Stay calm, all: This season’s not over yet

Brock Harrington

In the first week of the college football season, Bowling Green defeated Pittsburgh in a stunning 27-17 win. This past weekend, Ohio nearly had the biggest upset in the history of the Mid-American Conference after leading Ohio State for three quarters.

And then Kent State lost to its much-less-heralded Bowl Championship Series team, Iowa State, 48-28.

“Fire Doug Martin,” I read on the live blog during Saturday’s game in Ames, Iowa.

“How is a fan base ever going to build if the team is this bad?” was the gist of one person’s argument.

I read these comments and I had to ask, “Seriously?”

Iowa State is not USC, despite looking exactly like the Trojans, but the Cyclones are still from arguably the second toughest conference in college football (behind the Southeastern Conference). The talent level is still Big XII-worthy. The Cyclones probably have the most distinguished defensive staff the Flashes will see all year. Iowa State coach Gene Chizik was the defensive coordinator for Texas in its 2006 National Championship year and for Auburn’s impressive SEC championship season in 2004.

But it doesn’t matter. Kent State should have outclassed, outperformed and embarrassed the Cyclones because that team is a Big XII doormat and Kent State is a MAC contender this year and has equal talent.

Again: “Seriously?”

Kent State had the most difficult task in college football: being a mid-major team and making a return trip to the larger school’s stadium, just one year after said mid-major team defeated that same large school.


Well, look at it this way: If Bowling Green played Pitt at Heinz Field next season, would Pitt underestimate the Falcons? If fans were paying attention over the weekend, Minnesota didn’t overlook Bowling Green.

Is Ohio State going to overlook Toledo in 2009?

The Flashes had to drive the ball uphill both ways in the snow with no shoes on and 49,805 fans cheering against them Saturday. And the Cyclone coaches knew this.

Iowa State knew Julian Edelman suffers from fumblitis after watching 2007. They knew the Flashes played mainly zone coverage schemes. And they attacked them.

And you know what? Kent State played with the Cyclones right up until Edelman’s last fumble on the goal line, which was impressive considering the atmosphere in Jack Trice Stadium.

However, the Flashes couldn’t stop the Cyclones for 75 percent of the game. Whether it was the two quarterbacks running all over the Flashes or senior R.J. Sumrall catching everything, the Cyclones were better in this game then last season. And the Flashes still hung with this team.

Did the criticizing fans think the same Iowa State team from game one of 2007 was suiting up? Is that why they had unrealistic expectations?

During the summer when I was examining this game, I noticed the Big XII North was one of the best divisions in all of college football. Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado all had good offensive seasons in 2007. Add in Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma from the Big XII South and Iowa State probably played against more Pro Bowl-caliber offensive players in 2007 than the Cleveland Browns.

But that doesn’t matter. Kent State lost by 20 points. The offense struggled for the second week in a row. The defense gave up easy rushing yards, just as it did against Boston College.

Well, here’s why fans should cheer up: These aren’t MAC games. These aren’t community colleges the Flashes are playing. Iowa State isn’t recruiting to compete with Kent State, it’s recruiting to compete with No. 3 Oklahoma.

These aren’t games Kent State fans should worry about. They should worry about Temple, Northern Illinois and Buffalo (considering the Flashes beat a BCS school in 2007 and not the Bulls).

If Kent State turns the ball over in the red zone against Temple, as it did this weekend, then Kent State coach Doug Martin should be on a 192 degree hot seat and Edelman should be torn apart.

Last year, the injuries were an excuse, but if they stay healthy, then the Flashes should win some MAC games. They are more balanced than half the conference. They have a running back, junior Eugene Jarvis, who is arguably the most dominant offensive player in the MAC. They should win games … in the MAC.

Does a 20 point loss to a BCS school look bad? Of course. But the Flashes still scored 28 points. Bowling Green losing to the worst team in the Big Ten 42-17 is embarrassing, along with Toledo losing to Arizona 41-16.

But at the end of the season, Bowling Green fans won’t care how many turnovers they had (five) against the Golden Gophers if they are playing in Detroit in early December.

So is Martin disappointed? He said he was after the game. Will he lose sleep after seeing his senior leader fumble in critical times during a September game? Of course he will. But Martin will be an insomniac if his team is turning the ball over in October.

Contact sports editor Brock Harrington at [email protected].