1. There is a definite perception that the MAC has gotten over the slump that set in half way through the last decade. NIU crashed the BCS party, Several MAC teams ranked at different points in the season, and a spell of respectable out of conference wins.
Does what happened in 2012 have some staying power?
That is the real question. I think the MAC did emerge from the slump last year and finally had a good product on the field. At the same time, though, in the past there have been bigger upsets and BCS wins--especially during the last heyday--and there is still some room to grow. To me, the question is whether programs have been set on to a sustainable course, one that can survive after losing star players and coaches. For example, contrast the post-LeFevour/Kelly/Jones CMU Chips with the post-Harnisch/Novak NIU Huskies. In my opinion, OU, Toledo and NIU can be confidently said to have this rolling right now. I think BG and Ball State are in the docket but it would remain to be seen how they would survive a coaching change. Kent is probably in the same boat. Miami should be able to sustain success. As for the others..Buffalo, UMass, Akron, and EMU have never sustained success in this conference and remain question marks until they do. Finally, WMU is a total wild card. PJ Fleck is either the next Urban Meyer or a dangerous lunatic.
2 - On the Bowl Picture - The MAC looks to have four Bowls knotted up (Boise, Mobile, Montgomery, and The Bahamas). There are rumors that a fifth Bowl, likely the replacement to the Little Caesars Bowl, will be coming out soon. How has the MAC front office done?
Look, say what you like about the MAC leadership, but for right now I think they are on a pretty good roll in football. The level of play is higher, we survived conference re-alignment essentially untouched, and the league is maintaining its bowl connections. This last one is a less accomplishment, even if you are willing to admit that the whole system is meshugenah. With so many bowls, they need us. Anyway, I think the MAC leadership is getting results in football.
3 - Ok onto football Which MAC team has the best shot at a meaningful upset this week? Which MAC team is most likely to suffer a shameful loss? Why?
Well, depending on what you mean by meaningful (is it NIU beating Iowa? I wonder). Anyway, I don't believe Buffalo, CMU, WMU and UMASS have real shots. The best shot at a real upset (beating Marshall doesn't count either) is OU at Louisville. I also believe that under the right circumstances, UT has a shot at beating the Gators. As for the ignominious defeat, let's say it would be if Howard beat EMU.
4 - Aside from your team what is the game of the week and why?
Aside from BG and Tulsa (which might be the game of the weekend), I'm going to go with NIU-Iowa. Iowa may not be good, but any win over a Big 10 team is a feather in the MAC's CAP.