MAC Fearless Predictions, Week 3
Posted Sep 14, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week three MAC games

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, Part 2

MAC Game of the Week

Akron (1-1) at Central Michigan (0-2) 1 pm EST Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: Is this a preview of the MAC title game? With Toledo and Northern Illinois losing last season, the West is there for the taking by a solid Central Michigan team that can make a big statement at home against the defending MAC champion. The Chippewas are 0-2, but they're a solid 0-2 giving Boston College all it could handle and losing to Michigan in the Big House (no shame there). Akron is sky-high after shocking NC State on a last-second touchdown. With North Texas and Kent State ahead, the Zips will likely start out 4-1 if they can come away from Mount Pleasant with a win.
Why Akron might win: The defense has been fantastic, particularly against the run. Penn State and NC State might not have juggernaut rushing attack, but they're good BCS teams with some excellent talent in the backfield. Akron held the Nittany Lions to 76 yards, and NC State to 81 thanks to some gutty play from the line and some timely plays in the backfield. Central Michigan will need to run to win, but that might be a problem. However ...
Why Central Michigan might win: ... don't let the stats fool you. CMU might be 104th in the nation in rushing, but that's because it played BC and Michigan. Ontario Sneed and mobile QB Dan LeFevour will have a little more room to maneuver this week. The Chippewas should win the field position battle thanks to a far better punting game. Akron is only averaging 29 yards a kick, while CMU's Tony Mikulec has bombed away for a 41.54-yard average.
Who to watch: He won't get the publicity of Northern Illinois star Garrett Wolfe, and he doesn't have the name recognition among MAC fans like Sneed or Ohio's Kalvin McRae, but Akron RB Dennis Kennedy is quickly making some noise after rushing for 117 yards and three touchdowns against NC State. He's a flashy speed back with great hands out of the backfield, and he showed off his workhorse ability with 30 carries last week with some tough yards late when the offense needed them the most. For CMU, Sneed is overdue to breakout. One of the bright young new stars of 2005, he has been held in check over the first two games rushing for a total of 80 yards.
What will happen: Central Michigan will finally play someone its own size and will come up with a performance that'll announce its arrival as a challenger to the MAC throne. This will be DE Dan Bazuin's breakout game coming up with at least two sacks of Akron QB Luke Getsy.
CFN Prediction
: Central Michigan 27 ... Akron 23
... Line: Akron -2.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2.5 

Kansas (2-0) at Toledo (0-2) 12 pm EST ESPN2 Friday, September 15th
Why to watch: Toledo might be the best 0-2 team in the country. After a heartbreaking three-overtime loss to Iowa State, the Rockets inexplicably went into the tank against Western Michigan in a 31-10 loss that'll set them back big-time in the MAC race. The passing game has been there and the offense has the firepower to put up big points, but the losing slide has to stop now. On the flip side, Kansas has been mediocre at best beating Northwestern State and UL Monroe. If you can only beat ULM 21-19, there are issues. KU has bigger fish to fry ahead playing Nebraska in two weeks, so it needs this game and next week's tussle with South Florida to be ready.
Why Kansas might win: Yeah, it only played Northwestern State and UL Monroe, but the KU run defense appears to have reloaded with an aggressive front that's been great at getting into the backfield. Toledo has done next to nothing in the running game relying on Clint Cochran's arm to carry the offense. If he's inconsistent, like he was against Western Michigan, KU will come away with the win.
Why Toledo might win: Under Mark Mangino, Kansas has been awful on the road going just 3-17 with a win over Missouri in 2004, Wyoming in 2003, and Tulsa in 2002. Yeah, Toledo hasn't been able to run the ball, but it has the ability to bomb away if Cochran gets hot. Kansas couldn't handle Kinsmon Lancaster and the mighty Warhawk passing game last week and could get shredded to bits. The KU offense isn't exactly built to put points on the board in a hurry.
Who to watch: Kansas senior RB Jon Cornish has been the offense early on and he'll need to be a steady factor to keep the pressure off new starting QB Kerry Meier. Cornish is a former linebacker with good hands and a nice speed burst. With 243 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games, and 6.75 yard-per-carry average, he has been the team's MVP by far. For the Toledo offense, senior TE Chris Hopkins is making an early case for the Mackey Award after catching 13 passes for 139 yards and three touchdowns against Iowa State and four catches for 100 yards against Western Michigan.
What will happen: How real is Kansas? Toledo is a tough test on the road with too much firepower for the Jayhawks to overcome if this gets into any sort of a shootout. Cochran will find his groove just in time to come away with the win.
CFN Prediction
: Toledo 21 ... Kansas 13
... Line: Toledo -5.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2.5 

