A mascot for the Northern Illinois Huskies is seen on the field against the Florida State Seminoles during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 1, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) (Chris Trotman / March 10, 2013)
Here are five games to watch this upcoming season in the Mid-American Conference:
Saturday, Sept. 7
The Buzz: The Mid-American Conference kicks off league play with this early East Divisional battle. Kent State is coming off its best season ever – a top 25 ranking and its first bowl game in four decades – but lost head coach Darrell Hazell after he took the head coaching job at Purdue. Paul Haynes takes over after spending last season as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas. Bowling Green is coming off its best season under fifth-year coach Dave Clawson. The Falcons featured the best defense in the MAC last season including the No. 1 rushing defense, which will get a big test against Kent State’s dynamic rushing duo of Dri Archer and Trayion Durham, who combined for more than 2,700 yards in 2012.
Northern Illinois at Kent State
Saturday, Oct. 5
The Buzz: A rematch of last season’s thrilling double-overtime conference championship game won by Northern Illinois. The Huskies went on to play Florida State in the Orange Bowl, losing 31-10. The return of quarterback Jordan Lynch – who led the conference in total offense – makes Northern Illinois the favorite in the MAC. During last season’s win, Lynch combined for 372 total yards of offense and four touchdowns, including a two-yard touchdown run in the second overtime to lift the Huskies to their second straight conference championship.
Ohio at Bowling Green
Tuesday, Nov. 12 ESPNU
The Buzz: In the eight years that Frank Solich has been the coach at Ohio, the Bobcats have won eight or more games in a season five times including last season’s 9-4 record. Ohio’s played in two of the past four MAC championship games as well. Last season’s 26-14 loss to Bowling Green sent the Bobcats into a three-game losing streak that knocked them out of contention in the East Division race. The loss also helped snap a series three-game losing streak by the Falcons.
Ball State at Northern Illinois
Wednesday, Nov. 13 ESPN2
The Buzz: After opening its conference schedule with back-to-back loses – including one to Northern Illinois – Ball State won six straight league games to finish with its best conference record since 2008. This match-ups features the top two offenses in the MAC last season. Last season’s game featured more than 1,000 yards of total offense. Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch and Ball State’s Keith Wenning were two of five quarterbacks in the league who passes for more than 3,000 yards and threw for more than 20 touchdowns last season.
Northern Illinois at Toledo
Wednesday, Nov. 20 ESPN2
The Buzz: Two of the top three offenses in the MAC hook up in front of a nationally televised audience when the Toledo Rockets host Northern Illinois. Toledo coach Matt Campbell led the Rockets to a 9-4 record in his first season with the program. He did so with the help of running back David Fluellen, who was second in the league in rushing with 124.8 yards per game and quarterback Terrance Owens. Toledo started out 5-0 in the league before stumbling late with back-to-back losses to Ball State and Northern Illinois, which ended the Rockets chances at competing for the West Division title.
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