Dave Doreen and NIU won the MAC Title Game last year. While the MAC Championship did not make our list, it would be #1. (Photo by Mark A. Cunningham/Getty Images)
Everyone enjoying their summer? I mean, outside of that heat wave that was just atrocious. I mean seriously, 100°+ for 4 straight days? C'mon mother nature, you're better than that.
Ok, on to actual football news. Just a little over 50 days left until the football season starts, including a MAC conference game to kick off the season. I decided to give you my personal guide of all 52 games in order from best to worst in terms of watch-ability, importance, date, rivalry, etc. Feel free to disagree (hey, a rhyme). I know you probably have your own opinions. Let's get into it shall we.........
52. UMass @ WMU (Oct. 6)
This game should be so lopsided that it should almost be unwatchable for anyone BUT a Bronco fan.
51. Buffalo @ NIU (Oct. 13)
50. Buffalo @ Ohio (Oct. 6)
Buffalo makes two trips to two teams that should be very competitive.
49. Ohio @ UMass (Sept. 29)
First MAC game at Gillette Stadium. Unfortunately, it is Ohio who visits, and it should be a blowout.
48. BGSU @ UMass (Oct. 20)
47. WMU @ Buffalo (Nov. 10)
46. Akron @ Ohio (Oct. 13)
A possible upset for Terry Bowden. Unlikely though.
45. Buffalo @ BGSU (Nov. 23)
EDIT: This game will stay at #45, but as Matt notes in the comments, the game adds some luster by being played at Columbus Crew Stadium.
44. UMass @ NIU (Nov. 3)
43. Toledo @ Buffalo (Oct. 27)
42. Miami @ Buffalo (Nov. 3)
Buffalo makes another double dip on the list here, this time with home games. Miami might be a good game, Toledo not so much
41. CMU @ UMass (Nov. 23)
This could be a battle between the division cellar teams. It could be something else. Either way, it's Boston in late November
40. Akron @ Toledo (Nov. 20)
39. CMU @ Toledo (Oct. 6)
Toledo hosts a pair of bottom teams, but both should be competitive this year. Still, it is Toledo.
38. Miami @ Akron (Sept. 29)
37. NIU @ Akron (Oct. 20)
Akron hosts some upper end teams with the chance to play spoiler. Terry Bowden powers activate!
36. Ball St. @ Toledo (Nov. 6)
35. Kent St. @ Buffalo (Sept. 19)
34. Akron @ CMU (Oct. 27)
33. Ball St. @ CMU (Oct. 20)
Central will have a "put up or shut up" pair of weekends before they head into their Michigan MAC games.
32. BGSU @ Akron (Oct. 6)
31. Miami @ CMU (Nov. 17)
30. Buffalo @ UMass (Nov. 17)
The battle between probably the two weakest teams in the MAC will come towards the end of the season.
29. UMass @ Akron (Nov. 10)
And UMass will have a chance to maybe beat Akron beforehand.
28. Ball St. @ Miami (Nov. 23)
27. Ball St. @ Kent St. (Sept. 29)
Ball State makes a pair of trips to two decent teams. If they want to be contenders, they have to win these games.
26. NIU @ EMU (Nov. 23)
The 2nd half of the list begins with the end of the season match-up between two teams that could be anywhere from top half teams to middle-of-the-pack.
25. Ohio @ Ball St. (Nov. 14)
24. CMU @ EMU (Nov. 10)
The arguably the weakest game of the Michigan MAC Trophy will take place here as CMU and EMU should be the weaker two teams out of the three.
23. Akron @ Kent St. (Nov. 3)
Remember when this game last year was going to be the last place game? It should be higher stakes than that this year.
22. WMU @ Ball St. (Oct. 13)
21. Miami @ BGSU (Oct. 13)
These pair of games should be tests for teams looking to contend for the their divisional titles.
20. CMU @ NIU (Sept. 29)
NIU lost just one conference game last year, to Central. Still a head-scratcher.
19. EMU @ BGSU (Oct. 27)
18. Ohio @ Miami (Oct. 27)
A pair of games that should be pretty nice to watch. Both will be on ESPN3.
17. Toledo @ EMU (Oct. 13)
Toledo's high flying offense faces the rock that is the Eagles. If Eastern wanted to make a huge noise, this would be the game to do it.
16. UMass @ Miami (Sept. 22)
Welcome to the MAC UMass!
15. Kent St. @ Miami (Nov. 10)
These two teams will be jockeying for the upper half of the MAC East. Another late season goodie.
14. EMU @ Ohio (Nov. 1)
13. EMU @ WMU (Nov. 17)
The bread of the CMU game sandwich is two trips to MAC Title contenders, including the Michigan MAC Finale in Kalamazoo.
12. NIU @ Ball St. (Oct. 6)
The Battle for the Bronze Stalk!
11. WMU @ Kent St. (Oct. 20)
Just missing the Top 10 is a game between the offensive juggernaut Broncos and defensive wall Golden Flashes.