Ball State
(1-1) at Purdue (2-0) 1 pm EST Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: It hasn't exactly been a smooth ride, but Purdue is 2-0 and happy to get off to a decent start after a disastrous 2005. Considering how much of an afterthought the team has become on a national scale, it might surprise you that the Boilermakers are going for their sixth win in a row before starting off the Big Ten season against Minnesota. Coming off a tough overtime win over Miami (no, the other one), Purdue needs a confidence booster. Ball State gave Indiana all it could handle and more in a 24-23 loss, and now it would love nothing more than to pull off the shocker against Purdue and give the MAC more street cred.
Why Ball State might win: Allowing 870 yards and 66 points, Purdue's porous defense picked up where it left off last year. The secondary was picked clean last week by Mike Kokal and the RedHawks, and Ball State has just enough of an air attack to light up the Boilermakers like a Christmas tree. If field position turns out to be an issue, BSU has a huge advantage thanks to its punting game. Purdue is 113th in the nation in net punting averaging 24.6 yards per kick, while the Cardinals are 20th averaging 39.18 yards per boot.
Why Purdue might win: There's no reason for Purdue to worry at all about a Ball State running game; there isn't one. Oh sure, it ran for 159 yards on Eastern Michigan, but it averaged 1.9 yards per carry netting 41 yards against Indiana. If Purdue can somehow prevent the big pass play, it should be able to do just enough on defense to allow the improving offense to put this away late in the first half. Curtis Painter should be able to run the option to his heart's content on the BSU linebackers.
Who to watch: Purdue sophomore RB Kory Sheets is quickly growing into one of the Big Ten's most productive backs. With a great blend of speed and power, he has dominated over the first two games rushing for four touchdowns against Ball State and scoring three times against Indiana State. Now he needs the ball more. With only 31 carries so far, he has a lot of tread on the tires and is more than tough enough to handle a bigger workload. Even so, it would be a big plus to be able to keep him fresh for the biggest games ahead.
What will happen: Purdue has yet to put together a complete game. This might be no exception, but it'll pull ahead late to make the final score look worse than the game will be.
CFN Prediction
: Purdue 41 ... Ball State 23
... Line: Purdue -16
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2.5 

Eastern Michigan
(0-2) at Northwestern (1-1) 2 pm EST Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: These two teams are looking to change around their seasons in a real big hurry. Northwestern hit the ground with a resounding thud with a 34-17 loss to D-IAA's New Hampshire. New head coach Pat Fitzgerald is still trying to find his head coaching legs, and even though no one is expecting the Wildcats to do too much this season, the season might go right into the tank if they can't handle the middling Eagles. Eastern Michigan had a nightmare of a time stopping Ball State and Eastern Michigan over the first two weeks, so this has to be the week Northwestern gets its offense going.
Why Eastern Michigan might win: EMU should be able to bomb away at will on the Wildcat secondary. UNH's Ricky Santos completed 18 of 24 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns and ran for three scores, and if healthy, EMU's Tyler Jones should be able to do the same thing. Jones leads the Eagles in rushing and has the potential to come up with a huge day if his injured shoulder isn't a problem.  .
Why Northwestern might win: The Eastern Michigan defense hasn't even come close. It's having equal problems stopping the pass and the run, and while it's generating a little bit of pressure into the backfield, it's not being disruptive enough to make a difference. NU QB Mike Kafka is still trying to get his feet wet, and this is the defense to make a big splash against.
Who to watch: Can Jones go? His banged up shoulder has forced a two-quarterback system with Andy Schmitt, who could end up starting. While Jones is the better player, Schmitt is the better passer. For Northwestern, the big question coming off last week was the absence of Tyrell Sutton late in the game. If didn't get the ball in the fourth quarter choosing to go with Terrell Jordan. Is Fitzgerald trying to send a message to his young star? Soon, Sutton needs to be the workhorse of the attack.
What will happen: Eastern Michigan will get a huge day out of WR Eric Deslauriers, but it won't be nearly enough to overcome the 250 rushing yards the Wildcats will roll up.
CFN Prediction
: Northwestern 38 ... Eastern Michigan 20
... Line: Northwestern -17.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2 

Kent State
(0-2) at Miami University (0-2) 2 pm EST Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: This hasn't exactly been the start to the 2006 season that both teams were hoping for. Miami was looking to at least split its games against Northwestern and Purdue, and came close last week losing 38-31 in overtime in West Lafayette. This should be one of the few easy games on the MAC schedule for the Redhawks, and they must take advantage. Kent State got blasted by Minnesota 44-0 to start the year and then lost a 17-14 heartbreaker to Army. With Bowling Green and Akron ahead, an 0-5 start is likely if it can't pull off the upset here.
Why Kent State might win: The secondary is playing well. Granted, all Minnesota did was run and all Army can do is run, so the stats are a bit misleading. Even so, the Golden Flash secondary did a good job when the Gophers and Black Knights had to throw, and they should prevent Mike Kokal from hanging up a 300+ yard day like he did against Purdue. However ...
Why Miami University might win: ... that Golden Flash run defense really is an issue. Army's anemic attack was able to gain 177 yards, so this should be the game when Austin Sykes, Brandon Murphy, and the RedHawk ground game finally gets going after being held under wraps for the first two weeks. Murphy has the talent to be among the best backs, but he has been sidelined by a sprained ankle. He's expected to play and should have a huge game if he's able to go.
Who to watch: Part of Miami's running problems have come from inconsistent play on the line. The team's best lineman, Charlie Norden, has been limited with a foot injury, while starting guard Matt McKeown has been out with a bad back. They're questionable at best meaning the rest of the RedHawk line might have to be even sharper to finally get some production on the ground.
What will happen: Miami's offense will be balanced and explosive, while the defense will come up with its best performance yet forcing four turnovers in the easy win.
CFN Prediction
Miami 38 ... Kent State 13 ... Line: Miami -10.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2.5 

MAC Week Three Fearless Predictions, Part 2