By Mark Shugar The Post
Athens, OH (U-WIRE) -- With the first action of the 2005 NCAA football season in the history books, it is safe to say that Akron had the Mid-American Conference's best weekend.

The Zips had a bye.

Opening weekend left the MAC with a few black eyes, 10 to be exact, as MAC teams went 1-10 against their opponents. The only team to emerge unscathed was Toledo, destroying Mid-Continent Conference "powerhouse" Western Illinois 62-14. Oh, mighty Leathernecks, tomorrow is another day!

Sure, it might be a little sad that all the MAC has to brag about after opening weekend is that Bowling Green was tied 35-35 with Wisconsin at halftime, but it's a long season and next week MAC teams will not have seven games against Big 10 opponents.

The Big 10 teams played like they should, outscoring their MAC foes 286-114. But, as ESPN kept cutting away from No. 6 Ohio State trouncing Miami (Ohio) to show No. 11 Iowa blowing up a depleted Ball State squad, it eventually started to feel like the MAC was becoming the joke of the day.

Little did I know upon coming to Ohio University that I would not only fall in love with the Bobcats, but the MAC as well. Even when the 'Cats are done for the day, I still find myself rooting for MAC upsets and amazing victories via ESPN's Bottom Line.

I have a few friends -- also big sports fans -- at other MAC schools that share the same philosophy. My phone has rung, both after Bobcat wins and losses, with friends calling to tell me that Ohio looked impressive. These are people who go to Bowling Green and Toledo, football schools and perennial top dogs of the MAC, calling me to congratulate me on a Bobcat win.

They call not to patronize me, but to share in the glory that is a MAC school victory. This response helps me cheer for Bowling Green to embarrass Wisconsin and for Northern Illinois to put the hurt on No. 4 Michigan.





Being a MAC fan is tough when ESPN analysts flock to your side when a team upsets a Top 25 team -- something that Toledo and Bowling Green are more than capable of doing this year -- and then call you overrated the next week for not repeating the feat again.

Despite the wishy-washiness of the sports world, I feel one thing is for certain: the MAC will be the conference that gets the last laugh.

(C) 2004 The Post via U-WIRE