Football on a Wednesday? Yes, football on a Wednesday. We have the MAC to thank for SIX GAMES on the rare Wednesday college football slate, the debut evening for all 12 of the league’s teams. America’s favorite football conference was one of the first to cancel and the last to start, and it all gets going with a MACtion packed night.
A brief preview with a little to know about each game…
Eastern Michigan @ Kent State | 6:00 p.m. ESPN+
Eastern Michigan was all set to open its season against Kentucky in Lexington until the pandemic happened and the Southeastern Conference canceled all out-of-conference games. Now the Eagles kick off their season two months later against Kent State in a rematch of 2019’s regular season finale. Kent State won that one, 34-26, to spoil Senior Day in Ypsilanti. It was the third of four straight wins to end the year for Kent State, the fourth being a Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl victory over Utah State and first-round pick Jordan Love. Eastern Michigan went on to lose to Pittsburgh in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Remember, Eastern Michigan and its now senior defensive end Turan Rush ended Terry Wilson’s season last year.
Spread: Kent State -4
Western Michigan @ Akron | 6:00 p.m. ESPN3
Look for the home team Akron offense to be much improved from a year ago. It won’t take much after the Zips’ offense ranked dead last in college football in a season that ended with a winless 0-12 record. Things were so bad, Akron failed to score a touchdown in five of eight MAC games in 2019.
A double-digit road favorite for good reason, Western Michigan is also the favorite in the MAC’s West division and returns the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in linebacker Treshaun Heyward. Heyward ranked fifth in the nation with 132 total tackles.
Spread: Western Michigan -20.5
Buffalo @ Northern Illinois | 7:00 p.m. ESPN2
An experienced Buffalo team fresh off the school’s first ever bowl win will travel to DeKalb for a cross-divisional opener at Northern Illinois. Speaking of DeKalb, did you know Cindy Crawford is from there? Crawford was a student at DeKalb High when she placed in a nationwide modeling contest and signed with her first agency.
That Pepsi ad, man…
What were we talking about?
Spread: Buffalo -14
Ohio @ Central Michigan | 7:00 p.m. ESPN
Former Florida head coach Jim McElwain stopped hugging sharks and is back on the Central Michigan sideline as the reigning MAC Coach of the Year. He was an easy pick for the award in his debut MAC season after he took the Chippewas from a 1-11 record in 2018 to the MAC Championship game in 2019.
On the away sideline, Ohio plays its first game since losing Nathan Rourke to the second round of the CFL Draft. Ohio’s three-year starter at QB, Rourke won three consecutive bowl games with the Bobcats and accounted for 77 touchdowns in his career, the second-most in school history. A native of Canada, Rourke has been called “Canada’s Prodigal Son.” His younger brother, Kurtis Rourke, is his replacement at Ohio.
Spread: Ohio -3
Ball State @ Miami (OH) | 7:00 p.m. CBSSN
Miami is your defending MAC champion and the league’s preseason pick to repeat in 2020 due to its wealth of experience on both sides of the ball, offense especially. Freshman of the Year QB Brett Gabbert (younger brother of former Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert) is a year older after 14 starts as a true freshman.
That being said, Miami’s offense may be the second best offense in this game. Ball State scored a league-high 34.8 points per game and returns everyone.
Spread: Miami -1
Bowling Green @ Toledo | 8:00 p.m. ESPNU
Remember Bryant Koback? He signed with Kentucky out of the Class of 2017 and enrolled early to get a head start in the Wildcats’ backfield. However, Koback had a change of heart after one year in Lexington and moved back home to Toledo to play for his hometown university. (There was some drama over the transfer.) Now Koback is entering his third year as a Rocket and already has over 2,000 yards rushing in two seasons.
Bowling Green has its own stud running back in Andrew Clair, a two-time All-MAC selection and school record holder for yards per carry in a season (6.8 ypc in 2017).
Spread: Toledo -24