MAC Football Roundup

UCF Coach Mike Kruczek

IN THE CROWD: Two MAC teams set stadium records with season-opening crowds as Northern Illinois and Ball State sent the hometown fans home happy. Huskie Stadium was packed with 28,018 for the 20-13 win over Maryland and Ball State Stadium welcomed 23,594 for its 31-7 victory over Indiana State.

In addition, Akron's attendance of 26,814 for its game with rival Kent State attracted 26,814, the Rubber Bowls' largest crowd since 1993.

UPSET SPECIAL: Northern Illinois' 20-13 win over #15/#14 (AP/ESPN Coaches) Maryland was the sixth win by a MAC team over a top 25 foe since 1990. Central Michigan topped No. 18 Michigan State in 1991, 20-3. Miami has three such wins - 30-28 in 1995 over No. 25 Northwestern, 24-17 in 1997 over No. 12 Virginia Tech, and 13-10 over No. 12 North Carolina in 1998. Marshall topped No. 25 BYU 21-3 in the 1999 Motor City Bowl.

SPIDERMAN: Marshall WR Darius Watts, nicknamed Spiderman, grabbed seven passes for 122 yards and a touchdown Saturday vs. Hofstra to inch closer to two more MAC records. Watts has 205 receptions, fourth best in league history and 30 shy of the MAC record 235 by Western Michigan's Steve Neal (1997-00). Watts' 3,185 receiving yards is chasing the mark of 3,599 set by Neal. Watts extended his career TD reception mark to 37.

CHALLENGING THE BEST: MAC schools will take on five top ranked teams this weekend. Kent State is at #10/#12 Pittsburgh, Marshall at #12/#14 Tennessee, Bowling Green at #16/#20 Purdue, Akron at #17/#18 Wisconsin and Buffalo at nr/#23 Iowa. The above rankings reflect those of the Associated Press/ESPN-USA TODAY Coaches polls.

PRUETT AT 66: Marshall's Bob Pruett recorded his 66th win as a MAC head coach Saturday vs. Hofstra. The win ties Pruett with Trevor Reese of Kent State (1951-63) for fifth place all-time for wins as a MAC coach. Next on the list at No. 4 is Toledo's Gary Pinkel at 73 wins from 1991-00.

MAC West Division Quick Notes: Ball State's first-ever night game at home was a success with a record setting crowd (23,594). Saturday's home game with Missouri will mark the first time since 1985 the Cardinals have opened the season with consecutive home games. LB Lorenzo Scott will be starting his 33rd consecutive game ... Bowling Green, which set a MAC record with its 40.8 ppg last year, picked up where it left off by scoring 63 points vs. Eastern Kentucky. BG piled up 644 yards of total offense ... Central Michigan played before the biggest crowd ever to see a MAC game as 110,637 witnessed the CMU at Michigan game last week. SS James King had 19 tackles, an amazing 18 of those solo. Offensively, QB Jeff Perry's career debut resulted in 18-29 passing for 150 yards and Terrence Jackson rushed 21 times for 104 yards. CMU's lone TD came on a 27-yard run by Kenan Lawhorne ... Eastern Michigan QB Chinedu Okoro completed 10-17 passes for 180 yards and 2 TDs after coming in for an injured Jeff Crooks (season ending leg injury) in the Eagles' 28-21 win over ETSU. Okoro's 174.8 pass efficiency rating leads the MAC. The Eagles' LB trio of Kevin Harrison (17), David Lusky (15) and Keyvon Barbee (14) totaled 46 tackles as EMU's defense held its opponent to the lowest output (287 yards of totaloffense) in the last 20 games. Eagles' RB Anthony Sherrell rushed 23 times for 160 yards in his first start ... Northern Illinois swept the MAC Player of the Week honors with Offensive (P.J. Fleck, wr), Defensive (Vinson Reynolds, de) and Special Teams Player (Steve Azar, pk) of the Week awards. Huskie RB Michael Turner gained 90 yards to move into fourth place in school history with 3,383 yards ... Toledo broke in a new quarterback at UNLV with sophomore Bruce Gradowski (14-27, 124 yards, 2 TDs, no int.) getting the start. TE Andrew Clarke caught both scoring passes (12 and 6 yards). Rover Paul Dye returned a fumble 80 yards for a touchdown to give UT an 18-14 lead going into the fourth quarter in an eventual 28-18 loss at UNLV. Patrick Body had 10 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception ... Western Michigan had several personal career highs at Michigan State, including QB Chad Munson (30-50, 333 yards), WR Greg Jennings (11 rec., 107 yards, 2 TDs), WS Jason Feldpaush (13 tackles) and P Adam Anderson (11 punts, 42.4 ypk).

