MAC spring sports are coming to an end and we here at Hustle Belt understand that you're all probably getting pretty antsy for some football. Can't blame you. We are too.
In case you haven't checked out our Tuesday Night Lights podcast run by the lovely Alex Alvarado and Brandon Fitzsimmons: you can now find them at the bottom of our articles. One of the topics of a recent podcast was the top five MAC matchups to look forward to this fall. Here are how they listed them.
Fitzsimmons: BG-Ohio, CMU-WMU, Ohio-Toledo, Toledo-WMU, Miami-EMU
Alvarado: Akron-OU, Akron-Buffalo, CMU-NIU, CMU-Miami, EMU-BSU
There are certainly others you should be keeping an eye on as the season draws nearer. Let's lay a few of those out here.
Northern Illinois vs. Western Michigan - Saturday, Oct. 8th
The Broncos can set the tone early in the conference slate. Corey Davis returns as quite possibly a top three wide receiver in the country and likely the most talented athlete to play for a MAC program.
A balanced offensive attack should mean an early-conference slate win over the visiting Huskies, but NIU could go and shake everything up. Rod Carey and squad would love to the set the tone early in what could be a parity-filled MAC season in 2016.
Kalamazoo will be rocking as the energy around the 2016 is bound to be "Lit" as the kids say.
Toledo vs. Northern Illinois Wednesday, Nov. 9th
Toledo plays well. Toledo garners high expectations. Toledo falls to Northern Illinois. It's a vicious cycle for Rocket fans. The Rockets have fallen at the hands of the Huskies every year since 2010, and by single digits the last two years.
These two bring it against one another. Remember the 63-60 classic in 2011? I can still remember flipping over to watch the game in disbelief and planting a shallow seed that contributed to my future love of #MACtion. Last year's game was fun as hell too.
Why should 2016 be any different? Seeing some measurable talent leave both programs should not mean much for the competitive nature of these two schools, especially against one another. Their Nov. 9th matchup will leave an impact on the west race. Huskie fans will be out at, oh yeah, U.S. CELLULAR FIELD in full force to root for a seventh straight win over Toledo.
Bowling Green vs. Akron Wednesday, Nov. 9th
TWO GAMES ON THE SAME DAY. Both at 8 p.m. (EST). Even after losing oodles of talent and changing coaching staffs, there's still enough talent on this Falcons squad to compete for a MAC crown. Enter foe Akron, who actually stands to be, along with Ohio, the two most stable teams in the East, don't mind Jatavis Brown and Cody Grice being gone and all that jazz. Okay do mind it, but just know that the game between these two on a Wednesday night will have big implications.
Will James Knapke be the gunslinger or will James Morgan have taken his spot as the signal-caller by then? Time will tell. Calling it now, it will be fun.
Miami vs. Buffalo, Nov. 12th
Hear me out here. Buffalo and Miami are both teams who have a lot to prove. Chuck Martin is churning out solid recruiting classes. He's scoring high when it comes to hauling in bigguns. When it comes to Buffalo and Lance Leipold, we can expect things to maybe turn around this year even after Buffalo loses some experience right? This is the battle of two teams who will still be experiencing growing pains. Perhaps we'll see one blossom over the other. Maybe we'll see a stinker. Your guess is as good as mine.
Ohio vs. Central Michigan Tuesday, Nov. 15th
The Bobcats travel to Mount Pleasant for what has the potential to be a critical November game. In the top-heavy West, it's fair to assume that the last week of games will be meaningful, but teams like NIU, WMU and Toledo do not play one another those weeks. Mark down CMU as somewhat of a dark horse team to win the division. The Chippewas might not even be a dark horse in that respect. They did after all win six games in the Mid-American Conference last year. With Cooper Rush and crew hosting a home matchup to put their aerial attack on display (minus Titus Davis), a young and for now inexperienced Bobcat secondary could be in for a tough evening.
At the same time, Ohio could very well be in contention for a birth to Detroit. Barring some true nuttiness, Ohio will be fighting Akron and Bowling Green for a MAC East crown. Expecting a drop off from the Falcons given what they've lost isn't absurd, so a three-team East race to the finish could be in the cards. A.J. "OU"lette, prospective MAC defensive player of the year Quentin Poling and the Bobcat family will probably be vying for a spot to Detroit on what is likely to be a cold and electric November evening.
You might be saying something to the extent of "well, hell, why don't you just name all the games?" That's not out of the question. You should watch all the games.
The lack of an overly-dominant team in the East will mean that the season could go down to the last week. Who is to say that Ball State or Eastern might not pee in someone's cheerios as well?
What games will you most be looking forward to?