We'll find out this evening.
Though the outcome of tonight's MAC showdown between the Ohio Bobcats and Bowling Green Falcons has zero effect in determining whether Temple will or will not win the MAC East, it will have an impact on the ways in which the team can or cannot reach the MAC Championship game.
Regardless of what's in store for the Bobcats and Falcons, Temple will need Miami (OH) to beat Ohio U next weekend, in order to have any shot at winning the East. What tonight will determine is just how many other games and teams need to go and work in Temple's favor.
Oh, and we should add that a Miami (OH) loss tonight combined with an Ohio win negates any chance the Owls have of winning the East. So, uh, other than that, here's what we're looking at...
Starting with the more "direct" of the two scenarios, an Ohio loss tonight would move the Bobcats to 4-3 in conference. Another loss to the Miami (OH) Redhawks next week, would drop them to 4-4. In the event Temple wins its only remaining MAC game—a Black Friday meeting with Kent State—the Owls would finish 5-3 and either tie Miami (OH) for the division lead or win the East outright. In the event both teams would finish 5-3, Temple would be on its way to the championship game in Detroit as a result of its head-to-head victory over Miami.
The other scenario would see Temple relying on the not-so-reliable Buffalo Bulls. Should Ohio beat Bowling Green this evening, and lose to Miami next week, there would be a three-way tie atop the division between the Owls, Bobcats and Redhawks (Note: this assumes Miami takes of their own business against Western Michigan tonight). In the event all three finish 5-3, the Owls will need Buffalo to finish ahead of Bowling Green in the MAC East Standings.
Why? Because, believe it or not, the Ohio Bobcats lost to Buffalo 38-37 on October 8.
As the MAC tiebreak rules first consider head-to-head records between the tied teams, all three would remain deadlocked at 1-1. The next tiebreak examines the head-to-head records of the tied teams against the rest of their division opponents in rank order.
Since all three teams have beaten or will have beaten Kent State, the tiebreak would move on to the next team on the list. All three teams have also beaten the Akron Zips, so they bear no difference here. The two teams that would decide tiebreak number two are the Buffalo Bulls and the Bowling Green Falcons. Given Temple's loss and Ohio and Miami (OH)'s victories over Bowling Green, the Owls would be eliminated from the tiebreak as soon as they had to compare head-to-head records with the Bobcats and Redhawks against the Falcons. If, on the other hand, Buffalo finishes ahead of Bowling Green, Ohio would be bounced from the tiebreak and Temple would win out via its head-to-head victory over Miami.
As it stands, Buffalo is currently 1-5 in conference while Bowling Green sits at 2-4. They have yet to meet head-to-head and will do so next week. If Bowling Green beats Ohio tonight, than the Owls no longer and have any use for the Bulls. On the other hand, if Ohio beats Bowling Green, Temple will need to rely on both Miami and Buffalo next week. In either case, they will need Miami to beat Ohio. Without that game going Temple's way, this all for naught.
So, it isn't over just yet, Temple fans. But the Owls may have to root for a Buffalo team who—other than their win over the Bobcats—have beaten only the Stony Brook Seawolves (*wow*) in 2011.