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Initial 2023 Mid-American Conference football schedule released

The league schedule took some more time to cook than usual this offseason, but the fixtures look enticing in the upcoming slate.

NCAA Football: Mid-American Championship-Toledo at Ohio Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

We’re in the midst of a transitory time for college football as the upcoming 2023 campaign is the 10th and final season of the 4-team College Football Playoff format which first revolutionized the sport in 2014.

The Sun Belt added four new members last season. The Big 12, AAC, and C-USA all welcome new institutions on their 2023 schedules. The SEC and Big Ten await additions of departing Big 12 and Pac-12 schools in 2024. The Mountain West, ACC, and Pac-12 all reformatted their conference championship games by eliminating divisions.

So far, eight of 10 FBS conferences have named their 2023 schedules for the upcoming campaign despite the relative chaos of their new memberships. One of the two conferences which waited? The Mid-American Conference, one of two FBS leagues to remain stable in the latest chapter of realignment. (The other being the Mountain West, who has also yet to release their schedule.)

The 2023 schedule features the usual 12 members which have all belonged to the conference since 1999. The East and West divisions remain intact, with Ford Field in Detroit serving as the neutral site of the 2023 MAC Championship Game once again.

The presence of midweek MACtion contests on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in November also remains a constant in the schedule, with the conference taking center stage of the college football universe over several national television windows.

With four non-conference games and eight MAC matchups for each team — and the possibility of a December trip to Detroit waiting at the end — here are the 2023 football schedules for all 12 programs:

2023 MAC Football Schedule

Week Saturday Date Akron Ball State Bowling Green Buffalo Central Michigan Eastern Michigan Kent State Miami (OH) Northern Illinois Ohio Toledo Western Michigan
Week Saturday Date Akron Ball State Bowling Green Buffalo Central Michigan Eastern Michigan Kent State Miami (OH) Northern Illinois Ohio Toledo Western Michigan
0 Sat, Aug. 26 BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE @ San Diego State BYE BYE
1 Sat, Sep. 2 @ Temple @ Kentucky @ Liberty @ Wisconsin @ Michigan State vs. Howard [FCS] (Fri) @ UCF (Thu) @ Miami (FL) (Fri) @ Boston College vs. LIU [FCS] @ Illinois vs. St. Francis [FCS]
2 Sat, Sep. 9 vs. Morgan State [FCS] @ Georgia vs. Eastern Illinois [FCS] vs. Fordham [FCS] vs. New Hampshire [FCS] @ Minnesota @ Arkansas @ UMass vs. Southern Illinois [FCS] @ Florida Atlantic vs. Texas Southern [FCS] @ Syracuse
3 Sat, Sep. 16 @ Kentucky vs. Indiana State [FCS] @ Michigan vs. Liberty @ Notre Dame vs. UMass vs. CCSU [FCS] @ Cincinnati @ Nebraska vs. Iowa State vs. San Jose State @ Iowa
4 Sat, Sep. 23 @ Indiana vs. Georgia Southern vs. Ohio @ Louisiana @ South Alabama @ Jacksonville State @ Fresno State vs. Delaware State [FCS] vs. Tulsa @ Bowling Green vs. Western Michigan @ Toledo
5 Sat, Sep. 30 vs. Buffalo @ Western Michigan @ Georgia Tech @ Akron vs. Eastern Michigan @ Central Michigan vs. Miami (OH) @ Kent State @ Toledo BYE vs. Northern Illinois vs. Ball State
6 Sat, Oct. 7 vs. Northern Illinois @ Eastern Michigan @ Miami (OH) vs. Central Michigan @ Buffalo vs. Ball State @ Ohio vs. Bowling Green @ Akron Kent State @ UMass @ Mississippi State
7 Sat, Oct. 14 @ Central Michigan vs. Toledo @ Buffalo vs. Bowling Green vs. Akron vs. Kent State @ Eastern Michigan @ Western Michigan vs. Ohio @ Northern Illinois @ Ball State vs. Miami (OH)
8 Sat, Oct. 21 @ Bowling Green vs. Central Michigan vs. Akron @ Kent State @ Ball State @ Northern Illinois vs. Buffalo vs. Toledo vs. Eastern Michigan vs. Western Michigan @ Miami (OH) @ Ohio
9 Sat, Oct. 28 BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE vs. Western Michigan BYE @ Ohio BYE @ Miami (OH) BYE @ Eastern Michigan
10 Sat, Nov. 4 vs. Kent State (Wed) @ Bowling Green (Wed) vs. Ball State (Wed) @ Toledo (Tue) vs. Northern Illinois (Tue) BYE @ Akron (Wed) BYE @ Central Michigan (Tue) BYE vs. Buffalo (Tue) BYE
11 Sat, Nov. 11 @ Miami (OH) (Wed) @ Northern Illinois (Tue) @ Kent State (Wed) vs. Ohio (Tue) @ Western Michigan (Tue) @ Toledo (Wed) vs. Bowling Green (Wed) vs. Akron (Wed) vs. Ball State (Tue) @ Buffalo (Tue) vs. Eastern Michigan (Wed) vs. Central Michigan (Tue)
12 Sat, Nov. 18 @ Eastern Michigan (Tue) vs. Kent State vs. Toledo (Tue) @ Miami (OH) (Wed) @ Ohio (Wed) vs. Akron (Tue) @ Ball State vs. Buffalo (Wed) vs. Western Michigan (Tue) vs. Central Michigan (Wed) @ Bowling Green (Tue) @ Northern Illinois (Tue)
13 Sat, Nov. 25 vs. Ohio (Fri) vs. Miami (OH) @ Western Michigan (Tue) vs. Eastern Michigan (Tue) vs. Toledo (Fri) @ Buffalo (Tue) vs. Northern Illinois @ Ball State @ Kent State @ Akron (Fri) @ Central Michigan (Fri) vs. Bowling Green (Tue)
14 Sat, Dec. 2 MAC Championship Game MAC Championship Game MAC Championship Game MAC Championship Game MAC Championship Game MAC Championship Game MAC Championship Game MAC Championship Game MAC Championship Game MAC Championship Game MAC Championship Game MAC Championship Game

