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March MACtion 2020: Round Two!
The first round is in the books, now it's time to see if we have more than three upsets as the field shrinks to 16 teams.
Hello friends and welcome back to The Ypsilanti Eleven, and we’re going to play another round of March MACtion 2020. The objective: figure out the best MAC football team of the 2010s.
The first round (of 32) has closed, and thank you to everybody that voted. There was a lot of chalk in that round which was to be expected, but I have a feeling that this round could see some upsets.
RESULTS: ROUND ONE
Very, very chalky with the top eight seeded teams all still in it winning their matchups handily. That’s not to say there weren’t any upsets. #24 2011 Ohio beat #9 2012 Ball State, #19 2014 NIU beat #14 2011 Toledo, and #17 2018 Buffalo beat #16 2014 Toledo, and all advance to the next round.
Number of teams that are still in it, by school: Ball State (1), Bowling Green (2), Buffalo (1), Kent State (1), Northern Illinois (5), Ohio (2), Toledo (2), Western Michigan (2).
Well, uh, I really don’t know what else you want from me on this. It’s a bracket, let’s just get to voting for teams we loved (or teams we hated, whatever). Vote as much as you want, and get your friends in on the competition.
MARCH MACTION 2020: ROUND TWO
PROGRAMMING NOTE: ROUND TWO VOTING RUNS THROUGH WEDNESDAY AT MIDNIGHT. ROUND THREE OPENS THURSDAY.
1 vs. 24: 2016 WMU Broncos (13-1, 8-0) vs. 2011 Ohio Bobcats (10-4, 6-2)
In the 2016 MAC title game, WMU’s Butch Hampton — the kicker! — ended up being the star of the game to take down Ohio 29-23. Hampton made all five of his field-goal tries from 42, 27, 21, 33, and 34 yards out, and 2-for-2 on point-afters. Corey Davis had a huge day (8 catches, 144 yards, 1 TD), but the Bobcat defense refused to get beat on the ground (Jamauri Bogan: 26 att., 78 yards, 0 TD; Jarvion Franklin: 9 att., 13 yards, 0 TD; Combined: 35 att., 91 yards, 2.6 yards per att.). Ohio was also without starting quarterback Greg Windham.
Now, would the 2011 team beat this 2016 WMU team? I have Ohio’s 2011 team as the #24 seed here and the 2016 team at #31, so that’s how I’ll answer that question. Would it be good enough to close a six-point gap between itself and maybe beat the best MAC team of the decade? Maybe?
2016 WMU Broncos (13-1, 8-0)
MAC Champions (won 29-23 over Ohio)
All-MAC players (12): QB Zach Terrell, RB Jarvion Franklin, WR Corey Davis (Offensive Player of the Year), TE Donnie Ernsberger, OL Chukwuma Okorafor, OL John Keenoy, OL Taylor Moton, LB Asantay Brown, LB Robert Spillane, CB/KR/PR Darius Phillips (Special Teams Player of the Year), DB Keion Adams, DB Justin Ferguson
Coach of the Year: P.J. Fleck
More wins: 22-21 at Northwestern, 34-10 at Illinois, 49-31 vs. Georgia Southern, 55-35 vs. Toledo, 45-30 vs. NIU
Only loss: 24-16 vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (Cotton Bowl)
2011 Ohio Bobcats (10-4, 6-2)
MAC East Champions (lost 23-20 to NIU in Championship)
All-MAC players (11): QB Tyler Tettleton, RB/KR Donte Harden, WR Lavon Brazill, OL A.J. Strum, OL Joe Flading, OL Eric Herman, K Matt Weller (Special Teams Player of the Year), DL Tremayne Scott, LB Noah Keller, DB Travis Carrie
Key wins: 24-23 vs. Utah State (Potato Bowl) 44-7 vs. Marshall, 17-10 vs. Kent State, 35-31 vs. Temple
Losses: 38-26 at Rutgers, 38-37 at Buffalo, 23-20 vs. Ball State
8 vs. 17: 2012 Kent State Golden Flashes (11-3, 8-0) vs. 2018 Buffalo Bulls (10-4, 7-1)
This would be an incredible matchup.
In 2012, NIU had to keep trying to fend off Kent State, but the Flashes rallied from being down 27-13 into the fourth quarter to fall short 44-37 in two overtimes. In 2018, Buffalo was cruising with a 29-10 lead late in the third quarter until NIU fought back for another comeback MAC title win 30-29.
