MAC Football Notes - Week 3

Updated 11/3/1997

MAC Openers:
The league's regular season conference schedule began last Saturday as Central Michigan defeated Akron 17-7, handing Chippewa's head coach Mike Debord his first win as a collegiate head coach. Miami beat Eastern Michigan 34-17 in the only other conference matchup.

Next MAC Games: The next round of conference games are slated for Sept. 23 with Akron at Ohio, Kent State at Miami, Toledo at Western Michigan and Bowling Green at Buffalo. All are games that will count in the MAC Divisional standings. The West Division encounter features defending divisional champion Western Michigan against the preseason favorite Toledo. The Rockets won last year's game 45-21.

MAC History: For the first time in league history, the MAC has won three games in a season against Big Ten opponents, including twice in one week. Western Michigan stopped Iowa 27-21 and Ohio surprised Minnesota 23-17 last Saturday. On Sept. 2, Toledo shocked Penn State 24-6. All three wins came on the road. The win by Ohio was its first over a Big Ten squad since a 1973, 14-12, triumph over Northwestern. WMU's victory was its first over a Big Ten opponent since a 1988, 24-14 conquest at Wisconsin.

Big Shots: Consider the following outstanding performances by MAC players this week that led their teams to wins:

Ohio's Chad Brinker, a tailback, scored on a run, a pass reception and threw a touchdown pass in the 23-17 win at Minnesota.

Northern Illinois' cornerback Demerist Whitfield intercepted three passes, blocked a punt, had four pass deflections, and caused one fumble in a 52-0 win over Illinois State.

Miami's punt return specialist Eddie Tillitz returned five punts for a MAC record 162 yards and touchdowns from 53 and 82 yards in a 34-17 win at Eastern Michigan.

Central Michigan runningback Robbie Mixon rushed for 164 yards on 42 carries and caught three passes for 101 yards, scoring a touchdown via the ground and air, in a 17-7 win over Akron.

Western Michigan wide receiver Steve Neal caught a game-high eight passes for 114 yards and a touchdown in a 27-21 win at Iowa.

Toledo Up In Rankings: The Toledo Rockets are creeping closer to reaching the top 25 rankings in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls. The AP poll has Toledo at No. 31 and the ESPN poll lists the Rockets at No. 29. The last time Toledo was ranked in either poll was on Nov. 3, 1997 when the Rockets were No. 18 in the AP poll and No. 20 in the ESPN poll. Their highest ranking ever is No. 12 in the final 1970 AP poll.

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 41 receptions and 605 yards shy of the MAC career standard of 229 receptions and 3,513 yards set by Kent State's Eugene Baker from 1995-98.

Home Openers: MAC teams playing their first game at home this week are Akron (Central Florida), Buffalo (Connecticut), Kent State (Youngstown State), Ohio (Tennessee Tech) and Western Michigan (Indiana State).

Streak Update: Marshall's loss at Michigan State snapped the nation's longest current winning streak at 18. Toledo, with five wins in a row, now has the longest current winning streak in the MAC.

Two Idle: Two MAC teams, Marshall and Northern Illinois, are idle this week. Both return to action Sept. 23 on the road, Marshall at North Carolina and NIU at Auburn.

This Week's Games

Miami RedHawks (2-0) at Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0), noon
Ohio Stadium (89,841/prescription athletic turf) Columbus, Ohio
The Coaches:
Miami-Terry Hoeppner (Franklin College 1969) 9-4/second year; OSU-John Cooper (Iowa State 1962) 105-39-4/13th year at OSU.
Series: OSU leads 2-0 Television: ESPN Regional

Miami, fresh off a 34-14 win at league for Eastern Michigan, has a chance to match its 3-0 start of 1998, a year it went 10-1 ... the #17/#15 ranked Buckeyes are 2-0 after a 27-17 triumph at Arizona ... this will be the RedHawks third consecutive road game, marking the first year since 1988 that has happened ... this meeting will be the first between the schools since 1911 ... Miami is 9-21-1 all-time versus Big Ten foes ... 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) ... in last week's win at Eastern Michigan, Miami's Eddie Tillitz returned five punts for a MAC record 162 yards and two touchdowns ... the RedHawks Sly Johnson leads all MAC receivers (105.0 ypg) and Mike Bath tops the league's leaders in total offense (303.0 ypg) and passing yards (295.0 ypg) ... the RedHawks are ranked 40th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.

Central Michigan Chippewas (1-1) at Wyoming Cowboys (0-2), 2:00 (MT)
War Memorial Stadium (33,500/grass) Laramie, Wyoming
The Coaches: CMU-Mike DeBord (Manchester 1978) 1-1/first year; Wyoming-Vic Koenning (Kansas State 1983) 0-2/first year.
Series: first meeting
The Chippewas are coming off their first win under new head coach Mike DeBord in a 17-7 conquest of MAC opponent Akron ... the Cowboys are looking for their initial win of 2000 after losses to Auburn and Texas A&M ... this will be Wyoming's home opener ... the Cowboys have not started a season 0-3 since 1975 ... CMU's Mixon accounted for 265 yards (164 rush, 101 receiving) in offense last week ... QB Pete Shepherd made his 24th straight start and moved into second place on the school's career charts for passing yards (5,103), attempts (769), completions (392) and total offense (5,165) ... the Chippewas completed the Akron game with no turnovers committed ... CMU's last road win against a non-conference opponent was a 42-21 win at Boise State in 1996.

