MAC Openers: Saturday's action includes the first league contests of the year with Miami at Eastern Michigan and Akron at Central Michigan. Both games are slated for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
Rockets Rock The Valley: Toledo, the preseason choice to win the MAC West Division, used a stifling defense to hand highly regarded Penn State its first loss ever from a Mid-American Conference team via a 24-6 decision, Saturday at Happy Valley. Gary Pinkel's crew limited the Nittany Lions to 166 yards of total offense, including just 30 rushing yards. UT's Chester Taylor rushed for 141 yards on 29 carries and gave his team a 7-0 lead by capping the first possession with a 13-yard TD run. Tavares Bolden completed 18-of-28 passes for 140 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. The Rockets did not commit a turnover on their 82 offensive plays.
Close to the Edge: Two MAC teams scored late in the game to secure wins. Miami's Mike Bath, the league's top rated returning passer, passed for two touchdowns the final three minutes to rally his team to a 33-30 win at Vanderbilt. Bath hooked up with Mike Sullivan (4 yards) and Cal Murray (2 yards) while completing 24-of-41 for 358 yards and four touchdowns. Eastern Michigan signalcaller Walter Church guided his team to a 32-25 win at home versus Connecticut. Church hooked up with Kevin Walter from four yards out with 1:50 remaining. Scott Russell's late interception iced the victory.
First Game: Two MAC head coaches made their debuts last week. Eastern Michigan's Jeff Woodruff saw his squad beat Connecticut 32-25. Central Michigan's Mike DeBord hand his hands full as the Chippewas dropped a 48-0 contest to the Purdue Boilermakers and Heisman candidate Drew Brees.
Welcome: Three quarterbacks in the league have replaced record setters at their respective schools. Marshall's Byron Leftwich for the departed Chad Pennington, Western Michigan's Jeff Welsh for Tim Lester and Kent State's Zach Williams for Jose Davis. Leftwich (13-20, 205 yards, 2 TDs) led the Herd to a 63-7 win over Southeast Missouri State but will face a more formidable foe at top 25 Michigan State this week. Welsh (20-of-39, 243 yards, 1 TD) and the Broncos battled No. 4 Wisconsin before falling 19-7. This week WMU's Big Ten road continues at Iowa. Williams and the Golden Flashes fell at Pittsburgh 30-7 and take on top 25 ranked Purdue this week.
First Time: Marshall and its nationally best 18-game winning streak are on the line this week at Michigan State. This will also be the Thundering Herd's first game ever against a Big Ten opponent. Since rejoining the I-A ranks in 1997, Marshall has wins over teams from the ACC (Clemson), SEC (South Carolina), Mountain West (Brigham Young), Big East (Temple) and C-USA (Louisville and Army).
MAC Offensive Players of the Week
Toledo tailback Chester Taylor (Sr., River Rouge, Mich.)
Taylor rushed for 141 yards on 29 carries, an average of 4.9 yards per carry, and scored two touchdowns in leading the Rockets to a 24-6 win at Penn State. It was the first time the Nittany Lions had lost to a MAC team after 11 consecutive wins. Taylor's 13-yard scoring run capped UT's opening drive and gave them the lead for good. Taylor added a one-yard touchdown 32 seconds before intermission for a 17-0 margin. Taylor's 141 yards were just 25 yards shy of Penn State's entire total yards output (166).
Miami quarterback Mike Bath (Sr., Celina, Ohio)
Bath led Miami's comeback from a 30-20 deficit by passing for two touchdowns in the final three minutes for a 33-30 victory at Vanderbilt. Bath led RedHawk scoring drives of 84, 69 and 47 yards on Miami's three fourth-quarter possessions. Bath completed 24-of-41 passes for a school-record 358 yards and a personal-best-tying four touchdown passes. Bath threw the winning score on a fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line.
MAC Pepsi Defensive Player of the Week
Western Michigan linebacker Garrett Soldano (Sr., Onstead, Mich.)
