Prime Time - The first national telecast of a regular season MAC game since 1987 takes place Thursday night as the Toledo at Marshall contest will be beamed across America. The matchup features the only two teams to win MAC Division titles and meet in the MAC championship game since the introduction of divisional play in 1997. Marshall is ranked #16 in both the USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches poll and the Associated Press poll. The Thundering Herd is 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the league while Toledo is 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the MAC. The ESPN team of Mike Tirico, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Dr. Jerry Punch will provide the talent. Corso is a former head coach at MAC member Northern Illinois, having coached the Huskies to a 4-6-1 overall record and a 3-5-1 MAC record in 1984. Game time is set for 8:00 pm. from Marshall Stadium.
MAC ON THE FOX - The first of four MAC games to be televised on FOX Sports Net Regional will be this Saturday with the Bowling Green at Akron game taking center stage. Dave Weekley, Charles Arbuckle and Jeff Piecoro will handle the announcing duties. Akron is 3-1 in MAC games and is challenging Marshall and Miami for the top spot in the East Division. Bowling Green is 1-3 in league play but has the talent to play the spoiler role, as evidenced by being the only team in the last 18 games to hand Marshall a loss. Game time is a noon from the Rubber Bowl.
In the Polls - Marshall University continued to climb in the Top 25 national rankings. In this week's USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches' Poll, the Thundering Herd is listed #16 and in the Associated Press poll is also slotted at #16, down from last week's 15 ranking in both polls. The highest finish ever by a MAC team was the #10 ranking in the final UPI and AP polls attained by the 1974 Miami team that produced an 10-0-1 record.
NCAA Record Watch - Miami's Travis Prentice became the all-time NCAA leader in multiple-touchdown games as his four TDs against Eastern Michigan on Sept. 18 gave him 22 such performances, bettering the old mark of 21 set by Ricky Williams of Texas. Prentice also has 66 career rushing touchdowns, which is second best all-time to the mark of 72, also held by Williams. Prentice's 426 career points is second all-time and he is 26 points shy of reaching the NCAA record also held by Williams.
MAC Record Setter - Miami's Travis Prentice also became the league's career leader in rushing yards with his 116 against Eastern Michigan on Sept. 18, increasing his career numbers to 4,369. Since then, Prentice has upped that total to 4,758, which ranks 13th all-time on the NCAA rushing list. Prentice has five regular-season games remaining and a possible MAC championship game to add to his total.
Pennington Sets Record- With four TD passes in Marshall's 63-3 victory over Liberty on Sept. 11, Chad Pennington increased his MAC career total to 67 scoring passes, breaking the tie he held at 63 with BG's Brian McClure. Pennington has since upped that total to 77. Western Michigan's Tim Lester is now second with 73 career TD strikes.
Setting Another Record- Marshall University has another record to add to its collection. The Thundering Herd program has won 106 games in the 1990s - more than any other football program has ever won in a decade. The Herd's mark of 106-25 is better than Alabama's 103-16-1 record in the 1970s. Marshall is 27-4 at the I-A level (1997-99) and 79-21 at the I-AA level (1990-96) during its run.
Heisman Watch -1998 MAC MVP running back Travis Prentice of Miami and two-time first team All-MAC quarterback Chad Pennington of Marshall are being touted as Heisman candidates, complete with impressive numbers and web sites. Prentice, a senior from Louisville, Ky., leads the MAC and ranks fifth in the nation in rushing with 141 yards per game. Prentice is also scoring a MAC best 14.0 points per game and can be checked out at www.tdtravis.com. Pennington, a senior from Knoxville, Tenn., ranks second nationally in passing efficiency at 157.6 (111-of-177 for 1,569 yards, 14 TDs, 5 int.) and has a web site at www.HerdQB.com. Prentice is also a candidate for the Doak Walker Award and Pennington for the Davey O'Brien Award.
Getting Noticed - Miami tailback Travis Prentice and linebacker Dustin Cohen have both been selected for the East-West Shrine Classic slated for Jan. 15, 2000 in Palo Alto, Calif.
This Week's Matchups
Toledo Rockets (3-2, 2-1 MAC) at
Marshall Thundering Herd (5-0, 2-0)
Date/Time: Oct. 14/8:00
Site: Marshall Stadium (30,000/Artificial Turf) Huntington, W.Va.
Television: ESPN Thursday Night Game of the Week
Series: Toledo leads 19-15-1
Last Meeting: Marshall 23, Toledo 17, 1998
Coaches: Toledo-Gary Pinkel (Kent 1975) 60-33/9th year; Marshall-Bob Pruett (Marshall 1965) 42-4/4th year at MU.