10. Ohio @ Kent State (Nov. 23, TBD)
The #10 game is based mostly off speculation. It is an end of the year game, between the top-notch Ohio team and a Kent State team that came on late and could be good this year. Kent State is great on D, and Ohio should be great behind Tyler Tettleton. Again, this game could be amazing but it also could be a flub.
9. Kent State @ Eastern Michigan (Oct. 6, 1 pm)
Dull Fest 2012. The Alabama/LSU of the MAC, this game should only excite the defensive strategist at first glance. But let's look deeper. Both teams were expected to perform poorly last year, and managed decent seasons. Both teams will be looking to get a game up in their divisions early on, so look for this one to not be too bad.
8. Western Michigan @ Central Michigan (Nov. 3, 1 pm, ESPN3)
The Central-Western Rivalry always excites. Last year was a blowout, but Western has a lot to prove. They haven't won at Kelly-Shorts Stadium since 2002, and that was after a 10 year losing drought on the road in the rivalry. This may not be the same Central juggernaut of past, but don't count the Chips out to pull off an upset against the MAC West Champion-minded Broncos. Oh yeah, this is also Leg 1 of the Michigan MAC Trophy, with the Broncos getting the bye week.
7. Eastern Michigan @ Ball State (Aug. 30, 7 pm, ESPN3)
How does this game get ahead of the CMU-WMU rivalry? Well this game is one of the season openers. Like in all D-1 football. How cool is that? Also, remember this game last year? Eastern drives and hits a 20-yard FG with 1:18 left to take a 31-30 lead only to have Ball State hit a 44-yarder with 7 seconds left to win it? Yeah, let's hope for that to open the year. Both teams also look to be contenders, so the winner gets a huge boost to start the year.
6. Kent State @ Bowling Green (Nov. 17, Noon, ESPN3)
Before Kent State has a chance to take on Ohio, they have to get through a fairly good Bowling Green squad. BGSU could be in the same, or better, position than the Flashes. A huge MAC East game late in the year as this could be for the #1 contender spot behind Ohio. Another offense meets defense battle, though not as intense as the others listed before.
5. Toledo @ Northern Illinois (Nov. 14, 9 pm)
This game will be on TV. It has to be. Nevertheless, the game between the top 2 teams in the West last year makes it in at #5 this year. How? Well it is after both teams have played WMU, who could make or break this game. Also, Toledo loses their coach and Eric Page while NIU loses Chandler Harnish. While both teams could survive just well, we don't know for sure. As it stands now though. This game isn't the top MAC West game for me.
4. Bowling Green @ Toledo (Sept. 15, 7 pm, ESPNU)
The Battle of I-75 is the 2nd MAC game of the season. And what a game it will be. Both teams look to compete this year, as both teams return a bulk of their starters from a season ago. This was a 7-point game in the end last year, and if BG shuts down the run this year, it could be a barn burner.
3. Northern Illinois @ Western Michigan (Oct. 27, Noon, ESPN3)
If the Broncos want to win their first MAC West Title in the Bill Cubit era, they have to beat NIU. Last year, the Huskies pounded the Bronco run defense for 500 yards. This after Western started 4-2 and looked dominant. NIU went on to win the MAC Title, and Western finished 3rd in the division. One year later the Huskies can again put the Broncos down, or get beaten by them for the first time since 2008. Either way, this should be one hell of a game before Halloween.
2. Bowling Green @ Ohio (Nov. 7, 8 pm, ESPN2)
My odds on favorite for the "MAC East Title Game", Matt Schilz and Co. travel to Athens to take on Tyler Tettleton and his group of buddies. Ohio gets this game at home, and depending on the BG-Kent St game, could be the toughest test on their schedule. A win, and a BG win over Kent State allows Ohio to almost walk into Kent with the East title locked up. Or Bowling Green could finish the upset from last year when Matt Weller hit a 23 yarder to down the Falcons with no time left. Wednesday Night Football Folks, your #2 game.
1. Toledo @ Western Michigan (Sept. 29, TBD)
This game doesn't even have a kick-off time set, and is my #1 game. Why? See last year's game. 66-63, all regulation. Offense meets offense in the battle between probably the two biggest MAC West contenders. Can Alex Carder lead his new WRs against the speed that is Toledo? Does Toledo continue to burn the Broncos? Who will have the upper edge in the ever competitive MAC West? All answered before we get into October. Where's my time machine? I'm ready for the season.
If we tally the schedules and assign points for rankings (#52 = 1 pt, #1 = 52 pts, etc), we get the following:
|Kent State||288||Eastern Michigan||295|
|Bowling Green||247||Western Michigan||267|
The two most defensive teams get the top two spots mostly because they are the biggest wild-cards. Their games should be mostly done for jockeying positions. The bigger teams (WMU, Toledo, Ohio) fall in the middle based on a couple big games, but some easy ones otherwise. The East has the weaker teams, and thus has the low 3.
Well that's it folks. Agree? Disagree? Hate me? Let me know in the comments.
What game is your #1 MAC game?
Toledo @ WMU (23 votes)
BGSU @ Ohio (13 votes)
NIU @ WMU (8 votes)
BGSU @ Toledo (16 votes)
Toledo @ NIU (30 votes)
Other (19 votes)
109 total votes