Another week, another chance to swap teams with the MAC. After a fairly cut and dry week in the Big Ten, minus some officiating *ahem* issues, we were able to pinpoint a team that deserved to go over to the MAC. If you'd like to read all about that relegation plus some more of me and Bryan's wonderful banter (plus, you know, Part I to this piece), head over to Hustle Belt now. Otherwise, let's get to it.
Jesse: I was looking through the scores last weekend and the MAC looked... crazy.
Bryan: The MAC needs a new TV commercial. Instead of that creepy one with the family sitting at the diner talking about all the AMAZING accomplishments they had as MACletes, it should just be a live cut in to an insane asylum on bingo night, and then have the moon from the Little Caesars commercial pop in and scream #MACTION! Because that's the image I get in my head when I try to predict the future of MACtion. Pure insanity.
Remember how I had sent Akron to y'all two weeks in a row? Well, I stopped, and suddenly the Zips have lost to Ohio (AWFUL) and Ball State (TERRIBLE). But as easy as it is for me to point at the whole of Ohio and Ball State and tell you how bad they've been, the fact is, on those days, they were solid squads. In Ball State's case, two weeks in a row now it's looked more like the 2013 version than it has since that bowl game in Alabama last December.
Which is why I give you the Ball State Cardinals this week. Basically, it's a straight up swap. One former Ball State coach comes to the MAC, so the current Ball State coach, who has no business coaching in the MAC still-if Hoke can get a job at Michigan, someone should hand Pete Lembo the keys to Alabama-goes B1G tyme on us.
Jesse: I'm sure Iowa is having flashbacks already. Of course, they beat this team, so maybe they're okay with that.
Anyhow, tell me more about the Ball State Robot Cardinals - because that's what their logo looks like, a robot Cardinal. Are they legitimately better than their record indicates or are we starting to get what we get from a crazy season?
Bryan: First: The logo. RIGHT!? It's like some evil cyborg Cardinal sent to destroy Ukraine. It's terrifying. Second: Good team, or bad MAC? A bit of both.
Ball State was really bad for a few weeks there in the middle of the season. Basically, after Iowa, everything went to hell. They lost to Indiana State, at home, a team which hadn't beat the Cardinals since the Cold War was still a thing. Then they proceeded to look somewhat competitive, but mostly inept in losses to Toledo, Army, and WMU. Next thing we know, they switch out the quarterback, Quake Edwards starts eating again, and the team has wins against two of the most talented squads in the MAC and a date with NIU next Wednesday that feels like it could really go BSU's way.
What happened? Well, the cerebral assassin himself, Pete Lembo, figured out the right combination and make his late-blooming team a force to be reckoned with down the stretch.
Jesse: Fair enough. And, if we're being fair to the Cardinals, the sign of how good a team is, is usually how they do as the season progresses. So, I went and looked up the Ball State stats, and they're kind of right in the middle more or less. I think the Big Ten is potentially getting a good deal.
Unfortunately, BSU has to take Michigan's spot in the East, which means that they are going to have to play Ohio State and Michigan State. Fortunately, they also get Indiana. I could see them beating Indiana. Oh, and probably Illinois, but after last weekend, who knows... So tell me, where do you think the Cardinals would end up? Could they compete with the Rutgers/Maryland/Minnesota tier? Or, are we basically just relegating Michigan to get Michigan back?
Bryan: Here's the thing about Ball State: It's a flawed team. The quarterback situation, as good as Jack Milas has looked these past few games, is still a crapshoot. The defense has been mighty porous, even in these wins. But the talent on this team, at least from individual pieces, is exceptional. Jahwan "Quake" Edwards is the active FBS leader in just about every rushing category, even ahead of the robo-back y'all have out there in your Nebraska cornfields. He's a BIG back who runs like a burner. It's a deadly combo.
Jordan Williams is one of the most physically gifted wide receivers in all of college football.
Ben Tate is a linebacker most college teams would die for. But overall, this is a decent football team. Nothing special.
But, and this is key, Pete Lembo is the coach. There's no joke here. He is so far and away the best coach in the MAC. It's honestly disturbing that he's still here. He's smart enough to win Ball State a few games it has no business winning with its current lineup. He wouldn't beat the OSUs and Michigan States of this world, but he'd sure make it interesting.
Jesse: So what you're saying is that Lembo will be coaching at Illinois next season? Because I don't think Beckman will be here and that still seems to be their M.O.
Bryan: Honestly, no. He was very much in the hunt for both the UConn and Wake Forest jobs, so the only logical reason I have for him not being the coach of either of those teams, is he's smart enough to know to wait for the best opportunity, and that neither of those were great opportunities. I'm giving y'all the next great coach. This time you didn't even have to steal him from us.
ICYMI: Last Week's Swap
Jesse: I approve of this transaction then. We give you what is quite possibly the worst coach in the Big Ten (at least on the lower tier) for a great one. I'd say this was a good week for us.
Bryan: A great week, because we've avoided insulting the BSU fans by telling them they'd finish 12th in a conference that's only supposed to have 10 teams.
Oh, and a special announcement: Next week's B1G-MAC swap will be cumilative swap. So unlike these ones we've been doing where we react to the previous week, we're going to look at who's been where before, and do a more realistic relegation/promotion swap before midweek MACtion begins. Enjoy your Saturday football, Jesse.
Jesse: You too. Enjoy that short slate of games. You'll be watching football all week in no time.
Bryan: Just how the lunatics in Cleveland intended it to be.