Game Notes: After meeting for the 1997 and 1998 MAC championship playoff games, This will be the first regular season encounter since 1980. Marshall has won the last four games in the series. The Thundering Herd has won 27 consecutive home games, the longest current streak in the nation, and nine consecutive games, also the nation's longest in I-A. Marshall's last home loss was to Montana in the 1995 I-AA national championship game. Marshall ranks among the national leaders in scoring defense (1st, 8.6), total defense (6th, 258.8), total offense (7th, 475.4), passing offense (6th, 325.8), passing efficiency defense (8th, 86.5), scoring offense (17th, 35.4), and rushing defense (10th, 79.6). Herd QB Chad Pennington ranks second nationally in passing efficiency (157.6) and fifth in total offense (315.6). Toledo is coming off a 47-7 victory against Kent, the Rockets' biggest margin of victory since 41-0 whitewash of Eastern Michigan on Nov. 14, 1992. The UT defense is led by All-MAC linebacker Jason Lamar, who ranks fifth in the league with 11.6 tackles per game. UT ranks second in the league and 22nd nationally in scoring defense (17.8) and second in the MAC in total defense (313.2). The Rockets' Chester Taylor ranks third in the MAC with 103.8 yards per game and had 209 yards two weeks ago versus Bowling Green. Toledo QB Tavares Bolden completed 14-of-20 passes for 164 yards and two TDs versus Kent, while teammate and fellow-QB Dan Cole was 5-of-6 for 95 yards and two scores. Marshall's James Williams is second nationally in kickoff returns (39.3) and the Herd's Danny Derricott paces the MAC in interceptions with three.
Bowling Green Falcons (2-4, 1-3) at
Akron Zips (4-2, 3-1)
Date/Time: Oct. 16/Noon
Site: Rubber Bowl (35,202/Artificial Turf) Akron, Ohio
Series: BG leads 7-3
Last Meeting: BG 58, Akron 21, 1998
Television: FOX Sports Net Regional
Coaches: BGSU-Gary Blackney (Connecticut 1967) 60-33-3/9th year; UA-Lee Owens (Bluffton 1977) 16-34/5th year.
Game Notes: The surprising Zips are 3-1 in MAC play and could put pressure on Marshall and Miami with another win. UA recovered five fumbles a blocked a punt that set up a touchdown in the 41-28 win against Ohio last week. Freshman tailback Brandon Payne rushed for three touchdowns as the Zips gained a 28-0 halftime advantage. BG has won the last two meetings versus the Zips, but the Falcons are coming off a 45-31 loss to Miami, a game during which BG allowed the most points ever by an opposing team at Doyt Perry Stadium (165 games since 1965). In addition, the Falcons are 3-14 in their last 17 MAC road contests. Robert Redd became the first player in BG history to compile 100 or more receiving yards in three straight games with 115 yards on six receptions versus the RedHawks. Since assuming the staring quarterback role two games ago, Falcon freshman Andy Sahm has completed 38-of-67 passes (.567 pct.) for 544 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. BG has allowed 200 yards performances by individual backs the last two games (209 to both Toledo's Chester Taylor and Miami's Travis Prentice), and Akron ranks third in the MAC in rushing offense (192.2). In charting the UA recordbook, Butchie Washington, whose 57.1 completion pct. is third in the MAC behind Marshall's Chad Pennington (62.7) and Western Michigan's Tim Lester (57.7), is third all-time in passing yards with 3,338.
Buffalo Bulls (0-5, 0-4) at
Western Michigan Broncos (4-2, 3-0)
Date/Time: Oct. 16/6:00
Site: Waldo Stadium (30,200/AstroTurf) Kalamazoo, Mich.
Series: first meeting
Coaches: UB-Craig Cirbus (Buffalo 1980) 17-32/4th year; WMU-Gary Darnell (Oklahoma State 1970) 19-9/3rd year at WMU; 22-13/4th year overall.
Game Notes: The Bulls seek their first MAC win while the Broncos are focused on keeping their grip on first place in the MAC West. UB, coming off a 38-19 loss to Central Michigan, will need to rely on the pass catching ability of Drew Haddad, who leads the MAC in receptions (37) and receiving yards per game (101.4). Haddad's 102 receiving yards versus the Chippewas was his 14th such game in his career. The Bulls also received a boost last week with the return of tailback Derrick Gordon. Gordon returned from a broken left foot suffered last October, preseason kidney stones and a high ankle sprain following that, before coming back and rushing for 124 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries in his first starting assignment. of 1999. WMU's high octane offense is averaging nearly 35 points a game behind the passing of Tim Lester (127-of-220, 1,746 yards, 20 TDs). The Broncos are also averaging a MAC best 35,988 fans per home game, which is 19 percent above the capacity of Waldo Stadium. In winning its second ever overtime game, 40-37, at Eastern Michigan on Saturday, WMU's Steve Neal became the school's all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 22 by nabbing three scores versus the Eagles. The Broncos won the game in OT when Robert Sanford ran it in from 25-yards out on the Broncos' first play from scrimmage. Sanford's 134 rushing yards marked his 11th career game with 100 or more yards. Two outstanding linebackers will be patrolling the field - WMU linebacker Scott Niles is coming off a 15-tackle outing and UB's Chris Shelly nailed 13 ball carriers in his last game.