Soldano made a career-high 21 tackles, 11 unassisted, in a 19-7 loss at No. 4 ranked Wisconsin. He also recorded one pass break up and two QB hurries in helping the Bronco defense limit the Badgers to one offensive touchdown and 252 yards of total offense.
MAC Pepsi Special Teams Player of the Week
Miami kick return specialist Milt Bowen (So., Newfield, N.J.)
Bowen averaged 33 yards per kickoff return (4 for 132) against Vanderbilt. His second half returns of 61 and 50 yards sparked the Miami comeback in a 33-30 win. Bowen also had a special teams solo tackle as well as four solo tackles and an assist from his cornerback position.
Marshall Thundering Herd (1-0) at Michigan State Spartans (0-0), noon
Spartan Stadium (72,027/artificial turf) East Lansing, Mich.
The Coaches: Marshall-Bob Pruett (Marshall 1965) 51-4/fifth year; MSU-Bobby Williams (Purdue 1982) 1-0/first full year
Series: first meeting
The Thundering Herd has the nation's longest win streak at 18 after a 63-7 dispatching of Southeast Missouri State on Aug. 31 ... in the SEMO win, 11 different players carried the ball for the Herd, four QBs saw action and nine players had a pass reception ... QB Byron Leftwich debuted with 13-of-20 completions for 205 yards and two TDs ... Nate Poole grabbed four of those passes for 69 yards and one score ... sophomore Brandon Carey led all Herd rushers 80 yards on 11 carries in his collegiate debut ... Marshall is 5-2 versus Division I-A non-conference opponents since rejoining the I-A ranks in 1997 and has won at Clemson and at South Carolina during that time ... Michigan State opens its first full season under head coach Bobby Williams, who coached the Spartans to a 37-34 Citrus Bowl win over Florida at the end of last season ... MSU finished last year ranked No. 7 in both polls, Marshall No. 10 in each poll ... the Spartans are ranked No. 24 (A.P.) and No. 23 (ESPN) while Marshall is garnering enough votes to be listed No. 32 and No. 29, respectively, in the polls.
Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0) at Bowling Green Falcons (0-1), noon
Doyt L. Perry Stadium (30,599/natural grass) Bowling Green, Ohio
The Coaches: BGSU-Gary Blackney (Connecticut 1967) 58-42-2/10th year; Pittsburgh-Walt Harris (Pacific 1968) 14-21/fourth year at Pittsburgh
Series: Pittsburgh leads 1-0
Television: ESPN Regional
The Falcons open their 82nd home season with Pittsburgh's first ever visit to a MAC campus ... Pittsburgh's all-time 13-0 record versus MAC teams includes a 30-10 win over the Falcons last year ... the Panthers have also defeated MAC member Kent State in both 1999 and 2000 at Three Rivers Stadium ... BGSU is coming off a 42-7 loss at Michigan before a record crowd of 110,585 ... BG's lone score came on a 42-yard pass from Andy Sahm to redshirt freshman Andre Pinchem ... Ricky Schneider was pressed into emergency duty as a punter and responded with nine boots for an average of 40 yards and a long kick of 58 ... WR Kurt Gerling caught a pass in his 23rd consecutive game, which ties him for seventh places on the list of active players, but suffered a broken right collarbone and will be out four to five weeks ... Pittsburgh dropped a 30-7 setback on Kent State last week.
Akron Zips (0-1) at Central Michigan Eagles (0-1), 1:00 ***MAC Game***
Kelly/Shorts Stadium (30,199/artificial surface) Mount Pleasant, Mich.
