MAC East Race November Outlook
With the turn of the calendar to November, MACtion returns with Tuesday and Wednesday night college football and the MAC suddenly in the spotlight. Here is a look at the current MAC East standings and what to expect in the division race in the final month of the regular season.
Buffalo Bulls 4-0 – Remaining schedule: At Ohio, At Central Michigan, Akron, Kent State
Buffalo has been the top scoring team in the MAC East in a 4-0 conference start and the Bulls are a win away from bowl eligibility. Buffalo has been in the MAC Championship two of the past four seasons but has not won the title since 2008. After slipping to 4-8 in the first season under Maurice Linguist, the Bulls are the top contender in the East thanks to a big late October win over Toledo in one of the season’s toughest games on the schedule. A 6-1 edge in turnovers was a huge factor in that game as Buffalo rallied from a 27-10 deficit in the fourth quarter for an incredible comeback.
Sophomore Cole Snyder has solid numbers leading the offense and the Bulls are a top five MAC offense in both rushing and passing, the only team in the MAC that can say that. Road game the next two weeks in weeknight MAC play will determine the fate of the Bulls with this week’s game at Ohio likely the biggest game of the season in the MAC East race.
Ohio Bobcats 3-1 – Remaining schedule: Buffalo, At Miami OH, At Ball State, Bowling Green
Tim Albin took over for longtime head coach Frank Solich just before the 2021-22 season and the Bobcats had a challenging 3-9 campaign. This year Ohio is in better position, climbing to 5-3 following a 2-3 start to the season. Ohio took an overtime loss in the MAC opener to Kent State, last season’s East champion, as this week’s game with Buffalo will be critical in the division race.
Kurtis Rourke is the MAC’s top rated quarterback with 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions with Ohio the top passing team in the conference, averaging more than 308 passing yards per game. That has been a departure from the typical Ohio offense under Solich and Ohio surprisingly has the worst total defense in MAC play, allowing nearly 510 yards per game. Ohio benefitted from facing a backup quarterback in the win over Northern Illinois while still having a road game at Ball State makes the remaining path difficult for the Bobcats.
Bowling Green Falcons 3-1 – Remaining schedule: Western Michigan, Kent State, At Toledo, At Ohio
The Falcons have not topped four wins since 2015 as the 4-4 start has been encouraging for Bowling Green. Climbing to bowl eligibility in Scot Loeffler’s fourth season might be a stretch however though it appears to likely be a second straight season of improvement. Two of three MAC wins came by slim margins and the Falcons still must face Toledo on the road as well as two of the other MAC East contenders.
Against Buffalo, Bowling Green lost 38-7 at home as the gap between the Falcons and being a serious division contender remains steep despite sitting in a tie for second place in the division right now. The Falcons are 9th in total defense in the MAC and 10th in total offense but quarterback Matt McDonald has good numbers, and he missed the team’s ugly non-conference loss to Mississippi State. A few upsets and a chaos scenario could remain a long shot for Bowling Green in this race, but more likely the Falcons slide in the final month with this week’s game with Western Michigan critical in bowl hopes for the program.
Kent State Golden Flashes 2-2 – Remaining schedule: Ball State, At Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, At Buffalo
The Flashes took back-to-back losses on the road in October MAC games as it will be an uphill battle for Kent State to repeat as East division champions. Kent State is 0-5 on the road this season but the Flashes took on an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule facing Washington, Oklahoma, and Georgia, results which have had an impact on the numbers. Kent State did win head-to-head with Ohio and will get to face Buffalo in the regular season finale as they will have a potential path in the division race, particularly if Ohio beats Buffalo this week.
Kent State has the #1 total offense in the MAC but has the second worst total defense as higher-scoring games are the norm for this group that plays at an up-tempo pace under Sean Lewis in his fifth season with the program. Marquez Cooper is one of the top running backs in the MAC and this would be the group to support in long shot futures options as the Flashes should be favored in the next three games before the finale at Buffalo that could be for the division title if Kent State gets some help with a Buffalo loss along the way.
Miami, OH did beat Kent State and played Buffalo tough as this is a better team than the fifth place 2-3 record indicates, especially now with Brett Gabbert back. Ultimately the Redhawks are effectively relegated to playing spoiler at this point facing Ohio in November and then drawing two MAC West teams.
At 0-5 Akron has been eliminated from the MAC race, though three conference losses have been one-score results as the Zips have made a measure of progress. Two of the final three conference games will be on the road with the home finale in early November against Eastern Michigan.