, but the outcome might have been far different had there not been a slew of unforced Huskie errors.. The Ohio State offense will get most of the attention, but NIU's diminutive star Garrett Wolfe might be the best back in the game and is worth the price of admission.
Why Northern Illinois might win: What's the difference between the big BCS schools and a program like Northern Illinois? Depth. NIU doesn't have the stable of players that Ohio State boasts, but its front-line guys are good enough to hang around for a full sixty minutes. The Huskie offensive line, particularly the tackles, have NFL talent and aren't going to get bowled over by the tough Buckeye line. If NIU can control the clock and control the game with Wolfe and the ground game along with an effective short passing attack, and if OSU's head is already in Austin for the big showdown next week, this might be close.
Why Ohio State might win: There are two big problems with the NIU defense as it matches up with the potent Ohio State offense. 1) There isn't nearly enough size to be more than just a speed bump against the fantastic Buckeye offensive line. 2) The speed in the back seven doesn't come close to matching the speed of the OSU receivers. The NIU secondary is experienced, but not special. Troy Smith and the Buckeye offense should be able to pick and choose how it wants to move the ball.
Who to watch: The eyes of Texas, and the rest of the college football world, will be on the brand new Ohio State defensive back seven. While the early word is that all the lost NFLers have been replaced by near-certain future NFLers, it's going to take a little while for everyone to come together like last year's killer unit. If the Buckeyes struggle at all with NIU's solid offense, then look for the panic alarms to start going off.
What will happen: There will be a few moments when NIU's offense makes some noise and throws a scare into the Buckeyes, but the OSU offensive line will be way too much for the Huskie D in the second half. The difference in speed and athleticism will be apparent by the third quarter.
CFN Prediction
: Ohio State 38 ... Northern Illinois 16
... Line: Ohio State -18
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 3 
Final Score: 


Akron at Penn State  3:30 pm EST  ESPN2  Saturday, September 2nd
Why to watch: How often do you get to see a matchup of defending conference champions? It's not USC vs. Texas, but Akron and Penn State are each looking to repeat last year's success and each has a lot to prove. The Zips won the MAC title over Northern Illinois on a last gasp touchdown pass and are the favorites to win the East again, but they failed to beat a bowl bound team and lost to Memphis 38-31 in the Motor City Bowl. J.D. Brookhart is one of the hot young names in the coaching ranks and he can make even more noise if his team has a good game in Happy Valley. Penn State wants to come out smoking before next week's showdown at Notre Dame.
Why Akron might win: There are just enough pieces in place to make life tough for the Nittany Lions. It's the opener, so it'll take awhile for both teams to shake the rust off and it should take at least a few quarters for the Penn State passing game to click. It's Anthony Morelli's big debut as Penn State's starting quarterback and there might be a few problems early on with one of the MAC's best secondaries. Akron's Luke Getsy is the best quarterback in this game.
Why Penn State might win: Akron doesn't have the firepower to keep up if this gets into any sort of a shootout. While Getsy will be one of the MAC's brightest stars, he's working with a new receiving corps and doesn't have Brett Biggs to hand the ball off to. The Penn State linebacking corps isn't exactly the group you want to go against when you're trying to find a running game. Everything will have to click for Akron to keep this close and that includes the special teams. Breaking in two new kickers isn't a plus.
Who to watch: It'll all be about Morelli. He doesn't have to be Michael Robinson, but he has to be efficient and he has to limit his mistakes. Getting star receiver Derrick Williams back to go along with Deon Butler will help. Now Morelli has to prove he can constantly get them the ball. ... Akron sophomores Dennis Kennedy and Alex Allen are speed backs who have to show they can provide the same all-around production as Biggs provided. The more they take the pressure off Getsy, the longer the Zips will stay in the game.
What will happen: Morelli will have a wonderful game, but the stars will shine brightest on defense. The Penn State defensive front seven will dominate.
CFN Prediction
: Penn State 31 ... Akron 14
... Line: Northwestern -3.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 2.5 
Final Score: 