The Coaches: Akron-Lee Owens (Bluffton College 1977) 19-37/sixth year; CMU-Mike DeBord (Manchester 1978) 0-1/first year
Series: Akron leads 8-7-1
This will be the first MAC game this season for both schools ... Akron was tabbed to finish second in the MAC News Media Association preseason poll while CMU was selected fourth in the West ... the teams met in this series every year from 1988 through 1998 before not meeting in the 1999 season ... they have split the last six meetings, with the Chippewas taking the last meeting, 28-27 in 1998 in Mount Pleasant ... the home team has won the last four meetings ... both suffered losses last week while facing Heisman candidates, Akron dropping a 52-23 decision at Virginia Tech and CMU a 48-0 encounter at Purdue ... Akron rolled up 410 yards of total offense behind QB Butchie Washington (14-of-30, 248 yards, 1 TD) ... the Zips top two rushers, Jimmie Gray (12-80) and Tony McCray (4-42) combined for 112 yards on 16 attempts ... in the loss at Purdue, CMU's Pete Shepherd completed 10-of-13 passes for 82 yards but the team produced only 215 yards of total offense ... CMU has won its last three home openers ... this will be the first home game for Chippewas head coach Mike DeBord.
Miami RedHawks (1-0) at Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-0) ***MAC Game***
Rynearson Stadium (30,200, astroturf) Ypsilanti, Mich.
The Coaches: Miami-Terry Hoeppner (Franklin College 1969) 8-4/second year; EMU-Jeff Woodruff (Kent State 1979) 1-0/first season.
Series: Miami leads 14-4.
This will be the second consecutive home game for EMU and second straight road game for Miami ... both teams are coming off last minute wins, the Eagles 32-25 over Connecticut and the RedHawks 33-30 at Vanderbilt ... EMU has won four of its last five at home with only an overtime loss to Western Michigan spoiling that record ... Miami is 5-2 in road games with Terry Hoeppner as head coach ... the RedHawks have won four in a row in this series and seven of the last eight ... Miami won last year's meeting in Oxford, 35-14 behind four touchdowns from Travis Prentice ... the RedHawks jumped to a 28-0 first-quarter lead in that contest ... in last week's game at Vanderbilt, Miami QB Mike Bath passed for four touchdowns and a school record 358 yards ... Sly Johnson made his return with six receptions for 134 yards, including a 91-yard TD, and Ty Buxton added nine catches for 134 yards ... EMU, which finished with just 13 rushing TDs in 1999, had three rushing scores versus the Huskies last week ... the Eagles also finished last in the MAC in rushing in 1999 (82.6 ypg) but piled up 150 yards on the ground in their season opener, the best production in EMU's last 14 games ... Walter Church's 21 completions gave him 590 for his career, a new school record over the former mark held by Charlie Batch ... EMU's linebacker trio of Kenny Philpot (14), Scott Russell (13) and Jason Short (11) combined for 38 tackles versus UConn.
Western Illinois Leathernecks (0-1) at Ball State Cardinals (0-1), 1:00
Ball State Stadium (21,581/grass) Muncie, Ind.
The Coaches: WIU-Don Patterson (Army 1973) 8-4/second year; BSU-Bill Lynch (Butler 1977) 21-36/sixth year.
Series: WIU leads 2-1.
The Cardinals battled the No. 7 ranked Florida Gators, trailing only 33-19 late in the game before falling 40-19 last week ... the Cardinals scored twice defensively ... Evan Triggs recorded the first safety versus Florida since 1991 and Cornelius Bowick recovered a Gator fumble in the end zone ... BSU's only offensive score came on a 49-yard pass from Talmadge Hill to Corey Parchman ...sophomore Marcus Merriweather gained a career high 74 rushing yards on 18 carries ... of the 60-man travel roster to Gainesville, 15 were true freshman ... the crowd of 85,095 was the largest ever to watch a Ball State football game ... WIU is coming off a 50-10 loss at Missouri ... the last meeting in this series was in 1995, a 20-7 BSU win ... the Cardinals have the nation's longest losing streak at 18 games.
Kent State Golden Flashes (0-1) at Purdue Boilermakers (1-0), 1:00
Ross-Aide Stadium (67,332, prescription athletic turf) West Lafayette, Ind.
The Coaches: KSU-Dean Pees (Bowling Green 1971) 2-21/third year; Purdue-Joe Tiller (Montana State 1965) 26-12/fourth year at Purdue.