Northern Illinois Huskies (2-4, 2-1) at
Central Michigan Chippewas (2-4, 1-2)
Date/Time: Oct. 16/1:00
Site: Kelly/Shorts Stadium Stadium (30,199/AstroTurf) Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Series: CMU leads 21-12-1
Last Meeting: NIU 16, CMU 6, 1998
Coaches: NIU-Joe Novak (Miami University 1967) 5-34/4th year; CMU-Dick Flynn (Michigan State 1965) 28-33/6th year.
Game Notes: The Huskies have won two in a row, outscoring the opposition 82-39, and are coming off a 20-point win at Ball State (37-17). NIU is 2-1 in the MAC for the first time since 1985. NIU's defense, ranked third in the MAC, produced five turnovers and delivered two touchdowns versus the Cardinals. With 17 tackles at Ball State, free safety Donnavan Carter upped his career total to 301. Carter also returned a fumble for a touchdown and teammate, and MAC Defensive Player of the Week, Jermaine Hampton, ran back an interception for six points. CMU snapped a four-game losing streak behind MAC Offensive Player of the Week winner Eric Flowers 219 rushing yards and four touchdowns. The Chippewas also got 108 rushing yards from wide receiver turned running back Ira Gooch. CMU was so dominating at Buffalo that they did not have to punt. CMU will welcome its home field as they have been on the road four of the last five games. Part of CMU's Homecoming festivities will include a reunion for its 1974 NCAA Division II national championship team. NIU's 16-6 win last year snapped the Huskies then nation's longest 23-game losing streak.
Ohio Bobcats (2-4, 2-1) at
Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-4, 1-2)
Date/Time: Oct. 16/6:00
Site: Rynearson Stadium (30,200/AstroTurf) Ypsilanti, Mich.
Series: Ohio leads 12-10-1
Last Meeting: Ohio 49, EMU 21, 1998
Coaches: Ohio-Jim Grobe (Virginia 1975) 23-27-1/5th year; EMU-Rick Rasnick (San Jose State 1982) 17-32/5th year.
Game Notes: Both teams are coming off losses, the Bobcats 41-28 at Akron and the Eagles dropping a 40-37 overtime game at home to Western Michigan. Ohio had seven fumbles, losing five of them, and could not come back from a 28-0 halftime deficit. Wide receiver Raynald Ray accounted for 228 all-purpose yards (99 rec., 82 punt return, 47 rush) and one touchdown. Ohio had held its previous two opponents to just 9 points before surrendering a season-high 41 to the Zips. Ohio will be challenged by the Eagles passing tandem of Walt Church and Jermaine Sheffield. The duo hooked up nine times versus WMU for 114 yards and one touchdown. Senior defensive back Isaac Shipp blocked a Bronco punt and recovered it for a touchdown, giving EMU a 14-0 lead at the time. EMU's Donald McCall ranks among the league's top 10 in both tackles (5th with 11.8 per game) and interceptions (t-5th with 2).
Miami RedHawks (4-2, 3-1) at
Kent Golden Flashes (1-5, 1-2)
Date/Time: Oct. 16/2:00
Site: Dix Stadium (30,520/AstroTurf) Kent, Ohio
Series: Miami leads 37-9
Last Meeting: Miami 56, Kent 0, 1998
Coaches: Miami-Terry Hoeppner (Franklin (Ind.) College 1969) 4-2/1st year; Kent-Dean Pees (Bowling Green 1971) 1-16/2nd year.
Game Notes: Miami has won 10 straight in this series that dates back to 1942. The Golden Flashes will attempt to rebound from a 47-7 loss at Toledo against a Miami team that is contending for the MAC East title. Kent QB Jose Davis has thrown only two interceptions in 167 attempts this year and has completed 55.1 pct. of his passes (92-of-167) for 969 yards and seven TDs. Davis needs just 184 yards of total offense to become the school's all-time leader and break a 24-year old record. Davis has already thrown for a school-record 47 touchdown passes. Kent head coach Dean Pees was the defensive coordinator at Miami in 1986 when the RedHawks won their most recent MAC title and his linebacker coach that season was current Miami head coach Terry Hoeppner, who was in his first year on the Miami staff. Travis Prentice's streak of not losing a fumble ended at 862 with his 16th carry at Bowling Green when he lost the ball while diving for a first down. The streak ran from Nov. 2, 1996 to Oct. 9, 1999. Miami QB Mike Bath turned in his finest career performance at BG, completing 15-of-22 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Bath's 145.2 passing efficiency is third in the MAC. Senior wide receiver Trevor Gaylor also had a career day against the Falcons with six pass receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Three times this year the RedHawks have topped 500 yards in total offense, including 503 last week.