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2013 MAC blogger roundtable, week 3

September 11, 2013

It’s time for the week 3 MAC Blogger Roundtable. Each week one of the bloggers covering the MAC (links are on the right sidebar) poses several questions, to be answered by the others. This week’s host is Hustle Belt, whence “Brown and Gold” offers the following posers.

1. With Bowling Green’s strong showing last week against defending MAC East Champs Kent State, they recently were bumped up to the top of our power rankings over NIU. Would you put BGSU (or any other team) ahead of the Huskies right now? Why or why not?

There are three undefeated teams in the Mid-American Conference, and all three of them have looked pretty good so far. One or two games isn’t much to base a ranking on, but if I had to choose now, I’d say that Bowling Green has won much more convincingly than Northern Illinois or Ball State, and looks like the more complete team. Luckily for them, the Falcons don’t have either the Huskies or the Cardinals on their regular season schedule, so at most they’ll face just one of them in the MAC Championship Game in Detroit.

2. There appears to be a huge chasm between the top of the MAC (NIU, BG, BSU, Ohio, UT) and the bottom (CMU, WMU, EMU, MU, UMass, Akron) with Kent State and Buffalo leaning more towards the top. Do you think this is good or bad for the MAC? Do you see things possibly evening out at all?

Although, of course, as an EMU fan, I can’t say I enjoy it, I do think having a big gap between the top and the bottom is good for the conference. As I argued a couple weeks ago, the quality of an athletic conference is usually judged by the top several teams only, not the top-to-bottom performance. So not only does the gap not hurt the conference — it doesn’t matter, or at least doesn’t matter much, how bad the teams at the bottom of the conference are — it’s possible that it helps the conference. In college football, it’s less important to win tough games than it is just to win games. Having that gap makes it more likely that several of the top teams will post double-digit wins for the season, creating more excitement when those teams meet in the MAC Championship game.

Consider last year, when the championship featured Northern Illinois and Kent State, both entering the game with 11-1 records that had the nationally ranked. Add just one more loss to either of those teams and they would not have been nationally ranked, and with another loss themselves, or without that late win over a ranked team, I think it’s safe to suggest that the Huskies would not have been in the Orange Bowl. Since both teams beat EMU handily last year…you’re welcome, NIU!

3. Even with all of the talk of the “New Association” for the AQ teams, this is still the last year of the BCS. Which team is most poised to crash the BCS, and is this the year the MAC wins a BCS bowl game?

There’s a very real possibility that we could wind up with another one-loss MAC champion, or even an undefeated team, and such a team would have a strong case for a BCS invitation. Both Bowling Green and Northern Illinois have the potential for two wins over AQ-conference teams, and Virginia may be a beatable team for Ball State. Any of those teams, with those wins, as division champions, could be BCS busters, and pairing such teams up in Detroit this year could again give the MAC champion the springboard into the big time.

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