Series: first meeting
The Golden Flashes make their second straight road trip after a season opening 30-7 loss at Pittsburgh ... the Boilermakers dispatched MAC member Central Michigan, 48-0, last week ... at QB, Zach Williams took over for the departed record setting Jose Davis and completed 18-of-31 passes for 205 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions ... KSU trailed at the half by only 13-7 but allowed 14 third-quarter points ... this will be the school's first game ever against a Big Ten foe as Kent State has played only against Penn State prior to the Nittany Lions joining the Big Ten ... KSU's only points in the season opener came on an 11-yard pass from Williams to Joel Reikowski ... the Flashes open at home next week against Youngstown State before playing eight consecutive league games ... Purdue is ranked No. 14 (A.P.) and 13 (ESPN).
Western Michigan Broncos (0-1) at Iowa Hawkeyes (0-1), 1:00 (CT)
Kinnick Stadium (70,397/grass) Iowa City Iowa
The Coaches: WMU-Gary Darnell (Oklahoma State 1970) 22-13/third year; Iowa-Kirk Ferentz (Connecticut 1978) 1-11/second year
Series: first meeting
Television: ESPN Regional
Both teams are coming off of season-opening losses ... WMU dropped a 19-7 contest at No. 4 Wisconsin while Iowa fell to No. 7 Kansas State 27-7 ... the Broncos allowed just one touchdown by the Badgers' offense with the other score coming on a punt return and limited Wisconsin to 252 yards of total offense ... QB Jeff Welsh, in replacing the graduated and WMU record holder Tim Lester, completed 20-of-39 for 243 yards and one touchdown ... OLB Anthony Allsburg, a former walk-on, recorded a pair of sacks ... the Broncos are playing two Big Ten schools in the same season for the first time in school history ... WMU faced Michigan and Michigan State in 1917, however the Spartans were not a member of the Big Ten at the time ... Iowa's only win last year came at the expense of another MAC team, Northern Illinois.
Ohio Bobcats (0-1) at Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-0), 1:30n (CT)
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (63,669/artificial turf) Minneapolis, Minn.
The Coaches: Ohio-Jim Grobe (Virginia 1975) 26-30-1/sixth year; UM-Glen Mason (Ohio State 1972) 17-19, third season at UM.
Series: UM leads 7-0-1
Television: MSC delayed at 11 p.m.
Ohio travels to the Midwest for its second straight game, having dropped a 25-15 contest at Iowa State last week ... the Golden Gophers opened with a 47-10 triumph over Louisiana-Monroe ... the Bobcats had a 6-0 lead versus the Cyclones on a five-yard run by Chad Brinker and was up 9-7 following a Kevin Kerr field goal in the second quarter ... Brinker's 68 yards led the Bobcats ground game, which accounted for 179 yards ... Raynald Ray had 163 all-purpose yards (43 rush, 30 receiving, 45 punt return, 45 kickoff return) and scored on a 28-yard pass from Dontrell Jackson ... Dave Zastudil, making a bid for his third straight MAC punting title, booted seven kicks for a 47.1 average ... Minnesota beat the Bobcats last year in the season opener for both teams, 33-7 ... the Golden Gophers have won the last seven meetings since a 35-35 tie in 1969 ... UM head coach Glen Mason served as the head coach at MAC member Kent State in 1986 and 1987 before leaving for Kansas (1988-96) ... Mason is 3-0 all-time versus Ohio.
Illinois State Redbirds (1-0) at Northern Illinois Huskies (0-1), 6:35 (CT)
Huskie Stadium (31,000/astro turf) DeKalb, Ill.
The Coaches: ISU-Denver Johnson (Tulsa 1981) 1-0/first year at ISU; NIU-Joe Novak (Miami University 1967) 8-37/fifth year.
Series: NIU leads 24-22-9.
