The big MAC attack is finally over. A long trip through mostly Mid-American Conference territory allowed me to see a number of local products playing Division I-A football.

It also featured a handful of moments that time and/or space limitations did not allow me to focus on.

With that in mind, here’s a recap of the trip, which put nearly 1,300 miles on my vehicle and ended with a 22-hour Thanksgiving odyssey that started in Ohio, journeyed to West Virginia and finally ended at home in Pennsylvania.

The good: Todd Koenig’s interception. The third-quarter pick was one of the few bright spots for Ohio University in 38-7 loss to Miami (Ohio). The sophomore safety from Nanty Glo finished the season with 77 tackles, which ranked second on the team.

“I think he’s had a very good year,” first-year Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “He’s fairly young in our system.”

The bad: The ending to LaRod Stephens-Howling’s freshman season at Pitt. The diminutive

running back ended up leading the Panthers in rushing and was the most one of the most electrifying players on the team. Unfortunately, his finished on a sour note, as two fumbles proved costly in a 45-13 loss at West Virginia.

“LaRod’s going to be a great player,” Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. “(Thursday) was a tough day for him, but he’ll be a heck of a player.”

The ugly: The hit that knocked Andrew Hawkins out of Toledo’s win over Bowling Green. The wideout from Bishop McCort took a nasty-looking shot to the head from Falcons defensive back Terrill Mayberry and was forced to miss the end of the Rockets’ double-overtime victory. Toledo officials would not release Hawkins’ status, but McCort coach Ken Salem said Friday that Hawkins had suffered a mild concussion.



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The good: West Virginia’s victory over Pitt. Bedford graduate Damien Crissey and the Mountaineers (9-1) can now lock up the Big East title, and the accompanying Bowl Championship Series berth, with a win at South Florida on Dec. 3

The bad: Marshall’s collapse against East Carolina. Portage graduate Brian Shope, who is out with a knee injury, could only watch from the sideline as the Thundering Herd gave up 17 fourth-quarter points in a 34-29 defeat that ensured Marshall’s first losing season in more than two decades.

The ugly: Ohio’s fans in the loss to Miami. The game did not get out of hand until the fourth quarter, although few in Athens knew it. Most of the 9,908 fans in attendance disappeared shortly after the Bobcats’ popular marching band performed at halftime.



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The good: Toledo’s thrilling victory over Bowling Green. Two of the MAC’s top quarterbacks battled it out, with Toledo’s Bruce Gradkowski getting the last laugh as his 22-yard touchdown pass in the second overtime gave the Rockets a 44-41 victory over Omar Jacobs and the Falcons.

The bad: Pitt’s run defense. West Virginia’s spread offense shredded the Panthers for 451 yards on the ground.

“Please tell me that is a record against Pitt,” Wannstedt said. “I mean, it can’t get worse than that.”

Unfortunately, for Pitt, it has.

The ugly: Opportunities for Kent State’s wide receivers. The Golden Flashes’ passing game was almost nonexistent in the blustery conditions in their 35-3 loss to Akron. Kent State quarterback Michael Machen was 4-of-12 passing for just 7 yards.

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