MAC East Division Quick Notes: AkronQB Charlie Frye set a school record with 407 passing yards and 36 completions, as well as 414 yards of total offense last week vs. Kent State. Frye's 36 completions tie for the sixth highest total in league history. Akron also had two 100-yard receivers for the fifth time in school history with Mike Cherry (150) and Miquel Irvin (101) ... Buffalo sophomore Dave Dawson rushed for 125 yards on 14 carries (8.9 ypc) and a school I-A record 76-yard touchdown at Rutgers. LB Lamar Wilcher recorded a career-high 16 tackles ... Kent State had its first MAC-opening win since 1999 with a 41-38 win at Akron. Golden Flashes Josh Cribbs (offense) and Travis Mayle (special teams) were honored as MAC East Division Players of the Week. The game-winning field goal by Mayle was set up by a 34 yard punt return by true freshman Jon Drager to the Akron 25 with 36 seconds left ... Marshall plays its fourth game against an SEC foe under Bob Pruett (Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida). OL Nat McPeek has made 40 consecutive starts, the longest current streak in the nation by an offensive lineman. The crowd Saturday at Neyland Stadium will be the largest ever to watch a Marshall game, surpassing the 85,445 in 2001 at Florida ... Miami is idle following a 21-3 loss at Iowa. RedHawk QB Ben Roethlisberger suffered four interceptions but looks to get back on track Sept. 13 at Northwestern. Roethlisberger still completed 64.3% (27-42) of his passes for 250 yards and had one sure TD pass dropped in the end zone ... Ohio had eight different players carry the ball as the Bobcats' piled up 227 rushing yards last week. The Bobcats have led the MAC in rushing the last seven seasons ... UCF is idle before playing its home opener Sept. 13 against Florida Atlantic. FAU is coached by Howard Shellenberger. The Golden Knights fought back from a 28-0 deficit to close to within 28-21 at Virginia Tech last week before falling 49-28. QB Ryan Schneider completed 23-35 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns. Schneider has thrown a TD pass in 22 straight games, tying Daunte Culpepper's school record. P Matt Prater set a school record with his 55.7 ypk, also fourth best in MAC history. His longest punt travelled 71 yards.

MAC at 57: The Mid-American Conference is in its 57th season of football and seventh season with divisional play. The West Division champion will host the East Division champion on December 4 at 7:00 (ET) in the seventh MAC Championship game. Marshall is the defending league title holder while Toledo will fend off challengers to its West Division title. The MAC Champion is guaranteed a spot in one of two MAC bowl berths - the GMAC Bowl on Dec. 18 in Mobile, Ala., or the Motor City Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., on Dec. 26.

ESPN and the MAC: Mid-American Conference Commissioner Rick Chryst and MAC Council of Presidents Chairman Dr. John Peters (Northern Illinois University) announced a comprehensive five-year programming and production agreement with ESPN, Inc., on Aug. 25 from the league office in Cleveland. The new agreement, effective with the upcoming 2003 college football season, guarantees the MAC a minimum of 100 nationally-televised regular and post-season appearances in football and men's basketball over the term of the agreement (2003-04 thru 2007-08). On average, between 12-15 MAC football and men's basketball contests will be televised in each of the five years of the agreement.

HEISMAN WATCH: Two MAC schools have web sites dedicated to promoting and publicizing their players for the Heisman Award. Northern Illinois senior running back Michael "The Burner" Turner can be followed via while Miami junior quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can be watched at

WATCHING THE MAC: A number of Mid-American Conference players have been recognized by being named to preseason watch lists for several national awards.

Butkus Award - Top Linebacker
Dennis Chukwuemeka, Ohio
Nick Duffy, Northern Illinois
Anthony Henriquez, Kent State
Keon Jackson, Toledo
Terrell Jones, Miami
JT Rembert, Marshall
Stanford Rhule, UCF
Lorenzo Scott, Ball State

Davey O'Brien - Top Quarterback
Josh Harris, Bowling Green

Ben Roethlisberger, Miami
Ryan Schneider, UCF

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award - Best Senior Quarterback
Josh Harris, Bowling Green
Ryan Schneider, UCF

Dave Rimington - Top Center
Todd Ghilani, Northern Illinois

Bronko Nagurski - Top Defensive Player
Jason Babin, DL, Western Michigan
Atari Bigby, DB, UCF

Outland Trophy - Top Interior Lineman
Jason Babin, DL, Western Michigan
Todd Ghilani, C, Northern Illinois
Nate McPeek, OL, Marshall