Ball State Cardinals (0-2) at Kansas State Wildcats (2-0), 6:00 (CT)
KSU Stadium (50,000/astro turf) Manhattan, Kansas.
The Coaches: BSU-Bill Lynch (Butler 1977) 21-37/sixth year; KSU-Bill Snyder (William Jewell 1962) 90-40-1/12th year.
Series: first meeting.
The Cardinals take the nation's longest current losing streak at 19 games into the matchup with the #7 ranked Wildcats ... Ball State's last win was an 18-13 victory over Northern Illinois on Oct. 3, 1998 .... K-State has not lost a home game since 1996 (Nebraska) and has not lost a non-conference home tilt since a 28-16 setback to Utah State in 1992 ... BSU's Talmadge Hill, a redshirt freshman, did have two touchdown passes last week to give him three scoring passes on 23 attempts this season ... Hill comes from an athletic family as his father, Ike, played for the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears ... Hill was an all-state QB at River Forest HS in Oak Park, Ill. ... junior Anthony Jones led BSU with 60 rushing yards vs. WIU ... K-State joins Florida as top-ranked opponents on BSU's 2000 schedule.

Bowling Green Falcons (0-2) at Temple Owls (1-1), 6:00 p.m.
Veterans Stadium (66,592/artificial surface) Philadelphia, Pa.
The Coaches: BGSU-Gary Blackney (Connecticut 1967) 58-43-2/10th year; TU-Bobby Wallace (Mississippi State 1976) 5-19/third year at TU.
Series: BGSU leads 3-1 Television: ESPN Regional
The Falcons will play their second consecutive opponent from the state of Pennsylvania after suffering a 34-16 home loss to Pittsburgh last week ... this will also be the Falcons' final non-conference game of the year before beginning MAC play at Buffalo on Sept. 23 ... in the loss to the Panthers, QB Andy Sahm passed (19-38, 197 yards) for one touchdown and rushed for another ... BGSU is without injured receivers Kurt Gerling and Aaron Alexander ... the Falcons have won the last three meetings in the series ... the most recent encounter was at BGSU 20-16 triumph in 1996 ... this game marks TU's home opener ... the Owls are coming off a 17-10 loss at Maryland and are 0-2 under Wallace in home openers.

Youngstown State Penguins (2-0) at Kent State Golden Flashes (0-2), 6:00 p.m.
Dix Stadium (30,520/artificial turf) Kent, Ohio
The Coaches: YSU-Jim Tressel (Baldwin-Wallace 1975) 128-54-2/15th year; KSU-Dean Pees (Bowling Green 1971) 2-22/third year
Series: YSU leads 5-3.
The Golden Flashes open their home schedule after road losses at Pittsburgh and Purdue ... Dix Stadium was the site of both of KSU's wins last year (Bowling Green and Buffalo) ... the Flashes ground game against the Boilermakers was led by Chante Murphy's 101 yards on 20 carries, a 5.1 average, and Murphy added three receptions for 37 yards ... LB James Harrison had two fumble recoveries at Purdue ... the Penguins, national champion I-AA runner-up last year, have won the last two meetings in this series ... KSU is the only I-A team on YSU's schedule this season ... in two starts at QB, the Flashes' Zach Williams has completed 61.0% (36-59) of his passes.

Indiana State Sycamores (0-2) at Western Michigan Broncos (1-1), 6:00 p.m.
Waldo Stadium (30,200/prescription athletic turf) Kalamazoo, Mich.
The Coaches: ISU-Tim McGuire (Nebraska 1975) 8-16/third season; WMU-Gary Darnell (Oklahoma State 1970) 23-13/third year.
Series: first meeting
This will be the home opener for the Broncos and comes on the heels of their 27-21 win at Iowa, the first win since 1988 for WMU against a Big Ten team and only second in 22 tries ... last year WMU established a MAC record for single game attendance with a crowd of 35,874 in the season opener versus Youngstown State, then bettered that later in the year with 36,102 for a game against Central Michigan ... WMU bolted to a 24-6 lead at Iowa ... QB Jeff Welsh completed 20-30 attempts for 216 yards and one score while backup Ryan Harris hooked up with Corey Alston on a 78-yard TD strike ... WR Steve Neal added eight catches for 114 yards and one touchdown ... defensively, Jared Pike added two sacks in Iowa's last drive of the game ... WMU is 3-0 in non-conference home games under Darnell and has won seven of its last eight games at Waldo Stadium.

