Michigan announced that they were going to play Western Michigan in 2018. That caused me to peak ahead to the 2017 season for each team in the MAC. I already knew a couple of the big match-ups, and was surprised to learn of a few others. In fact, each team has at least one interesting game, and most have several.
Here are a few that jumped off the page.
I am sure non-Bronco fans are sick of hearing about how well PJ Fleck and company did last season, while Bronco fans are still glowing. Even though Fleck left, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, however next season certainly has a ton of question marks.
They wont have to wait long to see where they are at. In the first game of their season, on Saturday, September 2nd, they travel to L.A. to take on the Trojans.
USC will most likely be a top 5 team to start the season. Some were saying they deserved a playoff spot, despite 4 losses, because they were playing that well to finish the season. They took on the champions of the Big Ten, Penn State, in the Rose Bowl and put up 52 points in the victory.
It’s likely that Western Michigan’s defense and running game will need to carry the team early next season. There will likely be no bigger test than the USC offense and USC’s defense might still have holes. As big as the Cotton Bowl was, a win here could really be a program changer.
Toledo Rockets @ Miami Hurricanes
While it’s no given, there is a possibility that the Rockets will be 3-0 when they head to South Beach to take on the Hurricanes on Saturday, September 23rd. If that’s the case, they will likely be receiving votes, and possibly even be ranked.
The Rockets lost a lot of talent this season, including quite a few to the NFL. That doesn’t really diminish the expectations on the season, though, because they return the nation’s leader in touchdown passes last year, Logan Woodside. He has some great receivers returning, including Cody Thompson and Jon’Vea Johnson.
The Hurricanes are also optimistic in their season season under coach Mark Richt. They will have a new quarterback, so it’s possible the Rockets could win in a shootout. If that happens, look for the “Are the Rockets this years Western Michigan” talk to start.
Miami RedHawks at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
No team was hotter than Miami to end the year last season. Well, a few were, but starting the season 0-6 and then finishing it 6-0 is one of the most amazing stories from 2016. A botched field goal cost them the bowl win against Mississippi State, and kept Dan Mullen’s seat in Starkville from getting a little hotter.
On Saturday, September 30th, the RedHawks head to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish. Last season they went 4-8. Another bad season, including a loss to a MAC school, will likely lead to the dismissal of coach Brian Kelly.
Good, I want him gone. While not a huge fan, I do like Notre Dame, and more importantly I think a good Notre Dame is good for college football. I think he fluked his way into a national title game, and that’s the only reason why he still has a job. He isn’t the right fit, so I will doubly be watching this game to see if Miami’s run was a lead up to this season, and to see if Kelly will still have a job.
On Thursday, August 31st, the Bulls travel to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers.
This will be the first game of the year for the MAC, and it’s also a double dipper for me.
Last year was a disappointment, to say the least, for the Bulls. While this game wont necessarily tell us much about the Bulls, it could. On the flip side, I think most of the country is curious how well PJ Fleck is going to do in Minnesota.
These are just 4 of the many great games coming up next season in the MAC. Eastern Michigan takes on Rutgers out of the Big Ten and Kentucky out of the mighty SEC. If they continue playing like they did last season, both are winnable games and a nice feather in the cap.
NIU was down like Buffalo last season, and they have Boston College and Nebraska. A win in either game would be nice, a win in both and they will be stamped into the national consciousness.
Ohio, like Eastern Michigan, takes on a couple of beatable power 5s in Purdue and Kansas, and Kent opens with defending national champion Clemson.
Those are few more great non-conference games, and I left out at least 14 other games that I jotted down while writing this story.
It’s only May, and I can’t wait for MACtion to kick off.