2012 Season Wrap Up: The Conspiracy Theory

Mark A. Cunningham

After 8 years of failing to recreate 2003, the MAC took maters into their own hands.

We were finally going to have 14 teams, but then we were back down to 13. As a result the MAC had the chance to reset the schedule however they saw fit for 2012. Did the conference stack the deck to recreate glory days of yore? I say yes, yes they did.

Start here:

Matchups against the Preseason top 3 teams in the MAC West:

OHIO – 0
Miami – 0
Bowling Green – 1
Kent – 1
UMass – 2
Akron – 2
Buffalo – 3

Then go here:

Using the Pre-snap read preseason rankings and the MAC Preseason Poll, we find that the MAC’s top-6 preseason picks occupied the 6 easiest conference schedules

Preseason MAC Rank

Predicted S.O.S

How

10)

EMU

13

The MAC’s projected toughest schedule, their easiest game was supposed to be Ball state. Same schedule as Ball State except instead of getting Miami, they had to face the tougher Bowling Green.

8)

Buffalo

12

2nd hardest schedule, Buffalo & Kent were the only two MAC East teams who didn’t get to play BOTH UMass & Akron (surprise they are the lowest ranked MAC East Teams not named UMass and Akron.) They faced a murderers row in the West missing the bottom 3 (Ball St, EMU & CMU) and getting the top 3, (NIU, WMU, and Toledo), the only MAC East team to face all 3 of the top West teams.

9)

Ball St

11

3rd hardest projected schedule, playing no MAC team ranked over 100th in the nation, which is hard to do in the MAC… In fact, every MAC West team faced 2 of the 3 worst teams in the east (Buffalo, Akron or UMass) except Ball State and EMU who faced NONE of those 3 teams. Ball State had tough matchups against NIU, WMU, Toledo and Ohio.

12)

Akron

10

4th toughest projected schedule, they drew UMass, but paid for it with games against Ohio, Bowling green, NIU and Toledo.

13)

Umass

9

Welcome to the MAC UMass, you now get the projected 5th toughest schedule in the conference despite being newly-FBS and playing a brutal OOC schedule. UMass got competitive games with Akron & Buffalo, but also tough ones against Ohio, NIU, WMU and Bowling Green.

7)

Kent

8

11)

CMU

7

2)

BGSU

6

Same as Miami in division, EMU in the west but schedule toughens with the obligatory rivalry matchup against Toledo

3)

Toledo

5

Faces Buffalo, Ball State, Central and Eastern. Draws Akron from the East.

6)

Western

4

Faces Buffalo, Ball State, Central and Eastern. Also draws UMass and Kent from the East.

4)

Miami

3

3rd easiest facing UMass, Buffalo, Kent and Akron in division and Ball State and CMU in the West.

5)

NIU

2

2nd easiest assumed schedule with: Central, Ball state, Buffalo, Akron and UMass.

1)

Ohio

1

Easiest assumed schedule with: UMass, Buffalo, Akron, and Ball State.

You get the picture, the MAC had the chance to recreate 2003, and they did by manipulating the schedule so the lowly teams faced a gauntlet of talent while the strong teams feasted on cupcakes.

Did it work?

Well that’s a two-part question.

Did the lowly accept their beatings, and keep upsets at a minimum?

And,

Did it enhance the public perception of the conference?

Answering the second question first,

The schedule was made for Ohio, Miami and Bowling Green in the East and NIU, Western and Toledo in the West.

It worked for Ohio, until injuries, general Solichness and Miami ruined their party.

The MAC then got lucky. They had a slew of potential upsets brewing between Miami, Bowling Green, Ohio and Kent. But Ohio and Miami raised the white flag, setting up a Bowling Green v. Kent State semifinal. Kent won, and should be ranked going into the MAC Championship game.

In the West, it worked for NIU who steamrolled through their schedule, it worked for Toledo setting up the MAC game of the century on primetime between NIU and Toledo. WMU didn’t show up, and the only fly in the ointment was Ball State who had the audacity to upset Toledo.

Surprises – Obviously Ball State, going 5-2 on what was supposed to be the 3rd toughest schedule and Kent State going 7-0 on the 6th toughest.

Back to the first question:

Did the MAC successfully manipulate the schedule to give their good teams the easiest conference schedules? Yes

NIU and Ohio schedules proved as easy as the MAC planned, Ohio just couldn't convert.

Is Kent's turnaround do to great play or the fact that their difficult schedule turned out to be quite easy? If they fall flat in the next two weeks and in the Bowl game, I think we'll see the power scheduling has over MAC success.

Western and Miami underachieved but their easy schedules proved to be harder than they thought.

Bowling Green the #2 team in the East retained an easy schedule and played well. CMU's coach meanwhile should probably be fired for failing to convert with the schedule they were presented with.

Finally, Ball State, you have to give them respect 5th toughest schedule, and they just kept winning tough games.

Using the Coley Matrix rankings…

Predicted S.O.S.

Actual S.O.S

How

1)

EMU

1

Every team EMU faced is ranked 100 or lower. Ball State and EMU are the only teams not to face Buffalo, Akron or UMass. The projected easy game was Ball State, and they went ahead and won most of their games. The average rank of EMU’s conference opponents 51.5, the average rank of NIU’s 88.

2)

Buffalo

3

The only saving grace was WMU didn’t play up to top 3 in West status. Avoiding Ball State pulls them down to 3.

3)

Ball St

5

Wasn’t supposed to play any team ranked over 100, but EMU and WMU ruined that…Miami’s slide helped as well.

4)

Akron

2

Akron Played more teams ranked under 35 (3) than teams ranked over 90 (2) That’s not fair.

5)

Umass

8

Schedule softened when they missed out on Kent.

6)

Kent

12

Didn’t have to play Kent. Miami slipped, tough game vs WMU ended up not tough, didn’t have to play Toledo or NIU.

7)

CMU

9

Started tough with NIU, Toledo and Ball st, ended soft with Akron, Umass, Eastern, Western and Miami.

8)

BGSU

11

Got UMass, Buffalo, Akron, avoided NIU with Toledo rivalry, also played last place West team, EMU.

9)

Toledo

7

Schedule toughened when we found out Ball State and NIU are better than TU.

10)

Western

4

Still faced Umass, Akron and EMU. But ran into Toledo, NIU, Kent and Ball State.

11)

Miami

6

Kent got good, Ball State got good, Buffalo and CMU a little better than we thought. The cupcake schedule hardened fast.

12)

NIU

13

Only played two opponents ranked under 81, played the 5 worse MAC teams. Was not scheduled to play Kent a predicted bad team that played well.

13)

Ohio

10

Schedule was strengthened by Kent first 5 MAC games were against 5 of 6 lowest ranked MAC teams.

How would the Bulls have done with Ohio, or Bowling Green's schedule? Sadly we'll never know. What we can do is beat Bowling Green and send a message to the fat cats in Cleveland!

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