Two turnovers inside the five-yard line hurt the Huskies in their season opening game, a 35-17 loss at Northwestern ... Illinois State routed Division II West Virginia Tech, 75-10 ... this is the 56th meeting in this series that began in 1906 ... NIU has won the last three, but this is the first meeting since 1992 ... NIU CB Benji Peacock was declared ineligible for the 2000 season just prior to the Northwestern game ... he is expected to remain in school and return for the 2001 season ... sophomore TB Thomas Hammock gained a career-best 74 yards and one touchdown in 14 attempts versus the Wildcats ... with four receptions versus NU, Justin McCareins boosted his career total to 142, tied for fourth best in school history.
Weber State Wildcats (1-0) at Toledo Rockets (1-0), 7:00
Glass Bowl (63,669/artificial turf) Toledo, Ohio
The Coaches: WSU-Jerry Graybeal (Idaho State 1979) 11-12/third year; UT-Gary Pinkel (Kent State 1975) 64-36-3/10th year.
Series: UT leads 1-0.
Toledo is coming off the biggest win in school history, a 24-6 triumph at Penn State ... Weber State routed Western State, 44-13, in its opener ... the Rockets got great production from QB Tavares Bolden (18-of-28, 140 yards, one TD), TB Chester Taylor (29 att., 141 yards, two TDs) and TB Antwon McCray (16, 74) ... defensively, DeJuan Goulde was credited with two sacks for 14 yards ... this game marked the first victory ever for a MAC team against Penn State and was the first non-conference home loss for Penn State since Boston College in 1992 ... Toledo outgained PSU, 385-166, held a 25-9 advantage in first downs and held the ball for 40:19 ... the Rockets had no turnovers and just one penalty ... Mel Long caught a pass for the 36th consecutive game, tied for the longest streak in the country ... dating back to last year, UT has won its last two home games by an 89-35 scoring margin ... Weber State most recently played a I-A opponent last year, losing at Wyoming 41-16.
Buffalo Bulls (0-1) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-0), 6:00
Rutgers Stadium (41,500/natural grass) Piscataway, N.J.
The Coaches: Buffalo-Craig Cirbus (Buffalo 1980) 17-39/sixth year; Terry Shea (Oregon 1968) 9-36/fifth year at Rutgers.
Series: first meeting.
The Bulls fell in their season opener at Syracuse, 63-7, while the Scarlet Knights opened play against Villanova with a 34-21 win ... UB's touchdown versus the Orangemen came on a 34-yard pass from Joe Freedy to Dahnel Singfield, which was also Singfield's first career touchdown ... Singfield established career highs with six receptions for 121 yards ... UB spread the ball around with Freedy hooking up with eight different receivers on his 16 completions on 36 attempts ... Bam McDonald gained 76 yards on eight carries, an average of 9.5 yards per rush ... safety Troy Smith had a career-best 10 tackles and will be tested this week by Rutgers QB Mike McMahon, who tossed five TD passes last week versus Villanova ... Rutgers is 2-1-1 all-time versus MAC teams ... the Bulls have a record of 14-8-1 versus current Big East schools.
BIG MAC CHANGES: The 2000 Mid-American Conference football schedule reflects an emphasis on divisional competition while also sustaining league rivalries. Per NCAA regulations, MAC institutions will play a full divisional schedule in 2000, with divisional champions qualifying for the fourth conference championship game. The MAC is one of only three conferences in Division I-A to stage a football championship game (SEC, Big 12). Last year's MAC championship game saw then #11 Marshall defeat Western Michigan 34-30 in the second most-watched college football game in ESPN2 history.
Due to the unbalanced divisional configuration, two schools in the West (Central Michigan and Western Michigan) will play eight conference games, while the remaining four will play seven MAC games and have one additional non-conference game. All seven East Division schools will play a full divisional schedule and two crossover games. Divisional champions will be based on each schools' divisional record only. Head-to-head competition will be used as the initial tiebreaker in determining divisional standings. Overall conference record by percentage will also be factored into the tiebreaker formula.
