Roosevelt Nix says it hit him on the ride home. He was on a JetBlue flight out of Newark with his Kent State teammates and a bunch of guys started yelling, "Turn the channel!" He quickly jabbed at his armrest console and there was his team, Kent State, beating Rutgers, on the highlights.
"That was something new," he says, laughing.
The Golden Flashes beat a ranked team last weekend for the first time ever – the program played its first game in 1920 – shocking unbeaten and 18th-ranked Rutgers 35-23. Kent State has won five straight for the first time since 1940, and its seven wins are fifth-most in school history.
The crazy thing is, Kent State is only one of several surprises in its conference. The unheralded MAC, once a collection of whipping boys for Big Ten powers, has six bowl eligible teams and four one-loss teams (Ohio, Toledo, Northern Illinois and Kent State). A conference virtually ignored by realignment is now the most improved in the nation. By the end of October, MAC teams had 16 wins over non-conference FBS opponents.