Week Two in the MAC features three games, all of which look like they could produce an intriguing result. Central Michigan travels to Bowling Green, Cincinnati is at Miami and Northern Illinois visits Western Michigan.
The latter game features two 0-1 teams who feel like they could, and maybe should, be 1-0. The Huskies lost by just seven to Cincinnati last week, and the Broncos by just six to Bowling Green. Whoever loses this game will be facing an uphill battle to be relevant in the playoff race the rest of the season, so it’s almost like a postseason game in early September.
In Bowling Green, the Falcons will still be trying to avoid their first-ever MAC loss. BGSU is not as strong as it has been the last several seasons, and Central could be on the ascent.
“They have always traditionally been way better athletes than Bowling Green, but they didn’t have a true coach, so they were playing like 15 individuals rather than like one team,” said Bowling Green’s Roger Mazzarella of Central Michigan. “But now they’ve got a coach, and I think they’re going to be a lot better this year.”
The Miami-Cincinnati match pits an assistant coach against his former head coach. Cincinnati’s Mark Heidrich, now in his second season with the Bearcats, used to coach under Miami’s Jared Moore. There’s no shortage of mutual respect between these coaches.
“I think they’re significantly improved. I think they’re going to surprise some people. Heidrich’s done a lot of good things down there,” said Moore of Cincinnati. “He’s changed the culture. He’s had a lot of good guys buy into the system and buy into the culture.”
Cincinnati is a team on the rise. The Bearcats are 3-0 with non-conference wins over Xavier and Vanderbilt, and a conference upset of Northern Illinois. Miami is a team trying to rebuild. The Reds were one of the best teams in the Midwest just a few seasons ago, and they’re working hard to get back to that point.
“We really said ‘What’s going on here?’ And the guys have bought into the system, and now it’s just a matter of executing and seeing if all the hard work’s paid off now,” Moore said.
There are some veteran Reds who remember the good times, like prop Conor Mathews and hooker Kyle Sear. They’ll be instrumental in putting Miami back on the winning track.
This game is also a bit of a rivalry game, which will add fuel to the fire.
“Miami-UC, it’s always a physical game because of the history and the proximity between the two,” said Moore. “It won’t be easy. I can guarantee that.”