Western Michigan at Indiana  6 pm EST   Saturday, September 2nd
Why to watch: Of the six matchups between the Big Ten and MAC in the first weekend, this should be the most competitive game. Indiana almost got tagged in last year's season opener against Central Michigan coming away with a 20-13 win, and there should be just as many problems against the high-powered Western Michigan attack. Indiana has to find wins everywhere it can get them, and it certainly can't afford to give away a home game against a MAC team. This should be a fun shootout with lots of big plays and plenty of passing yards.
Why Western Michigan might win: If the Broncos can somehow find a way to replace the production of top receiver Greg Jennings and star tight end Tony Scheffler with a host of prospects, quarterback Ryan Cubit will get them the ball. Cubit appears to be 100% after hurting his knee last year and was razor sharp throughout fall practices. If this gets into a firefight, the Broncos should be able to keep up.
Why Indiana might win: Western Michigan doesn't have the secondary to slow down the Hoosier receiving corps. The Bronco linebackers are good enough to stonewall the IU ground game for a half and should generate a little bit of pressure on QB Blake Powers, but it won't be enough to keep the Hoosiers from cranking out 300 passing yards. While the Bronco defensive line has a little bit of size, it'll have a hard time holding up against the big IU offensive line.
Who to watch: With the off-the-field issues stemming from domestic battery charges behind him, Indiana WR James Hardy appears ready to explode. He was unstoppable against the mediocre teams last year, but he struggled against the big boys. Now the 6-7 sophomore is in better shape slimming down about ten pounds to a lean 208 and is noticeably quicker. With a good supporting cast taking some of the heat off, Hardy should have a huge day.
What will happen: Western Michigan doesn't have the defense to slow down what the Hoosiers will want to do. A team like WMU doesn't just replace players like Jennings and Scheffler right away.
CFN Prediction
: Indiana 38 ... Western Michigan 27
... Line: Indiana -4
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 2.5 
Final Score: 


Wisconsin at Bowling Green  7 pm EST  GamePlan  Saturday, September 2nd
Why to watch: Game one in the Bret Bielema era comes in a strange MAC road game for Wisconsin. The Badgers beat Bowling Green 56-42 in last year's season opener, but they have to replace their receiving corps and running backs. The Falcons are moving on after star quarterback Omar Jacobs left early for the NFL, and they also need to replace most of their top receivers and running backs. With an easy four game stretch coming up (Buffalo, at FIU, Kent State and at Ohio), Gregg Brandon's boys could go on a big-time run if they can pull off the upset.
Why Wisconsin might win: Can Bowling Green reload fast enough to do anything against the Badger D? Wisconsin's problems are on offense; the defense should be spectacular. With one of the Big Ten's best defensive lines and a tremendous linebacking corps, the Badgers should stuff the Falcon running game without a problem. If the line can consistently get into the backfield, it'll be a long night for the Falcons. That might be easier said than done because ...
Why Bowling Green might win: ... BGSU's strength is on the offensive line. Center Kory Lichtensteiger and 350-pound guard Derrick Markray will soon be playing on Sundays and aren't going to be dominated. Wisconsin has to deal with a slew of problems on offense from QB John Stocco's knee injury to the loss of projected top receiver Marcus Randle El to the replacements looking to get their feet wet on the line. If this gets into any sort of a shootout, Bowling Green might have the advantage.
Who to watch: Who's going to catch the ball? Randle El suffered a season-ending knee injury in summer practice making an already inexperienced Badger receiving corps even shakier. Juniors Jarvis Minton and Paul Hubbard have to play like seasoned veterans right away or else it might be back to the drawing board to come up with a steady passing game. Bowling Green lost
130 catches 1,883 yards, and 20 touchdowns of production from Charles Sharon and Steve Sanders, so Robert Ruiz and Marques Parks have some big shoes to fill..
What will happen: Wisconsin's defense and offensive line, as inexperienced as it may be, will take over in the second half and squash what might look like an upset in the making.
CFN Prediction
:
Wisconsin 27 ... Bowling Green 17 ... Line: Wisconsin -7
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 3
Final Score: 


Tennessee-Martin at Ohio  7 pm EST  Saturday, September 2nd
Why to watch: Ohio lost the final three games of last year and didn't look good doing it. It gets a nice layup against a UT Martin team playing its only game against a D-I team this year. With a road trip to Northern Illinois next week, the Bobcats have to us this as a tuneup. The Skyhawks went 6-5 last year and could use a good showing as a confidence builder.
Why UT Martin might win: If Ohio's offense is anything like it was last season, UTM shouldn't have any problems staying in the game.
Why Ohio might win: It's a new year with new players and new hope, but that doesn't mean the UTM run defense will be appreciably better. Late last year, Arkansas State rumbled for 279 yards on the ground on the way to a 56-7 laugher over the Skyhawks. Ohio's offensive line should dominate and lead the way to close to 300 rushing yards.
Who to watch: The running backs should be the stars. Ohio's Kalvin McRae would be heralded as the MAC's top returning tailback if it wasn't for Garrett Wolfe t Northern Illinois. He's a powerful, tough runner who should have little problem pounding out yards in chuncks against the Skyhawk front line. For UT Martin, Donald Champman is the centerpiece of the offense coming off a 1,396-yard, 16 touchdown freshman season. If he's not running wild, this won't be pretty.
What will happen: UT Martin is still trying to get its quarterback situation settled. That's not a positive for a team that needs everything to be in place to keep this close. Ohio will have its most productive offensive day of the season.
CFN Prediction
:
Ohio 45 ... UT Martin 10 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 1
Final Score: 
 

MAC Week One Fearless Predictions