At Long Last, the MAC’s 2012 Schedule
By Paul Myerberg // Mar 30, 2012
The MAC would have released its conference schedule sooner — a month or so ago, in fact — had it not been for Temple, which left for the Big East on March 7. If you remember from earlier this month, the move was fairly devastating to the MAC, which was planning on entering the fall with 14 teams, seven in each division. Temple’s bolt returns the MAC to its customary 13-team layout, with Massachusetts the new face, but the move had another, largely untouched ramification: Bowling Green was pegged to be part of the MAC West with the addition of the Minutemen, but the Falcons will instead remain part of the East. That’s good news for Bowling Green.
That’s the back story behind the MAC’s delay: Temple’s departure, though perhaps not a tremendous shock, left the conference scrambling. Poised for two seven-team divisions, the MAC needed to go back to the awkward six-and-seven split that it had worked to avoid over the last 24 months.
Better late than never, especially when it comes midweek MAC football. The conference is scheduled to play nine midweek conference games on ESPN, satisfying those who, like the gentleman above, look to MAC football as the bridge from Saturday to Saturday — whether a fan of the SEC, Big 12, A.C.C., Big Ten or otherwise, I believe we can all agree on this point.
The MAC will have another six games broadcast regionally in September and October, likely during the conference’s run of games against Big Ten competition. The nine conference games due to run on the ESPN family of networks includes an option for Toledo’s trip to Northern Illinois on Tuesday, Nov. 14; last year’s affair, a 63-60 win for the Huskies, was the MAC game of the year.
Here are the nine games available for a midweek broadcast in November. ESPN will select between the two games scheduled for Nov. 14 — Ohio at Ball State and Toledo at N.I.U. — on Nov. 2. Over the course of the season, according to the conference, four MAC games will air on ESPN2, four on ESPNU and one online only. That’s in addition to the six regional broadcasts.
Thurs., Nov. 1 Eastern Michigan at Ohio, 6 p.m.
Tues., Nov. 6 Ball State at Toledo, 8 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 7 Bowling Green at Ohio, 8 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 14 Ohio at Ball State, 8 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 14 Toledo at Northern Illinois, 9 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 23 Ball State at Miami (Ohio), T.B.A.
Fri., Nov. 23 Buffalo at Bowling Green, T.B.A.
Fri., Nov. 23 Central Michigan at UMass, T.B.A.
Fri., Nov. 23 N.I.U. at Eastern Michigan, T.B.A.
Fri., Nov. 23 Ohio at Kent State, T.B.A.
As a whole, the MAC’s non-conference slate features at least one game against each of the six B.C.S. conferences. There are 12 games against the Big Ten, with Indiana, Iowa and Michigan State playing two MAC foes apiece. There are five games against the SEC: Bowling Green at Florida, Buffalo at Georgia, Kent State at Kentucky, Akron at Tennessee and Massachusetts at Vanderbilt.
One team comes from the Big 12, with Kansas tripping to Northern Illinois on Sept. 22 — while the Jayhawks beat N.I.U. a year ago, there’s a chance that the Huskies will be favored to win this game. The MAC will also play two games against the A.C.C., eight against the Big East and one against the Pac-12. Massachusetts’ non-conference schedule is particularly unkind: at Connecticut, in Gillette Stadium for Indiana, at Michigan and at Vanderbilt.
The Minutemen have the toughest non-conference schedule, but Miami (Ohio) isn’t too far behind. The RedHawks do get Southern Illinois on Sept. 8, but that likely win is sandwiched between dates against Ohio State, Boise State and Cincinnati. Just behind Miami is Central Michigan, which will take on Michigan State, Iowa and Navy outside of MAC play.
Conference play comes in dribs and drabs through early and mid-September — Eastern Michigan and Ball State meet on Aug. 30, in fact — but doesn’t kick into gear until the month’s final week, when there are five MAC games on the schedule. The best among that bunch is Toledo at Western Michigan; the Rockets, as you can tell, get the Huskies and Broncos on the road.
The best week of MAC play comes from Nov. 14-17. The weekday slate, as noted above, is led by the Rockets’ date in DeKalb. On Saturday, the Minutemen get what looks like their best shot at a conference win when they play Buffalo at home. Also on Saturday: Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan, Kent State at Bowling Green and Miami at Central Michigan.
The year culminates on Nov. 30 in its usual spot: Detroit’s Ford Field, where East meets West for a berth in either the Little Caesars or GoDaddy.com Bowl. Looking for key games in both division? In the East, it’s likely Ohio’s trip to Miami on Oct. 27. In the West, it’s the round-robin of games between Toledo, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.
Tags: Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, MAC, Massachusetts, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Ohio, Temple, Toledo, Western Michigan
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