If these two teams had to play today, it’d probably be an even matchup. Kent State had some talent on that roster with #speed out of Dri Archer in two phases of the game, the defense was tough up front, which would be necessary against Buffalo’s offensive line, which didn’t allow a sack until halfway through the season. Plus, people like to see what Tyree Jackson can do with the threats he had at receiver.
2012 Kent State Golden Flashes (11-3, 8-0)
MAC East Champions (lost 44-37 [2OT] to NIU in MAC Championship)
All-MAC players (9): RB/KR Dri Archer (Special Teams Player of the Year), RB Trayion Durham, OL Josh Kline, OL Brian Winters, DL Roosevelt Nix, DL Jake Dooley, LB Luke Batton, LB C.J. Malauulu, DB Luke Wollet
MAC Coach of the Year: Darrell Hazell
Key wins: 35-23 at No. 18 Rutgers, 31-17 at Army, 45-43 vs. Ball State, 28-6 vs. Ohio, 31-24 at BGSU
Losses: 47-14 at Kentucky, 17-13 vs. Arkansas State (GoDaddy.com Bowl)
2018 Buffalo Bulls (10-4, 7-1)
MAC East Champions (lost 30-29 to NIU in MAC Championship)
All-MAC players (11): QB Tyree Jackson (Offensive Player of the Year), RB Jaret Patterson (Freshman of the Year), WR Anthony Johnson, WR/PR K.J. Osborn, TE Tyler Mabry, OL James O’Hagan, OL Evin Ksiezarczyk, DE Chuck Harris, LB Khalil Hodge, DB Cameron Lewis
MAC Coach of the Year: Lance Leipold
Key wins: 36-29 at Temple, 35-28 vs. EMU, 42-13 at Rutgers, 31-17 at Toledo, 51-42 vs. Miami, 44-14 at BGSU
Losses: 42-13 vs. Army, 52-17 at Ohio, 42-32 vs. Troy (Dollar General Bowl)
2 vs. 10: 2012 NIU Huskies (12-2, 8-0) vs. 2018 Ohio Bobcats (9-4, 6-2)
Ohio not making the MAC Championship in 2017 because of a bad loss to Akron was already bad enough. Ohio had another chance with Nathan Rourke, only a junior, and all of the other returners on both sides of the ball to finally get the job done. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, a 30-28 loss to Miami at home would keep their fans waiting for another try next year. Miami finished the year 6-6 and had the same MAC record (6-2) as Ohio.
2012 NIU Huskies (12-2, 8-0)
MAC Champions (won 44-37 [2OT] over Kent State)
All-MAC players (7): QB Jordan Lynch (Vern Smith Award, Offensive Player of the Year), WR Martel Moore, OL Tyler Loos, DL Sean Progar, DL Alan Baxter, LB Tyrone Clark, S Jimmie Ward
Key wins: 30-23 vs. Kansas, 55-24 vs. CMU, 35-23 at Ball State, 31-24 vs. Toledo
Losses: 18-17 vs. Iowa (at Soldier Field), 31-10 vs. No. 13 Florida State (Orange Bowl)
Finished No. 22 in the AP Poll, No. 24 in Coaches
2018 Ohio Bobcats (9-4, 6-2)
Tied for second in MAC East w/ Miami
All-MAC players (8): QB Nathan Rourke, RB A.J. Ouellette, WR Papi White, OL Joe Anderson, OL Joe Lowery, OL Durrell Wood, LB Evan Croutch, DB Javon Hagan, P Michael Farkas
Key wins: 27-0 vs. San Diego State (Frisco Bowl), 59-14 at WMU, 52-17 vs. Buffalo, 52-14 vs. Ball State, 58-42 vs. UMass, 49-28 vs. Akron
Losses: 45-31 vs. Virginia (at Vanderbilt, because of the hurricane), 34-30 at Cincinnati, 24-21 at NIU, 30-28 at Miami
7 vs. 15: 2013 NIU Huskies (12-2, 8-0) vs. 2015 WMU Broncos (8-5, 6-2)
This 2015 Western team played up to its competition, but it probably wasn’t at the level that this NIU team was at. Rod Carey took over a team that went to the Orange Bowl the year before (he was interim coach), and Jordan Lynch was third in Heisman voting that year. Still, this Bronco team put a scare into just about everybody that had to play against them.
