College Football: #17 Ball State @ Central Michigan Preview

November 18th, 2008

Before getting into a preview of the games on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday, there may be an important development in the BCS. Not who plays in it but which network televises the games. ESPN, according to may sources, is on the verge of acquiring the rights to the BCS from 2011-2014 with Fox unlikely to match their offer. If you're like me, you scratched your head the past few years and wondered why a network that devotes little time to college football during the regular season gets to show the season's biggest games. And you were probably celebrating when you heard the news, even though that means all BCS games other than the Rose Bowl (with a TV deal separate from the rest of the BCS) will be shown on cable. Now on to the two games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tuesday: Northern Illinois @ Kent State 7 PM (no TV)

A college basketball marathon takes precedence over this game between teams looking to end their seasons on a positive note. NIU still needs a win to become bowl eligible, but given the strength of the teams ahead of them in the MAC West Jerry Kill's squad has quite the hill to climb to receive an invitation. Kent State is essentially playing out the string even though they beat Temple last week. The Huskies have the best defense in the MAC, and should do enough to slow down RB Eugene Jarvis and get the victory on the road.

Wednesday: #17 Ball State @ Central Michigan 7 PM on ESPN2

This is the game of the year in the Mid-American Conference, with the Cardinals chasing an undefeated season and conference title. But they're on the road in this one, which is fitting since the road to the MAC crown should go through Mount Pleasant. Butch Jones' Chippewas are the defending champions, and they've got Dan LeFevour back at quarterback after he missed time due to injury. But in Nate Davis, the Cardinals have one of the nation's most prolific passers and the odd-on favorite to unseat LeFevour as conference Player of the Year. This is the first game of a tough two-game swing to end the year for the Cardinals, who host Western Michigan on the 25th. As powerful as Ball State has been on offense this season, this is the game where they get tripped up. Central Michigan wins this one and moves one step closer to defending their MAC title.

Houston named FWAA/Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week.

That tends to happen when you hang seventy on a ranked opponent. Thanks to their 70-30 win over then-#23 Tulsa, the Cougars were named National Team of the Week by the Football Writers Association of America and Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Also nominated were Florida (56-6 win over South Carolina), Northwestern (21-14 win over Michigan) and Vanderbilt (31-24 win at Kentucky; bowl-eligible for the first time since 1982).

Two more coaches were fired on Monday, and one unexpectedly resigned.

The unlucky two are Greg Robinson (Syracuse) and Brent Guy (Utah State). Neither was a surprise, given their records and the coals being stirred under their seats when the season began. That's the complete opposite of Rocky Long, who decided to resign as the head coach at New Mexico after eleven seasons in Albuquerque. Long leaves UNM with a record of 65-69, but that record doesn't tell the full story of what he did at his alma mater. The Lobos were traditionally a tough out under Long, with this season's 4-8 record being the exception rather than the rule.