For the MAC, there are a lot of similarities in regards to the make-up of this year’s schedule compared to the 2022 edition.

The league has once again opted for three major weeknight rivalry games in 2023, with Central Michigan vs. Western Michigan (Nov. 7) and Toledo vs. Bowling Green (Nov. 14) once again slated to be on national TV, with the Wagon Wheel trophy game between Akron and Kent State rotating in on Nov. 1.

Last season saw the Battle of the Bricks between Ohio and Miami on a weeknight, but 2023 will see the most famous rivalry game in the conference get moved back to the weekend on Saturday, Oct. 28. This rotation of the “third” rivalry game seems to be a trend of recent scheduling, and should be something to look out for in the future.

The majority of the November league schedule is once again on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with just five contests played on Friday or Saturday, with all five of those coming in the final two weeks of the month, as per tradition.

Central Michigan continues their tradition of Black Friday games, having been selected once again to play on the quasi-holiday, taking on Toledo on Nov. 24. Akron will also play Ohio on the same day. TV times are to-be-determined for those games at a later date, which is an important point to keep track of as the NFL is expected to have at least one Black Friday contest in 2023 to air on Amazon Prime.

The MAC Championship Game once again is set to be played on Saturday afternoon for a third-straight season. This is an indication the game will likely occupy the kick-off slot for ESPN’s Championship Gameday coverage.

The last time the MAC title game was played on a Friday night was in the 2020 COVID season.

Schedule notes, fun facts, and trivia

  • Key rivalry dates:

Anniversary Award (Bowling Green @ Kent State) - Saturday, Oct. 21

Battle of the Bricks (Miami (OH) @ Ohio) - Saturday, Oct. 28

Battle of I-75 (Toledo @ Bowling Green) - Wednesday, Nov. 1

Wagon Wheel (Kent State @ Akron) - Wednesday, Nov. 1

Battle for the Victory Cannon (Central Michigan @ Western Michigan) - Tuesday, Nov. 7

Bronze Stalk (Ball State @ Northern Illinois) - Tuesday, Nov. 7

Red Bird Rivalry (Miami (OH) @ Ball State) - Saturday, Nov. 25

  • The MAC Championship Game takes place at Ford Field in Detroit for the 20th consecutive season. After transpiring on Friday night for much of the 2010s, the game will be held on a Saturday for the third consecutive year.
  • MAC play officially kicks off in Week 4 when Toledo hosts Western Michigan and Bowling Green hosts Ohio.
  • Midweek MACtion officially kicks off on Tuesday, Oct. 31 with Buffalo @ Toledo and Northern Illinois @ Central Michigan. There are four weeks of midweek MACtion, starting Halloween and ending the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
  • Buffalo and Bowling Green lead the conference in midweek games this year with four apiece. Ball State, Kent State, and Miami (OH) have the fewest midweek games with two each.
  • The longest drought between MAC opponents playing each other is Toledo and Miami (OH). The Rockets and RedHawks haven’t squared off since 2011, but 12 years later, that matchup is finally back on the schedule. Toledo visits Oxford on Saturday, Oct. 21.
  • With a road trip to San Diego State, Ohio is the first MAC team to play on Week 0 since 2004 Miami (OH), which defeated Indiana State of the FCS 49-0. No other MAC team has ever launched its season prior to Week 1. Due to this Week 0 game, Ohio has multiple bye weeks.
  • Six MAC teams have a non-conference schedule featuring three road games and one home game against an FCS opponent (Akron, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Kent State, Miami (OH), Western Michigan).
  • Excluding 2020 when the MAC and Big Ten played conference-only schedules, at least one MAC team has defeated a Big Ten opponent in 16 consecutive seasons. There are eight opportunities to extend that streak through 2023.
  • Miami (OH) plays Miami (FL) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL on Friday night in Week 1. This will be their first contest since 1987. All prior matchups have been in Coral Gables.
  • Despite Cincinnati departing the AAC for the Big 12, the Battle for the Victory Bell remains on Miami (OH)’s schedule. The crosstown rivals have met every year on the football field since 1909, except for seasons impacted by World War II (1943, 1944) and the COVID-19 pandemic (2020).
  • The latest non-conference games on the schedule this year are Western Michigan’s trip to Mississippi State and Toledo’s road game at UMass, which both occur in Week 6 on Saturday, Oct. 7.

(Editor’s note: Corrected to reflect that the MAC is the ninth FBS league to release their football schedules. The Mountain West is expected to unveil their announcement on Thursday.)