2013 NIU Huskies (12-2, 8-0)
MAC West Champions (lost 47-27 to BGSU in MAC Championship)
All-MAC players: QB Jordan Lynch (Vern Smith Award, Offensive Player of the Year), WR Da’Ron Brown, Tommylee Lewis, OL Tyler Loos, OL Jared Volk, DL Ken Bishop, DL Joe Windsor, LB Jamaal Bass, S Jimmie Ward, DB Dechane Durante
MAC Coach of the Year: Rod Carey
Key wins: 30-27 at Iowa, 55-24 at Purdue, 48-27 vs. Ball State, 35-17 at Toledo, 38-24 at Kent State
Other loss: 21-14 vs. Utah State (Poinsettia Bowl)
2015 WMU Broncos (8-5, 6-2)
MAC West Co-champs (tied w/ three)
All-MAC players (10): QB Zach Terrell, RB Jamauri Bogan (Freshman of the Year), WR Corey Davis, WR Daniel Braverman, OL Willie Beavers, OL Taylor Moton, DB/KR Darius Phillips, DB Asantay Brown, DB Ronald Zamort, K Andrew Haldeman
Key wins: 35-30 at No. 24 Toledo, 41-39 vs. CMU, 49-14 at Ohio, 45-31 vs. Middle Tennessee (Bahamas Bowl)
Losses: 37-24 vs. No. 5 Michigan State, 43-17 at Georgia Southern, 38-12 at No. 1 Ohio State, 41-27 vs. BGSU, 27-19 at NIU
3 vs. 11: 2015 BGSU Falcons (10-4, 7-1) vs. 2011 NIU Huskies (11-3, 7-1)
For as threatening Bowling Green’s offense was in 2015, NIU in 2011 put up point totals of 63, 51, 49, 47 (vs. FCS Cal Poly), 45, 40, and 38.
Both of these teams had that year’s Vern Smith Leadership Award winner and Offensive Player of the Year at quarterback, the receivers on both sides had a lot of talent, the offensive lines were good, and neither defense had too many flaws.
2015 BGSU Falcons (10-4, 7-1)
MAC Champions (won 34-14 over NIU)
All-MAC players (11): QB Matt Johnson (Vern Smith Award, Offensive Player of the Year), RB Travis Greene, WR Roger Lewis, WR Gehrig Dieter, WR Ronnie Moore, OL Alex Huettel, OL Jacob Bennett, LB Austin Valdez, LB Trent Greene, P Joe Davidson, PR Ryan Burbrink
Key wins: 48-27 at Maryland, 35-28 at Purdue, 41-27 at WMU, 62-38 vs. UMass, 48-0 at Kent State
Losses: 59-30 at No. 25 Tennessee, 44-41 vs. Memphis, 44-28 vs. Toledo, 58-27 vs. Georgia Southern (GoDaddy Bowl)
2011 NIU Huskies (11-3, 7-1)
MAC Champions (won 23-20 over Ohio)
All-MAC players (9): QB Chandler Harnish (Vern Smith Award, Offensive Player of the Year), RB Jasmin Hopkins, WR Perez Ashford, WR Nate Palmer, OL Scott Wedige, OL Trevor Olson, DL Sean Progar, S Jimmie Ward, K Mathew Sims
More wins: 63-60 at Toledo, 41-38 vs. Ball State, 45-14 at BGSU, 51-22 vs. WMU, 18-12 vs. EMU, 47-30 vs. Kent State, 38-20 vs. Arkansas State (GoDaddy Bowl)
Losses: 45-42 at Kansas, 49-7 vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (Soldier Field), 48-41 at CMU
6 vs. 19: 2017 Toledo Rockets (11-3, 7-1) vs. 2014 NIU Huskies (11-3, 7-1)
The quarterback battle here: Logan Woodside vs. Drew Hare. Hare was a strong replacement for Lynch, but how do you follow up with a Heisman hopeful in the MAC? As a sophomore, Hare was 194-for-326 passing (59.5%) with 18 TD and 2 INT: a ratio you can build a playbook around. He was also light with his feet with 900 rushing yards, 8 TD. Woodside was a bigger passing threat and Toledo was very content in letting him just sling it downfield time and time again. In Woodside’s two final years with the team, he threw the ball 829 times for 8,011 yards (9.7 Y/A), had 73 TD and 17 INT.
