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MAC Fearless Predictions, Week 3, Part 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 14, 2006


Preview and predictions for the week three 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
Past MAC Predictions:
Week One | Week Two

How'd we do so far? 19-3 straight up, 10-8-1 ATS


MAC Week Three Fearless Predictions

Ohio (2-0) at Rutgers (2-0), 3:30 EST, ESPN Gameplan, Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: Raise your hand if you thought these two schools would be 4-0 combined after the first two weekends of the season. Liar. The Scarlet Knights have been surprisingly good in wins over North Carolina and Illinois, and Ohio used an uncommonly balanced offense on Saturday to author a shocking 35-23 road win at Northern Illinois to go along with a bunch of school firsts.  Frank Solich has the Bobcats headed in the right direction and one win from the school’s first 3-0 start in three decades.  Rutgers has one of the most dynamic running tandems in America, and is fresh off a 33-0 spanking of the Illini in which the offense, defense and special teams contributed touchdowns. With Howard coming up next week, Rutgers has an honest shot of going 4-0 before jumping into Big East play against South Florida. Ohio needs this with a nasty date at Missouri next week.
Why Ohio might win: Rutgers’ first two opponents were feeble offensively, but the Bobcats will challenge the Knights with a versatile attack that rung up 509 yards on Northern Illinois last weekend.  Kalvin McRae is an established 1,000-yard back, and QB Austen Everson is fresh off the school’s first 300-yard passing day in 20 years. If the Bobcats can throw like they did against the Huskies, suddenly this becomes a nasty attack to deal with.
Why Rutgers might win: RBs Ray Rice and Brian Leonard are getting most of the Rutgers pub these days, but the Scarlet Knight D will start to get more and more respect as the year goes on.  The unit just posted its first shutout in six years and is 11th in the country in scoring defense. This group is the real deal, and it’s more than good enough to keep McRae and check. Everson isn’t going to have two big-time passing games in a row.
Who to watch: Rutgers sophomore DE Jamaal Westerman is coming off a two-sack day showing more and more that he’s able to pick up the slack left by the graduation of Ryan Neil and Val Barnaby.  If Rutgers is going to more than just a one-month wonder, the defensive line must continue putting to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Any heat on Everson will force mistakes.
What will happen: Someone’s posing, and it’s not the Scarlet Knights, who continue to get better and gain confidence.  While commendable, Ohio’s win over Northern Illinois will wind up being more of a blip on the radar than a sign the Bobcats are ready to storm the gates of the MAC East.
CFN Prediction: Rutgers 35 ... Ohio 14 ... Line: Rutgers -17
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2
     

Western Michigan (1-1) at Virginia (1-1) 3:30 PM EST Saturday September 16th
Why to Watch:  The Wahoos struggled mightily with the pesky Wyoming Cowboys last weekend eking out a 13-12 overtime win thanks to a missed extra point. Is Virginia this average? It needs to right the ship in a big hurry with Georgia Tech and the ACC season coming up next.  For this week, the visiting Broncos are coming in sky-high after taking the lead role in the MAC West race after a convincing victory over Toledo scoring 24 unanswered second half points.  This is a good enough team to make a national statement by knocking off a BCS team on its turf, like Akron did last week at NC State.
Why Western Michigan Might Win:  Bonds. Mark Bonds.  All the junior running back did last week against Toledo was rush for 134 yards on 22 carries and one score. After dominating with former WR Greg Jennings and TE Tony Scheffler in the passing game in 2005, Bonds has forced the WMU coaching staff to be fluid in their thinking about what he can do in the running game as well as in the passing attack.  On defense, the Broncos’ pressure produced five sacks and forced three interceptions against Toledo, which is the worst news that the UVA offensive coaching staff needs to hear with the team’s developing quarterback problem.
Why Virginia Might Win:  One week after getting torched by Pitt’s Tyler Palko, UVA CB Marcus Hamilton, one of the best in the ACC, and the secondary had a strong game against Wyoming’s passing offense. The secondary’s ability to lock down the perimeter will allow safety Nate Lyles to come up into the box and help stop Bonds. Regardless of who eventually plays quarterback this week, a receiving threat is emerging. Fontel Mines?  Nope. TE Tom Santi?  Uh uh.  Who?  Kevin Ogletree, a 6-2, 184-pound sophomore, caught ten passes for 95 yards and the game winning touchdown against the Cowboys.
Who to Watch:  Backup UVA QB Kevin McCabe came into the game during the fourth quarter last week and was instrumental in the win over the Cowboys throwing the game winning TD in overtime.  He has played fairly well in both games while starter Christian Olsen has struggled mightily.  Who will start isn’t nearly as important as who’ll play well.  Whoever Al Groh decides on must be aware of WMU DB Londen Fryar.  The Bronco DB had two picks last week, one of which he ran back 97 yards to break Toledo’s back.
What Will Happen:  UVA’s defense must disrupt the WMU blocking schemes to keep Bonds from rushing for over the six yards a carry he cranked out against Toledo.  Whether the Wahoo defense runs a series of zone run blitz dogs or more base schemes, they should hold Bonds to under 100 yards putting more pressure on QB Thomas Peregrin, who’ll get the call with starter Ryan Cubit banged up, to throw the ball 20 to 25 times to move the WMU offense.  The UVA QB situation will continue to play itself out on the field for another week, forcing the running game, which has run for a total of 84 yards in two games, to move the chains and pick up key yardage throughout the game.
CFN Prediction: Virginia 21 ... Western Michigan 17 ... Line: Virginia -9
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House) ... 2.5