Crossover games will allow traditional rivalries such as Bowling Green-Toledo and Ball State-Miami to continue. Other interdivisional highlights include a re-match of last year's MAC championship game between Marshall and Western Michigan and a trip by the Thundering Herd to Toledo for the first time since Marshall rejoined the MAC in 1997.
MAC vs. Big Ten: Since the 1991 season, seven times a MAC team has claimed a victory against an opponent from the Big Ten. Toledo's win over Penn State on Sept. 2 was the Nittany Lions first loss ever to a MAC team. The complete list follows:
Year Score MAC Head Coach
1991 Central Michigan 20, at Michigan State 3 Herb Deromedi
1992 Central Michigan 24, at Michigan State 20 Herb Deromedi
1992 Toledo 33, at Purdue 29 Gary Pinkel
1995 Miami 30, at Northwestern 28 (Ranked No. 25) Randy Walker
1997 at Toledo 36, Purdue 22 Gary Pinkel
1999 Miami 28, at Northwestern 3 Terry Hoeppner
2000 Toledo 24, at Penn State 6 Gary Pinkel
In addition, Miami holds wins over five ranked teams - 1962 (#9 Purdue, 10-7), 1986 (#8 LSU, 21-12), 1995 (#25 Northwestern, 30-28), 1997 (#12 Virginia Tech, 24-17) and 1998 (#12 North Carolina, 13-10).
Eye On the Recordbook: Last year it was a record breaking year for MAC quarterbacks (Chad Pennington and Tim Lester) and running back (Travis Prentice), this year it is the receiving records that may fall. Western Michigan's Steve Neal begins 2000 with 168 career receptions, which is 51 behind MAC record holder Eugene Baker's (Kent State 1995-98) 229. Neal's 2,751 receiving yards is just 762 shy of Baker's all-time MAC standard of 3,513
Coaches Moving Up: Two MAC coaches are set to move up on the list of victories on the league's all-time wins list. Toledo's Gary Pinkel began 2000 with 63 career triumphs, which ranked sixth, and Bowling Green's Gary Blackney has 58 wins to rank tied for 10th place. Pinkel needs just three wins to become the league's fourth winningest coach all-time and Blackney could join the MAC's top five with an eight-win campaign.
110 Herb Deromedi/Central Michigan/1978-93
108 Bill Hess/Ohio /1958-77
77 Doyt Perry/Bowling Green/1955-64
66 Trevor Rees/Kent State University/1951-63
64 Gary Pinkel/Toledo/1991-99
64 Bill Mallory/Miami/1969-73/NIU/1980-83
62 Al Molde/Western Michigan/1987-96
60 Paul Schudel/Ball State/1985-94
59 Randy Walker/Miami/1990-98
58 Gary Blackney/Bowling Green/1991-99
58 Bill Doolittle/Western Michigan/1964-74
MAC Players Gain National Attention: Seventeen times the name of a MAC player pops up on the preseason "Watch Lists" for the national awards. Twice in the last three years, a MAC team has sent a player to the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York City - Chad Pennington in 1999 and Randy Moss in 1997, both from Marshall University.
Butkus Award (presented by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando of nation's top linebacker) Kenny Philpott (Eastern Michigan), Kevin Rollins (Toledo), Cameron Saulsby (Northern Illinois) and Max Yates (Marshall).
Jim Thorpe Award (given to nation's best defensive back) Daninelle Derricott (Marshall), Jermaine Hampton (Northern Illinois) and Dwight Smith (Akron).
Doak Walker Award (awarded to the nation's top running back) Brandon Payne (Akron), Robert Sanford (Western Michigan) and Chester Taylor (Toledo).
Bronko Nagurski Award (best defensive player) Daninelle Derricott (Marshall), DeJuan Goulde, Toledo.
Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (top senior quarterback) Walter Church (Eastern Michigan).
Ray Guy Award (nation's top punter) Curtis Head (Marshall), Matt Steffen (Western Michigan), Dave Zastudil (Ohio).