Central Florida Knights (1-1) at Akron Zips (0-2), 7:00 p.m.
Rubber Bowl (35,202/astroturf) Akron, Ohio
The Coaches: UCF-Mike Kruczek (Boston College 1976) 14-10/third season; Akron-Lee Owens (Bluffton College 1977) 19-38/sixth year.
Series: Akron leads 2-0
The Zips open the home portion of their 2000 schedule ... UCF was 1-1 against MAC teams last year, defeating Eastern Michigan 31-6 and losing to Bowling Green 33-30 in overtime ... Zip QB Butchie Washington will start his 30th consecutive game this week and needs 172 yards of total offense to reach 5,000 for his career ... RB Brandon Payne scored his 16th touchdown in his 13th collegiate game in the CMU contest ... WR Lavel Bailey caught career pass No. 100 and is 28 shy of breaking the UA mark of 127 set by Dan Ruff (1967-70) .... Zip TB Jimmie Gray is averaging 6.6 yards per carry with 166 yards on 25 carries ... earlier this year UCF took Georgia Tech to the wire, falling 21-17 when the Jackets scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes for the win.

Connecticut Huskies (1-1) at Buffalo Bulls (0-2), 7:00 p.m.
UB Stadium (31,000/grass) Buffalo, N.Y.
The Coaches: UConn-Randy Edsall (Syracuse 1980) 5-8/second year; UB-Craig Cirbus (Buffalo 1980) 17-40/sixth year.
Series: UConn leads 7-3.
Buffalo opens its home season against a newcomer to I-A, the UConn Huskies ... earlier this year the Huskies lost a 32-25 contest to MAC member Eastern Michigan ... in last year's home opener, the Bulls nearly knocked off Akron, losing 17-10 in the school's first ever MAC game ... in last week's loss at Rutgers, QB Joe Freedy established career highs for completions (24) and passing yards (223) ... Freedy's 195.5 passing yards per game is the fifth best in the MAC ... with the loss of Drew Haddad to graduation, UB's top receiver, Dahnel Singfield, ranks among the league leaders with his nine receptions for 153 yards.

Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-1) at South Carolina Gamecocks (2-0), 7:00 p.m.
Williams Brice Stadium (80,250/natural grass) Columbia, S.C.
The Coaches: EMU-Jeff Woodruff (Kent State 1979) 1-1/first season; South Carolina-Lou Holtz (Kent State 1959) 2-11/second year at SC.
Series: first meeting
This game matches teams both coached by Kent State graduates ... this will be EMU's first road game after two home contests and will be the Gamecocks' third straight home contest after wins against New Mexico State and Georgia ... true freshman Ashantti Watson has burst onto the MAC scene and leads the league in yards per rush with 8.9 (116 yards on 13 carries) and is tied for ninth in the league with 58 rushing yards per game ... against Miami, Watson rushed five times for 62 yards, returned three punts for 37 yards and two kickoffs for 30 yards ... his 117.5 all-purpose yards per game ranks eighth in the MAC ... Walt Church had 23 completions versus the RedHawks to boost his already held school record to 613, also fifth highest in MAC history.

Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (1-0) at Ohio Bobcats (1-1), 7:00
Peden Stadium (27,605/grass) Athens, Ohio
The Coaches: TT-Mike Hennigan (Tennessee Tech 1973) 21-23/fifth year; Ohio-Jim Grobe (Virginia 1975) 27-30-1/sixth year.
The Series: Ohio leads 2-0
The Bobcats open their home schedule and play three of the next four at home ... Ohio is coming off a 23-17 win at Minnesota, the Bobcats' first win over a Big Ten team since a 14-12 triumph over Northwestern in 1972 ... Chad Brinker was a triple threat, scoring touchdowns by running, passing and receiving ... Brinker also added 119 rushing yards on 24 carries ... Ohio's defense held the Gophers to just 87 yards of total offense in the first half ... Ohio's two wins over Tennessee Tech came in 1990 (42-3) and 1991 (35-14) ... the Bobcats have not won a home opener since 1997 (Kent State).

Eastern Illinois Panthers (2-0) at Toledo Rockets (2-0) 7:00 p.m.
Glass Bowl (63,669/artificial turf) Toledo, Ohio
The Coaches: EIU-Bob Spoo (Purdue 1960) 78-71-1/15th year; UT-Gary Pinkel (Kent State 1975) 65-36-3/10th year.
Series: UT leads 1-0.
The Rockets play their second straight home game and are coming off a 51-0 triumph over Weber State ... the Panthers are coming off a 72-0 win over Kentucky Wesleyan ... Gary Pinkel can win his 66th game as head coach at Toledo and tie Trevor Reese (Kent State 1951-63) for fourth place all-time in MAC history ... Toledo's Chester Taylor leads the league in rushing (116.5 yards per game) and scoring with 24 points in two games ... Rocket QB Tavares Bolden tops the MAC's passing efficiency charts with a 141.4 rating ... as a team, Toledo paces the league and ranks sixth nationally in total defense, allowing just 193 yards per game ... the Rockets are listed as the 29th best team in the nation in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and 31st in the Associated Press.