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A MACtion-packed guide to Super Bowl LVII

Skyy Moore, Andrew Wylie, and Brett Kern are among MAC alums most likely to make an impact with the Lombardi on the line.

NFL: AFC Championship-Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Football’s grandest stage opens shop in Glendale, AZ on Sunday evening. Legacies will be defined, momentum-swinging plays like the David Tyree catch and Malcolm Butler interception will become immortalized for generations, and confetti will be reflected in the sterling reflection reflection of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Super Bowl LVII kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET and 4:30 local time at State Farm Stadium on Sunday. This year’s matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs features two 1-seeds with identical 13-4 records — both sharing the designation of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in the previous five seasons.

As with all Super Bowls, there are plenty of captivating pregame storylines, ranging from the duel between the top two MVP finishers Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts to brothers Travis Kelce and Jason Kelce squaring off from opposite sidelines. At Hustle Belt, we like to put a MACtion twist on things, so here are the players to watch in Super Bowl LVII with ties to the Mid-American Conference:

Skyy Moore, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (Western Michigan)

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Skyy Moore is one of the most recent MAC superstars to make a splash in the NFL. Less than 10 months again, Moore was selected as a second round pick by the Chiefs in effort to replace speedster receiver Tyreek Hill. The former Western Michigan standout was buried further on the depth chart than expected, ranking seventh on the team in receptions (22) and eighth in receiving yards (250) as a rookie — while still awaiting his first professional touchdown.

But when Moore’s number was called in the AFC Championship Game, he delivered in memorable fashion by returning a punt 29 yards with under 40 seconds remaining. Moore’s longest punt return of his young NFL career set Kansas City just shy of midfield, throwing up the lob for Patrick Mahomes and the offense to set up a game-winning field goal. And that’s exactly what happened, as Harrison Butker drained a 45-yarder to send the Chiefs to Glendale. After hauling in four receptions in two playoff games, Moore may play a recurring role with the offense, but look for him to make a splash on special teams once again with his electrifying speed that was on full display in Kalamazoo.

Andrew Wylie, OT, Kansas City Chiefs (Eastern Michigan)

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Jacksonville Jaguars v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Chiefs have been the supreme juggernaut in the AFC throughout the past five years, appearing in five consecutive AFC Championship Games and three Super Bowls. But one underdog has played a pivotal role in an era where Kansas City almost exclusively plays the part as the favorite. Andrew Wylie was undrafted in 2017, right after anchoring Eastern Michigan to its first bowl appearance in 29 years. His NFL career started out following the typical trajectory of an undrafted player, floating around three practice squads during the 2017 season. But in 2018, he rapidly emerged into a starting right guard in place of the injured Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

But when Kansas City won its first Super Bowl in 50 seasons to cap the 2019 campaign, Wylie was not present on the gridiron. He suffered a late-season ankle sprain which held him out of the playoffs. The Eastern Michigan alum regained his starting right guard spot, but when fellow MAC great Eric Fisher tore his achilles in the AFC Championship Game, Wylie shifted to right tackle for the Super Bowl. Super Bowl LV was not the finest hour for the Chiefs offensive line, and overhauling the unit became a priority the following offseason. But come Sunday evening, Wylie is the only starter from Super Bowl LV expected to start in Super Bowl LVII. The Chiefs allowed the third fewest sacks in the NFL this year, and pass protection will be the most important aspect of this game, when factoring in Mahomes’ ankle injury and the Eagles’ No. 1 ranking in the sack department.

Brett Kern, P, Philadelphia Eagles (Toledo)

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

How long ago did Brett Kern play in the MAC? Well, he punted for Toledo in the 2004 MAC Championship Game for Toledo, back when the conference featured programs like UCF and Marshall — so it’s been a while. Kern has enjoyed a prosperous 15-year NFL career, primarily with the Tennessee Titans, earning accolades such as two All-Pro selections and three Pro Bowl nods. One honor is still pending as the former Rocket has yet to punt in a Super Bowl. But even if the Eagles go three-and-out on their first drive, it is still unknown if Kern will get that opportunity.

Kern was signed to the Eagles roster in December when punter Arryn Siposs injured his ankle in a Week 14 victory over the Giants. The 36-year old held down the fort on special teams for the remainder of the season and through both of the Eagles’ playoff wins. In the Divisional Round thrashing of the Giants, Kern pinned three punts inside New York’s own 20-yard line, and he punted four times in the NFC Championship Game win over the 49ers — including one memorable punt which appeared hit the sky camera wire. But with Siposs activated from injured reserve, it’s unclear if the Eagles will stick with the veteran Kern or revert to Siposs, who posted a 45.6 punting average this season.

Tyree Jackson, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (Buffalo)

NFL: NOV 20 Eagles at Colts Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Yes, it’s that Tyree Jackson playing tight end. The former 6’7”, strong-armed Buffalo quarterback made the transition after a brief XFL stint when the Eagles signed him in January 2021. The 2018 MAC Offensive Player of the Year finally got his moment in a late-season game against the Cowboys last season, snagging three receptions for 22 yards including his first professional touchdown. However, Jackson tore his ACL later in that contest, sidelining him for a portion of this season.

The Buffalo legend returned in Week 11 and played 34 offensive snaps and 23 special teams snaps before returning to injured reserve with a knee injury. Jackson unfortunately remains on injured reserve for Super Bowl LVII, but his No. 80 might make a prominent appearance. Philadelphia head coach Nick Sirianni oftentimes displays the numbers of players on injured reserve on the brim of his visor, so Jackson may be represented there.

Mike Danna, DE, Kansas City Chiefs (Central Michigan)

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Jacksonville Jaguars v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Due to the method colleges are traditionally listed for NFL players, Mike Danna is cited as a Michigan alum. But in the age where transferring becomes more commonplace, it is only natural there will be some players with split MAC affiliation. Before Danna called the Big House his home for the 2019 season, he spent three years manning the pass rush at Central Michigan and earned First Team All-MAC honors in 2018.

Danna was drafted in the fifth round by Kansas City in 2020 after one year with the Wolverines, and he’s played a reserve role with the team for three years now. The former Chippewa recorded career-highs in tackles (27) and sacks (5.0) while forcing two fumbles. Danna recorded five tackles in the AFC Championship Game and has appeared on slightly below 50 percent of defensive snaps this postseason. Look for the 6’2”, 255 pound defensive end to check into the game to jolt the Chiefs’ second-ranked pass rush against a sturdy Eagles offensive line.

Mike Caliendo, G, Kansas City Chiefs (Western Michigan)

Skyy Moore isn’t the only Western Michigan rookie on the Chiefs. Former Bronco guard Mike Caliendo, a college teammate of Moore’s, appears on the practice squad for Kansas City. The 2021 First Team All-MAC selection was an undrafted free agent signing last spring, but was waived toward the end of August. The Chiefs retained Caliendo on the practice squad and the former Western Michigan guard awaits his first NFL snap to this day.

Super Bowl LVII between the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles and AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ.