MAC Football Notes - Week 6

Updated 10/3/1998

ESPN's Thursday Night game originates from Marshall Stadium in Huntington, W.Va. and features just one of several key MAC matchups this week as Western Michigan faces the Thundering Herd.

MAC East Division Update:
Akron won its second consecutive divisional game, a 37-20 victory over Miami, to take command in the East Division. The Zips continue their quest for the East title with a divisional game at Bowling Green this week. Three-time defending MAC champion Marshall opened league play with a 47-14 win over Buffalo. This week the Herd hosts West Division rival Western Michigan in an ESPN Thursday night game. Buffalo is at Ohio in the only other East Division game. Kent State (at Central Michigan) and Miami (home versus Ball State) play West Division teams.

MAC West Division Update:
Northern Illinois, with a 43-14 win at Ball State, tied Western Michigan for the top spot in the West as both teams have 1-0 divisional records. The Broncos defeated Ohio 23-10 and play at defending East Division and MAC champion Marshall this week (Thursday night on ESPN). Eastern Michigan opens its MAC schedule with a game at Toledo, while two other teams play East Division foes - Central Michigan hosting Kent State and Ball State at Miami. Northern Illinois steps out of league by hosting Central Florida.

Take II:
This week's ESPN Thursday night game will originate from Marshall Stadium/James F. Edwards Field in Huntington, W.Va., and features a rematch of last year's MAC Championship game between Marshall and Western Michigan. The Thundering Herd captured a 34-30 thriller by scoring the winning touchdown with four seconds remaining in what was the second most watched college football game ever on ESPN2. Mike Tirico, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Dr. Jerry Punch will describe all the action. ESPN also televised a Thursday night game from Huntington last year between Marshall and Toledo, a 38-13 Thundering Herd victory.

Smith Continues To Lead The Nation:
Akron defensive back Dwight Smith picked off two more enemy passes in the Zips' 37-20 win over Miami. Smith has a national-best eight interceptions this year, including seven in the last three games. The MAC record for interceptions in a season is 12 by Eastern Michigan's Bob Navarro in 1989.

Neal Nears Record:
Western Michigan wide receiver Steve Neal has his eyes on the league's all-time record for receptions and receiving yards. Neal is 30 receptions and 307 yards shy of the MAC career standard of 229 receptions and 3,513 yards set by Kent State's Eugene Baker from 1995-98. Neal's most recent outing resulted in seven receptions for 113 yards in WMU's 23-10 victory over Ohio.

Huskie Duo Sets Mark:
For the first time in league history, a 99-yard pass play was accomplished, setting a MAC record and bettering the former standard of 98 yards. Northern Illinois' flanker Justin McCareins hauled in a pass from Dan Urban that resulted in the 99-yard touchdown in a 43-14 win at Ball State. McCareins leads the MAC in all-purpose yardage (160.5), receiving yards per game (124.3) and yards per reception (19.9). The previous long play of 98 yards was accomplished three times, most recently on a Jose Davis pass to Eugene Baker of Kent State versus Central Florida in 1997.

Falcons Freshman Foils Flashes:
Bowling Green freshman Janssen Patton debuted in the starting lineup with a record-setting performance in the Falcons' first win of the year, an 18-11 decision at Kent State. The Stone Mountain, Ga., native picked off three passes and returned one of them 74 yards for a touchdown. The other two thefts stopped KSU scoring drives, one at the BGSU five-yard line and the other in the end zone with 5:43 remaining. For good measure, Patton also recovered a blocked punt at the KSU 12 -yard line.

Pinkel Moves Up:
Toledo's 41-0 conquest of Central Michigan was the 67th career win for Rocket head coach Gary Pinkel. That moves Pinkel into fourth place all-time in MAC history in overall wins, 10 behind Bowling Green's Doyt Perry for third place. It was also Pinkel's 48th MAC win, tying him for fifth best all-time with Al Molde (Western Michigan, 1987-96).

Blackney Ties Walker:
Bowling Green head coach Gary Blackney, who earlier in the week announced his resignation effective the end of the 2000 season, earned his 59th career win in the Falcons' 18-11 triumph at Kent State. The win ties Blackney with former Miami coach Randy Walker for ninth place all-time in league history for overall wins. It was also Blackney's 46th MAC win, tying him again with Walker for eighth place.

Another Bronco Record:
Western Michigan continued its assault on the MAC attendance record book. The Broncos set the league record for the third time in the last two years with a MAC record crowd of 36,361 in its 2000 home opener, a 56-0 conquest of Indiana State. The previous record for Waldo Stadium was 36,102 last year versus Central Michigan.

This Week's Games - Thursday, October 5

Western Michigan Broncos (4-1) at Marshall Thundering Herd (2-2), 8:00 p.m.
Marshall Stadium (40,000/artificial turf) Huntington, W.Va.
The Coaches: WMU-Gary Darnell (Oklahoma State 1970) 26-13/third year; Marshall-Bob Pruett (Marshall 1965) 52-6/fifth year.
Series: WMU leads 21-9
Television: ESPN
This game is a rematch of last year's MAC championship game won by Marshall 34-30 ... the Herd also topped the Broncos in last year's regular season, 31-17 in Kalamazoo ... the 1999 meetings were the first since 1984 and allowed the Herd to snap WMU's six-game winning streak in the series ... Western Michigan enters the game with a league-best four-game winning streak, having won four in a row after a season-opening 19-7 loss at Wisconsin ... Marshall's 47-14 win last week over Buffalo snapped the Herd's two-game losing streak ... both quarterbacks are coming off of career-high passing games ... in the Broncos' 23-10 win over Ohio, Jeff Welsh completed 23-of-33 for a career-high 332 yards ... the Herd's Byron Leftwich passed for a career-best 378 yards on 25-of-36 completions ... Leftwich ranks No. 1 in the MAC in passing efficiency (141.6) while Welsh is second (131.1) and both are first-year starters who replaced QBs that set many school and MAC records ... against Buffalo, Leftwich tossed TD passes of 61 yards to Darrius Watts and 53 yards to David Foye ... MU's Nate Poole needs 57 receiving yards to move into the MAC's all-time top 10 ... with one more reception, WMU's Steve Neal will become just the second receiver in MAC history to have 200 receptions ... the Broncos' 4-1 start is the best under Gary Darnell, now in his fourth year, and is the best since the 1994 squad started 5-0 before finishing 7-4 ... Marshall has won 10 straight MAC regular season contests.

This Week's Games - Saturday, October 7

Kent State Golden Flashes (0-5) at Central Michigan Chippewas (1-4), 1:00 p.m.
Kelly Shorts Stadium (30,199/artificial turf) Mount Pleasant, Mich.
The Coaches: KSU-Dean Pees (Bowling Green 1971) 2-25/third year; CMU-Mike DeBord (Manchester 1978) 1-4/first year.
Series: CMU leads 20-8
These two teams have met every year since 1973 with the Chippewas winning 10 of the last 11 meetings ... only KSU's 60-37 triumph in 1997 has blemished CMU's series mark since 1998 ... KSU is searching for its first win of 2000 after a narrow 18-11 home loss to Bowling Green ... CMU has lost three in a row following a 17-7 triumph over Akron on Sept. 9 ... the Chippewas have been shutout twice thus far in 2000 and have scored just 20 points in the last three games ... CMU has suffered two shutouts in a season twice since 1961 (1998 and this year) ... the Chippewas' Brian Leigeb is now second all-time in career tackles at CMU with 403 after registering 14 stops at Toledo ... in its loss to BGSU, Kent State held a 323-235 edge in total offense, however the Flashes were flagged for 14 penalties for 113 yards, had a punt blocked and lost the ball three times on interceptions ... WR Jurron Kelly grabbed a career-high 11 receptions for 138 yards and also grabbed a two-point conversion ... CMU's Pete Shepherd has attempted 101 passes this year without throwing an interception (the NCAA record is no interceptions in 224 attempts by Virginia's Matt Blundin in 1991) ... Shepherd ranks third in the MAC in passing efficiency (127.0) ... CMU freshman Steve Messam caught a career-best five passes for 57 yards at Toledo.

Central Florida Knights (3-2) at Northern Illinois Huskies (2-2), 1:05 (CT)
Huskie Stadium (31,000/Atsro Turf) DeKalb, Ill.
The Coaches: Mike Kruczek (Boston College 1976) 16-11/third year; NIU-Joe Novak (Miami 1967) 10-38/fifth season.
The Series: UCF leads 1-0
Television: Sunshine Network
The Huskies are coming off a 43-14 trouncing of Ball State for NIU's first win in Muncie since 1983 (the same year NIU won its only MAC championship) ... WR Justin McCareins teamed up with backup QB Dan Urban on a MAC record 99-yard pass play in the third quarter ... McCareins grabbed four receptions for 150 yards and leads the MAC in receiving yards per game (124.3), yards per catch (19.9) and all-purpose yards (160.5) ... NIU rushed for 192 yards versus the Cardinals despite not having any one player gain more than 49 yards ... the Huskies rank fourth in the MAC in rushing offense (184.5 yards per game) and lead all West Division teams in total offense (396.0) ... SE Darrell Hill (fractured finger on his right hand) may be out for the year ... in his place, freshman Matt Dunker moved from tight end to make his first two career receptions, including a 44-yard TD ... NIU also had its first safety since 1994 in the win at Ball State ... Central Florida captured a 31-10 win at Eastern Michigan last week ... Knights' QB Ryan Schneider completed 27-of-38 passes for 365 yards and two TDs with 12 of those passes in the hands of Tyson Hinshaw for 206 yards ... on Sept. 16 of this year UCF lost to MAC member Akron, 35-24 ... this will be the Knights' third road game versus a MAC opponent this season.

Akron Zips (3-2) at Bowling Green Falcons (1-4), 1:30 p.m.
Doyt L. Perry Stadium (30,599/grass) Bowling Green, Ohio
The Coaches: Akron-Lee Owens (Bluffton College 1977) 22-38/sixth year; BGSU-Gary Blackney (Connecticut 1967) 59-45-2/10th year.
The Series: BGSU leads 7-4-2.
The Zips look to strengthen their hold on first place in the MAC East Division while the Falcons are seeking their second straight win ... Akron rolled to a 37-20 win over Miami, pulling away with two-fourth quarter touchdown runs of 13 and 20 yards by Brandon Payne ... Payne, the 1999 MAC Freshman of the Year, rushed for a career-high 188 yards and three touchdowns ... DB Dwight Smith intercepted his seventh and eighth passes of the year and continues to lead the nation in that category ... in winning its last three games, the Zips have rolled up 1,355 yards of total offense (451.7 avg.) and scored 95 points ... BG's defense had a "bend but don't break" performance at Kent State in keying an 18-11 win that snapped the Falcons' four-game losing streak ... Falcons cornerback Janssen Patton, a freshman making his first start, intercepted three passes and ran one back 74 yards for a touchdown, with his two other thefts coming deep in BG territory ... BG scored its lone offensive touchdown on a 45-yard scramble by QB Andy Sahm ... BG's defense has forced 14 turnovers, helping the Falcons (1.6) rank second in the MAC to Toledo (2.2) in turnover margin ... the winning team in this series has scored 50 or more points the last two years, Akron 55-25 in 1999 and BG 58-21 in 1998.

Ball State Cardinals (0-4) at Miami RedHawks (3-2), 2:00 p.m.
Yager Stadium (30,012/grass) Oxford, Ohio.
The Coaches: BSU-Bill Lynch (Butler 1977) 21-39/sixth season; Miami-Terry Hoeppner (Franklin College 1969) 10-6/second year.
Series: Miami leads 13-7-1.
The RedHawks return home for their second home game of the season after a 37-20 road loss at Akron ... the Cardinals are looking to end the nation's longest current losing streak at 21 games ... BSU's last win came on Oct. 3, 1998 in an 18-13 triumph over Northern Illinois ... BSU dropped a 43-13 decision to Northern Illinois last week in Muncie ... according to this week's Sagrin NCAA Football Rating's, BSU's schedule, which includes Florida and Kansas State, is the fourth toughest ... Corey Parchman ranks second in the MAC in yards per reception at 19.8 and leads the Cardinals with 158 receiving yards ... David Westbrook caught his team-leading second TD pass versus NIU ... Miami tied a school record with 92 plays at Akron ... it was the fourth time in school history that the RedHawks have run that many plays in a game but the first time they have lost ... the Zips held Miami to a season low 174 passing yards but the RedHawks still are second in the MAC with 260 passing yards per game ... the RedHawks will be trying to avoid back-to-back MAC losses for the first time since 1994 and back-to-back losses for the first time since 1997 ... WR Sly Johnson caught a career-high nine passes but gained a season-low 174 yards ... Johnson ranks fourth in the league in receiving yards per game (88.2) and fifth in receptions (5.2) ... RedHawk QB Mike Bath has 44 career TD passes and needs just one to break the tie he has with Sam Ricketts for the all-time Miami record ... Miami has won the last three in a row versus Ball State.

Toledo Rockets (4-1) at Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-4), 4:00 p.m.
Rynearson Stadium (30,200/artificial) Ypsilanti, Mich.
The Coaches: UT-Gary Pinkel (Kent State 1975) 67-37-3/10th year; EMU-Jeff Woodruff (Kent State 1979) 1-4/first season.
Series: UT leads 17-10.
The Rockets' 41-0 conquest of Central Michigan last week was Toledo's first shutout since beating Eastern Michigan, 14-0, in 1993 ... the Eagles dropped their fourth consecutive game, a 31-10 loss to Central Florida ... EMU has won the last two meetings, 20-13 last year and 10-7 in 1998 ... UT's last win over the Eagles came in 1997, 38-35 ... Rocket WR Mel Long has caught a pass in 40 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the nation ... UT's Chester Taylor cruised for 152 yards versus CMU and is averaging a MAC best 134.6 yards per game ... Taylor has 12 career 100-yard games, including four this season ... EMU senior QB Walt Church is listed fourth in the MAC in passing efficiency (121.0) and has completed a league second-best 62.8% (120-of-191) of his passes ... the Eagles' Kenny Christian, coming off a MAC record 20 receptions, caught eight passes for 89 yards versus UCF and ranks first in the league and the nation with 9.0 receptions per game and second in the MAC with 92.2 yards per game ... this game features a matchup of two Kent State graduates now MAC head coaches, UT's Gary Pinkel and EMU's Jeff Woodruff ... Pinkel and Woodruff served together on the staff of Don James at Washington from 1984-90.

Buffalo Bulls (1-4) at Ohio Bobcats (2-3), 7:00 p.m.
Peden Stadium (27,605/grass) Athens, Ohio.
The Coaches: UB-Craig Cirbus (Buffalo 1980) 18-42/sixth year; Ohio-Jim Grobe (Virginia 1975) 28-32-1/sixth year
Series: Ohio leads 4-2
Television: Ohio Sports Network
Ohio has lost two games in a row while Buffalo is coming off a 47-14 drubbing at the hands of three-time defending MAC champion Marshall ... this game marks the end of a six-game schedule that has the Bulls on the road four times ... Ohio has won the last three meetings in this series, including a 45-6 conquest last year ... Bobcat QB Dontrell Jackson completed a 75-yard TD pass to Chad Brinker, the longest of Jackson's career and the third longest in school history ... brothers Donnie and Bop White each recorded an interception at WMU, the second game they have accomplished the feat, previously having a theft each last year versus Buffalo ... Ohio's rushing game is producing 286.4 yards per game to rank seventh nationally, but the Bobcats top rusher, Jamel Patterson, is averaging just 62.6 yards per game ... Bulls' QB Joe Freedy threw for two TDs at Marshall, including one of 72 yards to Andre Ford, the longest pass play for UB since 1996 ... Freedy is averaging 204 passing yards a game, up from his production of 161 yards per game last year ... LB Chris Gray had double figure tackles for the third week in a row with 11 against the Thundering Herd ... Gary's 10.2 tackles per game are tied for the 10th best total in the MAC ... the Bulls' weakness thus far in 2000 is a MAC high in both lost fumbles (9) and turnovers lost (16).

MAC Record Watch (Career) - current players in bold

Receiving Yards
1.) 3,513 - Eugene Baker (Kent State) 1995-98
2.) 3,207 - Steve Neal (Western Michigan) 1997-2000
3.) 3,053 - Reggie Allen (Central Michigan) 1995-98
4.) 2,866 - Bryan Schorman (Central Michigan) 1995-98
5.) 2,679 - Steve Hunter (Bowling Green) 1982-85
6.) 2,507 - Mark Szlachclc (Bowling Green) 1982-85
7.) 2,491- Ron Heard (Bowling Green) 1986-89
8.) 2,320 - Justin McCareins (Northern Illinois) 1997-2000
9.) 2,268 - Jeff Groth (Bowling Green) 1975-78
10.) 2,256 - Deon Chester (Ball State) 1984-87
11.) 2,241 - Todd Snyder (Ohio) 1967-69
12.) 2,231 - Reggie Thornton (Bowling Green) 1986-89
13.) 2,198 - Nate Poole (Marshall) 1997-2000

1.) 229 - Eugene Baker (Kent State) 1995-98
2.) 199 - Steve Neal (Western Michigan) 1997-2000
3.) 184 - Reggie Allen (Central Michigan) 1995-98
4.) 183 - Bryan Schorman (Central Michigan) 1995-98
5.) 182 - Mark Szlachclc (Bowling Green) 1982-85
6.) 176 - Steve Hunter (Bowling Green) 1982-85
7.) 171 - Don Fair (Toledo) 1969-71
t-8.) 163 - Justin McCareins (Northern Illinois) 1997-2000
t-8.) 163 - Nate Poole (Marshall) 1997-2000

9.) 158 - Reggie Thornton (Bowling Green) 1986-89
10.) 157 - Andre Wallace (Western Michigan) 1991-94

Touchdown Passes
1.) 100 - Chad Pennington (Marshall) 1997-99
2.) 87 - Tim Lester (Western Michigan) 1996-99
3.) 63 - Brian McClure (Bowling Green) 1982-85
4.) 57 - Jose Davis (Kent State) 1997-99
5.) 52 - Ryan Huzjak (Toledo) 1993-96
6.) 49 - Brad Tayles (Western Michigan ) 1989-92
7.) 46 - Ryan Henry (Bowling Green) 1992-95
8.) 45 - Jay McDanagh (Western Michigan) 1993-95
t-9.) 44 - Mike Bath (Miami) 1997-2000
t-9.) 44 - Chris Wallace (Toledo) 1995-98
t-9.) 44 - Sam Ricketts (Miami) 1995-98

Touchdown Receptions
1.) 35 - Eugene Baker, Kent State (1995-98)
2.) 27 - Ronnie Redd, Bowling Green (1991-94)
3.) 26 - Steve Neal, Western Michigan (1997-2000)
4.) 25 - Randy Moss, Marshall (1997)
5.) 24 - Brian Oliver, Ball State (1991-94)
t-6.) 22 - Justin McCareins, Northern Illinois (1997-2000)
t-6.) 22 - Jim Swierczek, Marshall (1951-53)

Coaching Victories

Wins Coach/School/Year
110 Herb Deromedi/Central Michigan/1978-93
108 Bill Hess/Ohio /1958-77
 77 Doyt Perry/Bowling Green/1955-64
 67 Gary Pinkel/Toledo/1991-2000
 66 Trevor Rees/Kent State University/1951-63
 64 Bill Mallory/Miami/1969-73/NIU/1980-83
 62 Al Molde/Western Michigan/1987-96
 60 Paul Schudel/Ball State/1985-94
 59 Gary Blackney/Bowling Green/1991-2000
 59 Randy Walker/Miami/1990-98