And we end our Thanksgiving respite as time expires on the Mid-American Conference season, or before all the teams get bushwhacked in bowl games. So essentially this will be as fun as it gets. What timing!
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4
8 p.m. — Central Michigan (10-2, 8-0) vs. Ohio (9-3, 7-1) at Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan, ESPN2
I don't think I speak on an island when I say I was rather looking forward to a CMU-Temple championship game. With each passing week, I'd look at Temple and think "okay, this is the game they lose," and it never happened until last week, when I was already up to my neck in fervor. It would've had all the makings of a great game to see two division winners go undefeated through the conference. But this isn't bad either.
Dan LeFevour's senior year for CMU couldn't have gone better, except for two naughty-looking losses to Arizona and Boston College. They really did roll through the conference, though, winning by an average margin of 22 points, with the only single-digit victory being a 7-point one at Buffalo. They're first in offense (34.25 points/game). They're first in defense (17.83). And they're playing the game in Michigan. Game over.
Wait, I'm supposed to build this game up and demonstrate that "it's anyone's game." Fine.
Ohio could nab the championship because, as I've said all along, they're an irritating team. They have one of the nation's best turnover margins (+14), and wide receiver LaVon Brazill has returned three punts for touchdowns (against pretty decent teams, too: BGSU, NIU, Kent State). So the big play is usually on their side.
But there's a reason CMU won 10 games. They hog the big plays all for themselves. Last year's MAC Championship was an upset (Buffalo over No. 12 Ball State), but not on this night.
Ohio's last 10-win season was 1968. The Chips have never seen 11 wins. Smart money's on the latter happening for the first time. CMU 38, Ohio 28