Bowling Green (1-1) at FIU (0-2) 6 pm EST Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: Bowling Green takes a quick break from the MAC season with a strange road trip to Miami before playing Kent State last week. With Ohio and Ohio State ahead, the Falcons have to take full advantage of the easy part of their schedule and avoid a major letdown like last week in the way-too-close-call, three overtime win over Buffalo. FIU has been the heartbreak team of the season losing 7-6 to Middle Tennessee and 21-20 to South Florida. With Maryland up next and only one more home game until mid-November, Don Strock's club needs this win.
Why Bowling Green might win: The FIU offense has yet to get going, especially on the ground. QB Josh Padrick is a solid, veteran quarterback who can get hot, but the secondary is Bowling Green's strength early on this year. RB Julian Reams and the Golden Panther running game isn't likely to get going here. On the other side of the ball, FIU has been able to stay in the last two games because of a fearsome pass rush. With the mobility of Anthony Turner and Freddie Barnes, the pressure will be negated.
Why FIU might win: Punting. Bowling Green might be the only team in America with worse special teams than FIU. The Golden Panther punting game has been abysmal, but Chandler Williams has been one of the nation's top punt returners early on this year. Bowling Green uses a funky punting formation that's led the way to blocks, and a an abysmal 12.82 net average. The Falcon return game is doing next to nothing.
Who to watch: Bowling Green is playing around with its quarterback situation, and it worked well against Buffalo. Turner is the main man for the passing game coming off a 204-yard effort against Buffalo, but he can also run. Barnes is almost purely a runner and will line up is a "pony" position to be used as a runner and to get the ball in his hands in space. He'll also see a little bit of time under center. They should rotate throughout the game giving FIU several different looks.
What will happen: Will the real Bowling Green finally show up? The parts aren't clicking yet, but the combination of Turner and Barnes will put be enough to come away with a much-needed road win.
CFN Prediction
: Bowling Green 31 ... FIU 20
... Line: Bowling Green -4.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2

Buffalo
(1-1) at Northern Illinois (0-2) 7:35 pm EST Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: If Northern Illinois thinks it's still in the hunt for the MAC title, it needs a win. A dominant win. A win that shows that the ship is back afloat after a stunning 35-23 loss to Ohio. With Indiana State ahead, the Huskies have a chance to be 2-2 is they can get by ... Buffalo? Under new head coach Turner Gill, the Bulls have been more than just competitive beating Temple in overtime in the season opener before losing in a three-overtime thriller at Bowling Green. If Gill and his Bulls pull this off, it would likely be the biggest win in the program's history.
Why Buffalo might win: Simply put, NIU isn't playing well, especially in the secondary. Getting torched by Troy Smith and Ted Ginn is one thing, but the Huskies made Ohio's Austen Everson look like Peyton Manning allowing 332 yards and three touchdowns last week. Ohio doesn't throw effectively, ever. Buffalo's Drew Willy is improving and should be effective if he gets a little bit of time.
Why Northern Illinois might win: This is the game Garrett Wolfe will use to cement himself as the nation's leading rusher by a large margin. Averaging 183.5 yards per game, the Huskie star should go ballistic on a UB defense that got blasted for 356 yards and four scores by Bowling Green. The Buffalo game might normally be a letdown, lookahead date for NIU. After an 0-2 start, Joe Novak's squad will be fully focused.
Who to watch: Talent-wise, Buffalo still isn't up to D-I snuff, so it needs turnovers, a few big breaks, and special teams to stay in games. The biggest boost has come from the return game with Naaman Roosevelt averaging a whopping 18.2 yards per punt return to go along with a 94-yard kickoff return for a score against Bowling Green. Gary Rice has also helped out on the kickoffs, but Roosevelt is the game-breaker who needs to come up with a few big plays for UB to have a shot.
What will happen: Northern Illinois will bounce back with Wolfe rushing for 250 yards.
CFN Prediction
: Northern Illinois 40 .. Buffalo 16
... Line: Northern Illinois -23
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2.5 

MAC Week Three Fearless Predictions