First-ever #MACtion MVP Chandler Harnish (Photo by Mark A. Cunningham/Getty Images)
Tonight, a (Mid-)American classic returns to weeknight television. No, not another Carson Daly late-night talk show. #MACtion returns to the college football world as Kent State (1-1) travels to the Queen City to take on Buffalo (1-1) in the Mid-American Conference opener for both schools (7pm, ESPNU)
Before we get too far into this story, let's turn to the college football dictionary to get a full definition on #MACtion.
#MACtion (noun) - 1. a hashtag commonly found to trend on Twitter during weeknights in the late fall. 2. an American football matchup held on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday nights which involves two Mid-American Conference teams in a battle of offensive awesomeness, a lack of defensive prowess and several levels of DERPtitude.
We were introduced to this great event last year in Week 10, the first Tuesday night MAC game of the season which pitted Northern Illinois and Toledo against each other. What ensued was a sporting event for the ages.
After sixty minutes of football, 123 points were put on the scoreboard, 1,121 yards of total offense were gained and a MAC-record 17 touchdowns were scored. Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish threw his sixth touchdown pass of the night with 19 seconds left in the game to give the Huskies the win. He threw for 265 yards to go along with his 133 rushing yards. Toledo quarterback Austin Dantin and wide receiver Eric Page connected for five touchdowns, but didn't have enough in the tank at the end to pull out a victory.
It was madness and college football fans from the Big Ten and SEC to the Mountain West and Sun Belt knew they would never watch a conference football game the same ever again.
And while Toledo played the part of Rocky Balboa in the original Rocky to a T against Northern Illinois, they came back and bested that performance by absolutely nailing Rocky Balboa from Rocky II the next Tuesday night as they got up at the count of nine to win the #MACtion Championship of the World, defeating Western Michigan, 66-63.
Bronco quarterback Alex Carder spit on the previous week's performance of Chandler Harnish throwing for 548 yards and seven touchdowns while running for another. Toledo gained 419 yards on the ground after passing failed for them the week before. The DERP factor was top-notch here as the teams combined to turn the ball over 10 different times.
Let's sit back and appreciate that stat. The two teams turned the ball over 10 times and still managed to score 129 points between them in 60 minutes. It truly is the quintessential #MACtion game.
There were others last year. Northern Illinois-Ball State in Week 12, Toledo-Ball State and Western Michigan-Akron in Week 13, and the MAC Championship between Northern Illinois and Ohio (albeit on a Friday night) where the Huskies scored the last 23 points of the game to win the conference.
Some of #MACtion's most-famous tweeters give us their favorites from last year:
Pete (making his triumphant return to BSD for one day only):
It's the easy answer, but my favorite game last year was Northern Illinois and Toledo because look at this box score. It was like two drunk freshmen playing Xbox, but the guy playing defense had to close his eyes. It's the apex of the species, and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise. Additionally, I'll be in attendance for the Kent State-Buffalo game, so follow me on twitter (@runthedive) for the hottest takes, served up hot and on location.
Matt Sussman, manager of the MAC-centric SBNation blog Hustle Belt:
I have a feeling the common answer will be November 1: Northern Illinois 63, Toledo 60, a game so ridiculous it was actually what eventually decided the MAC West champion. That was extremely sensual. But I'll pick the one the next day: OHIO 35, Temple 31, a game that the Owls thought they were destined to win, then didn't, blaming the refs and prompting this post from a lovely little Temple blog, saying "The time to get out of this hick conference is now." Hick conference? Y'all city folk are hollerin' worse than a hog with a thorn in its majigger. Then the school paid the MAC $6 million to leave in March.
Chris Grovich, former BSD overlord:
I'm less of a MAC aficionado and more of a weeknight football lover*, so forgive me for being attracted to SHINY THINGS when it comes to MACtion. However, obvious choice is obvious. Northern Illinois 63, Toledo 60. In regulation, mind you. Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish threw six touchdowns, and freshman Tommylee Lewis returned two first-quarter kickoffs for touchdowns. On the other side, Toledo's Austin Dantin threw five touchdown passes to Eric Page. Each team had a 100-yard rusher. Considering there was only one turnover in the game, it was a Category Five offensive display by both teams. The carnage ended with a nine-play, four-minute drive, as Harnish found Perez Ashford in the end zone with just 19 seconds left. Somehow, it wasn't enough time for Toledo to respond. This was the night MACtion became real for the rest of the nation.
* - Not so fast, Big East. Sit down.
I was also hoping to have Shutdown Fullback co-hosts Jason Kirk and Spencer Hall gives us their favorites, but both got a hold of me saying they were swamped with work. It's understandable with all the mothership is planning currently (spoiler alert) and I want to thank them anyway.
It's impossible to put the right words together to describe your feelings on #MACtion. Euphoric may be the closest you'll be able to come. You have no idea what's going on and know exactly what is going on at the same time. It can be a 20-year old/100-pounds-ago tattoo and a masterpiece of art, or that girl who looks good while sober and the one who looks good after 15 drinks all rolled into one, but, no matter what, you can't look away. It's mesmerizing.
This year, we get a taste of the nectar early with Kent State and Buffalo playing. Enjoy it while you can, though, because after tonight, we have to wait until Week 10 for of its savory goodness once again.
A full schedule for this year's events:
Thursday 11/1: Eastern Michigan at Ohio
Tuesday 11/6: Ball State at Toledo
Wednesday 11/7: Bowling Green at Ohio
Wednesday 11/14: Ohio at Ball State and Toledo at Northern Illinois (!!!!)
Tuesday 11/20: Akron at Toledo (Wooo some birthday #MACtion for me)
Friday 11/23: Thanks to Thanksgiving, we have five Friday games that may contain some #MACtion-like substance:
- Central Michigan at UMass
- Ball State at Miami (OH)
- Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan
- Ohio at Kent State
- Buffalo at Bowling Green (in Columbus, Ohio -- now with more B1G in every serving!)
So sit down and relax, there's college football on your TV on a Wednesday night. Enjoy it like the guy above.
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