Looking over the schedules for all of the MAC Conference teams, I have rounded up 20 specific matchups that I find to be the most interesting. Most of these take place in the first 4 weeks of the season, while a few take place later in the season.
1. Week 1 (Aug. 28) - Vanderbilt @ Miami OH
TV: 6:30 PM CST on ESPNU (HD)
This is one of the best chances a MAC team has all season long in knocking off a BCS team. Miami OH should be one of the top teams in the East if they can settle down on a QB to lead their team. However, Vanderbilt is in complete rebuilding mode and fields one of their worst teams in years. These teams played each other last year in Nashville and Vandy only won by 11 points 24-13. A hungry Miami returns 17 starters in this rematch game, while the Commodores only return 9 (3 on offense). Vandy lost their leading WR, RB and their entire O-Line, but their whole secondary returns on D.
2. Week 1 (Aug. 30) - Northern Illinois @ Minnesota
TV: 6:00 PM on Big Ten Network (HD)
This game is huge for both teams who want to wash the taste from their mouths they got from last season. Both of these teams combined for 3 wins all of last year. For NIU, this is their biggest chance in years to get over the 20-year hump of not beating a Big 10 team (Wisconsin '88). Minnesota is in year 2 of a slow, trodding rebuilding mode and 2nd year HC Tim Brewster still has to prove he can coach as well as well as he can recruit top talent. NIU has turned from one of the least experienced teams to one of the most experienced in just one year, returning basically all 22 starters.
3. Week 1 (Aug. 30) - Western Michigan @ Nebraska
TV: 6:00 PM on FSN PPV
WMU may be the most talented team in the West and face a tough challenge in their opener in Lincoln, NE. The Broncos have the top defense in the MAC, fielding the best secondary by far and strong D-Linemen and Linebackers. With weapons abound on offense, JR QB Tim Hiller just needs to find a way to get the ball to them without making the same mistakes he did last year throwing 15 INTs. It's a good matchup between a transitioning middle of the Big 12 team against a top MAC team. An upset is very possible and would be huge for the program in Kalamazoo. Nebraska has to rebound from the horrible defensive year they had last year and has a new, more balanced offensive attack with former LSU DC Bo Pelini as their new HC.
4. Week 1 (Aug. 30) - Boston College @ Kent St (Cleveland)
TV: 6:30 PM on ESPNU (HD)
This is an interesting matchup because it is going to be played in the Cleveland Browns Stadium, which should provide an exciting atmosphere to start the season. I'm happy this is on TV, because we all get a chance at watching RB Eugene Jarvis who is one of the best talents the MAC has to offer. The unfortunate part is that he will be running in to the brick wall that is the BC defense, who was #2 in rushing D last season. Kent's D is nothing to shout about, with an especially shallow secondary, so we'll see how the Kent O can perform in a tough matchup for the Golden Flashes.
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