2017 Toledo Rockets (11-3, 7-1)
MAC Champions (won 45-28 over Akron)
All-MAC players (9): QB Logan Woodside (Vern Smith Award, Offensive Player of the Year), RB Terry Swanson, WR/PR/KR Diontae Johnson, OL Elijah Nkansah, OL Brant Weiss, DL Ola Adeniyi, K Jameson Vest
MAC Coach of the Year: Jason Candle
More wins: 48-21 vs. Akron (regular season), 37-17 vs. NIU, 30-10 at CMU, 20-15 vs. EMU, 37-10 vs. WMU
Losses: 52-30 at No. 14 Miami-FL, 38-10 at Ohio, 34-0 vs. Appalachian State (Dollar General Bowl)
2014 NIU Huskies (11-3, 7-1)
MAC Champions (51-17 over BGSU)
All-MAC players (10): RB Cameron Stingily, WR Da’Ron Brown, OL Andrew Ness, OL Tyler Loos, DL Perez Ford, DL Jason Meehan, LB Boomer Mays, LB Rasheen Lemon, DB Paris Logan, DB Dechane Durante
More wins: 27-24 vs. Toledo, 21-14 at Ohio, 31-21 at WMU, 23-15 at Northwestern
Losses: 52-14 at Arkansas, 34-17 vs. CMU, 52-23 vs. Marshall (Boca Raton Bowl)
4 vs. 12: 2013 BGSU Falcons (10-4, 7-1) vs. 2013 Ball State Cardinals (10-3, 7-1)
Our first same-year matchup of the bracket, and lucky for us: it’s not a game that actually happened! But imagine for a second that Ball State ended up beating NIU on the road instead of losing by 21. Maybe that last part doesn’t sweeten the pot too much, but just imagine the stage anyways. Bowling Green’s defense (15.9 points allowed avg.) led by an outgoing Dave Clawson vs. Ball State’s offense in its prime with Keith Wenning throwing it to Willie Snead. Could the Cardinals pull of this sort of upset?
2013 BGSU Falcons (10-4, 7-1)
MAC Champions (47-27 over NIU)
All-MAC players (10): RB Travis Greene, TE Alex Bayer, OL Chief Kekuewa, OL Alex Huettel, OL Dominic Flewellyn, DL Ted Ouellet, LB D.J. Lynch, LB Gabe Martin, DB BooBoo Gates, PR Ryan Burbrink
More wins: 49-0 vs. Ohio, 24-7 vs. Buffalo, 31-14 vs. Akron
Losses: 42-10 at Indiana, 21-20 at Mississippi State, 28-25 vs. Toledo, 30-27 vs. Pitt
2013 Ball State Cardinals (10-3, 7-1)
Second in MAC West
All-MAC players (13): QB Keith Wenning, RB Jahwan Edwards, WR Willie Snead, WR Jordan Williams, WR/KR/PR Jamill Smith, TE Zane Fakes, OL Jacob Richard, OL Jordan Hansel, DL Jonathan Newsome, DL Nate Ollie, LB Ben Ingle, DB Jeff Garrett, K Scott Secor
Key wins: 31-24 vs. Toledo, 44-24 vs. CMU, 48-27 at Virginia, 42-24 at Akron
Losses: 34-27 at North Texas, 48-27 at No. 20 NIU, 23-20 vs. Arkansas State (GoDaddy Bowl)
5 vs. 13: 2010 NIU Huskies (11-3, 8-0) vs. 2015 Toledo Rockets (10-2, 6-2)
If there’s no NIU vs. Toledo, is it even #MACtion?
2010 NIU Huskies (11-3, 8-0)
MAC West Champions (lost 26-21 to Miami in Championship)
All-MAC players (13): QB Chandler Harnish, RB Chad Spann (Vern Smith Award, Offensive Player of the Year), WR Landon Cox, TE Jason Schepler, OL Scott Wedige, OL Trevor Olson, OL Joe Pawlak, DL Jake Coffman, DL Sean Progar, LB Devon Butler, LB Alex Kube, DB Chris Smith, KR Tommy Davis
Key wins: 34-23 at Minnesota, 65-30 vs. Toledo, 40-17 vs. Fresno State (Humanitarian Bowl), 31-17 vs. Temple, 28-21 at WMU
Losses: 27-10 at Iowa State, 28-22 at Illinois
2015 Toledo Rockets (10-2, 6-2)
MAC West Co-champs (tied w/ three)
All-MAC players (10): RB Kareem Hunt, RB Terry Swanson, WR Alonzo Russell, OL Storm Norton, DL Orion Jones, DL Allen Covington, DL Trent Voss, DB Cheatham Norrils, DB DeJuan Rogers, PR Corey Jones
Coach of the Year: Matt Campbell
Key wins: 16-12 at No. 18 Arkansas, 30-23 [OT] vs. Iowa State, 37-7 vs. Arkansas State, 28-23 at CMU, 44-28 at BGSU, 32-17 vs. No. 24 Temple (Boca Raton Bowl)
Losses: 32-27 vs. NIU, 35-30 vs. WMU