Top 10 Must-See Games of The 2013 Season

Chris Trotman

Mark your calendars now. These are the 10 games you're going to want to make sure you catch this fall.

It's been 230 days since we had our last dose of MAC Football. Well, friends the wait is almost over. The MAC Football season officially begins in just five days:  Thursday at 6 p.m. when Liberty and Kent state kick off on ESPN 3. While I'm certain we all plan on watching as much #MACtion as humanly possible, occasionally we do have to get up and do things, like bathe. So to help you out I've compiled a list of the Top 10 MAC Football games to watch this season, to help you prioritize.

First a couple stipulations:

  • Non-conference games are eligible for the list.
  • However, in conference games receive more weight.
  • Midweek games also receive more weight for the added level of #MACtion.
Now on to the list:

10. Akron at UMass (Sat, Nov. 16, 1 p.m.) — I know, this is probably unfair, but seriously how can a game between the two worst MAC teams from 2012 not make this list? The second annual 'Toilet Bowl' should be a fun watch as it's possibly (though not likely) that whoever wins this one could be picking up their only win of the 2013 season. Both teams have serious flaws on offense and defense, so it should be fairly competitive. Last season UMass won the first match-up 22-14 on Akron's home turf in a game that featured seven total turnovers and 17 combined penalties. The second go-around should be just as fun.

9. Ohio at Louisville (Sun, Sept. 1, 3:30 p.m.) — The 'Cats open up their season with a road trip to a big name once more in 2013. Last year Ohio pulled off the improbable upset of Penn State, riding it to a 7-0 record to begin the year. Louisville is MUCH better than Penn State, hence being ranked No. 9 in the nation. But Frank Solich and his Bobcats have proven they can go into a hostile environment and knock off a Goliath, so Ohio will put up a fight. Plus it's one of only two college football games on Sunday of opening weekend. There's no reason not to watch this.

8. Northern Illinois at Iowa (Sat, Aug. 31, 3:30 p.m.) — In 2012 a 1-point loss at the hands of the Hawkeyes was all that kept NIU from an undefeated regular season. Jordan Lynch was making his first career start in last years game, and played poorly. But as we know, that quickly changed. Now with one of the best individual season's college football has ever witnessed under his belt, Lynch and the Huskies are looking for revenge. Figure out what channel the Big 10 Network is on your listings now, because you wont want to miss this one.

7. Buffalo at Kent State (Sat, Oct 26, Time TBA) — Neither team is viewed as a threat to win the MAC East, and it's unlikely either will shock the world in that aspect. But anytime you can watch two of the MAC's top players go head-to-head it's must-see TV. Dri Archer will attempt to run, receive and return all over the Bulls. But if Khalil Mack is a punishing man-beast who will certainly put a crinkle in the Heisman candidate's game plan. Plenty of NFL scouts will likely be in attendance as well.

6. Central Michigan at Western Michigan (Sat, Nov 16, noon) — Let's be honest, despite EMU's recent success, the battle of the MAC-Michigan's is really a two-horse race (no pun intended)

5. Toledo at Ball. St. (Sat, Sept. 28, 3 p.m.) — Despite NIU's dominance in recent years, the MAC West is a three-way race in 2013, mostly due to Toledo and Ball St. being much improved and loaded with multiple weapons. This early season match up between two of those three teams will likely eliminate one from contention for the MAC West title. Last season the Cardinals defeated the Rockets 34-27 in one of the best MAC games of the season.

4. Ball St. at Northern Illinois (Wed, Nov 13, 8 p.m.) — Last season Keith Wenning threw the ball 72 times against NIU. That's not a typo. Jordan Lynch managed four touchdowns and more than 400 yards of total offense to down Wenning's Cardinals 35-23.  While not as big of a game as Toledo-NIU, this match up has typically paired two of the MAC's top teams in recent years. Check your local listings, as this one will be on either ESPN2 or ESPNU and will be huge in the MAC Football landscape. These are two of the top teams in the conference, both engaged in a three-way race for the MAC West. Deciding who goes to Detroit from the West could come down to this game.

3. Toledo at Bowling Green (Sat, Oct. 26, Time TBA) — The Battle of I-75 was ranked the best rivalry in the MAC, and this year's match up will undoubtedly show off why. Both teams are near the top of the MAC, and are candidates to un-throne NIU as the reigning (two-time) MAC Champs. Bowling Green is easily the best defense in the MAC. Toledo is loaded with more offensive weapons than any team in the conference. It's a great game on clash of strengths alone, adding in the heated rivalry is just a bonus.

2. Ohio at Bowling Green (Tue, Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m.) — I don't know how ESPN didn't pick this Tuesday night morsel. This game will likely be the deciding factor in who takes home the MAC East crown this season. Ohio is the favorite, but the Falcons are an incredibly talented underdog. Last year Anthon Samuel's legs, and the swarming BG defense powered the Falcons to a 26-14 victory in Athens. But Samuel is gone, and Ohio is healthy (for now).  This won't be your typical #MACtion game. Expect this to be a slug fest of Ohio's power run game against BG's knockout defense, in more of a B1G style math up. This will be a good one.

1. Northern Illinois at Toledo (Wed,  Nov. 20, 8 p.m.) — For the past few seasons Toledo-NIU has been the cream of the #MACtion crop. The games feature close contests, usually for all the marbles in the West, and of course LOTS OF SCORING. 2011 was a 63-60 Huskies' victory that had more than 1,000 combined yards of offense. 2012 was a bit tamer in the scoring department, but didn't lack in drama.Toledo seniors Terrance Owens, David Fluellen and Bernard Reedy are looking for their first win in this series, while MAC superman Jordan Lynch will look to make it four straight Huskie victories in the rivalry. This game will be the pinnacle of #MACtion in 2013. To borrow from the great Canadian sports anchor Jay Onrait: NORTHERN ILLINOIS...TOLEDO...WEDNESDAY...NOVEMBER 20...8 P.M....ESPN2...WATCH IT!

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