Lou Groza Award - Top Placekicker
Steve Azar, Northern Illinois
Mike Gruzwalski, Central Michigan
Jared Parseghian, Miami
Shaun Suisham, Bowling Green

Lombardi Award - Top Down Lineman
Jason Babin, DL, Western Michigan
Nick Kaczur, OL, Toledo
Travis Moore, DE, Northern Illinois

Doak Walker Award - Top Runningback
Alex Haynes, UCF
Bob Hendry, Akron
Terrence Jackson, Central Michigan
Phil Reed, Western Michigan
Michael Turner, Northern Illinois

Ray Guy Award - Top Punter
Mike Wafzig, Miami

DRAFT SUCCESS: The MAC had its highest NFL draft pick in league history last season when Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich was picked No. 7 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The MAC had nine players taken overall, the most in league history for a seven-round draft.

FROM 2002: The MAC returns four of the top 20 national leaders in passing efficiency last year in UCF's Ryan Schneider (No. 4 at 151.6), Miami's Ben Roethlisberger (No. 16 at 138.7) and Akron's Charlie Frye (No. 20 at 136.5) ... as well, Ball State's Andy Roesch ranked 35th (129.2) ... in addition, Northern Illinois' Michael Turner was second in the nation last year in rushing yards (159.6 ypg) and all-purpose yards (190.3 ypg) ... NIU's Dan Sheldon led the nation in punt returns with 22.7 yards per return.


Games for Thursday, September 4
Western Illinois (1-0) at Eastern Michigan (1-0), 7:00 (ET)
Site: Ypsilanti, Mich. - Rynearson Stadium (30,200/Astro Turf)
Series: WIU leads 10-5-1 ... this is the first meeting since 1993, a 16-14 Leatherneck victory. Coaches: EMU's Jeff Woodruff (Kent State 1979) is 9-26 in his fourth year as head coach ... WIU's Don Patterson (West Point 1973) is 33-14 in his fifth season.
Game Watch: The Eagles opened with a 28-21 victory over East Tennessee State ... WIU topped Wayne State (Neb.) 35-3 ... WIU beat MAC member Northern Illinois last season 29-26 ... the last time EMU won as many as its first two games of the season was in 1989 with successive triumphs over Kent State, Youngstown State and Ohio.

Games for Saturday, September 6
Buffalo (0-1) at nr/#23 Iowa (1-0), 11:00 a.m. (CT)
Site: Iowa City, Iowa - Kinnick Stadium (70,397/Grass)
Series: first meeting. Coaches: Coaches: UB's Jim Hofher ( Cornell 1979) is 4-20 in his third season ... Iowa's Kirk Ferentz (Connecticut 1978) is 23-26 in his fifth season at Iowa and 35-47 in his eighth season overall.
Game Watch: UB dropped its season opener at Rutgers 24-10 ... Iowa silenced MAC East Division preseason favorite Miami 21-3 ... Buffalo has lost 11 in a row since a 34-11 win over Rutgers on Sept. 7, 2002 ... Iowa's Nate Kaeding won last year's Lou Groza Award as the nations' best kicker ... the Bulls' next three games are at home ... the Hawkeyes are ranked No. 23 in the ESPN/USA TODAY Coaches poll.

Bowling Green (1-0) at #16/#20 Purdue (0-0), noon (CT)
Site: West Lafayette, Ind. - Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500/Prescription Athletic Turf)
Series: BG leads 1-0 ... the Falcons won 17-14 in 1972 as MAC Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen's Falcon squad upset the then No. 18 ranked Boilermaker team.
Coaches: Coaches: BGSU's Gregg Brandon (Northern Colorado 1978) is 1-0 in his first season ... Purdue's Joe Tiller (Montana State 1965) is 46-28 in six years with the Boilermakers and 85-58-1 in 12 seasons overall.
Game Watch: BG is 5-0 vs. BCS league teams the last two seasons (2001-02) when current head coach Gregg Brandon was offensive coordinator ... the Falcons have averaged 39 ppg in those five games ... the Falcons opened last week with a 63-13 win over Eastern Kentucky ... Purdue was 7-6 last year with a 34-24 Sun Bowl win versus Washington.

Tennessee Tech (0-1) at Northern Illinois (1-0), 12:05 (CT)
Site: DeKalb, Ill. - Huskie Stadium (30,067/Field Turf)
Series: first meeting.
Coaches: NIU's Joe Novak (Miami 1967) is 29-50 in his eighth season ... Mike Hennigan (Tennessee Tech 1973) is 40-37 in his eighth campaign.
Game Watch: NIU opened last week with a stunning 20-13 overtime triumph over #15/#14 Maryland ... the Golden Eagles dropped a 40-10 decision to Memphis ... the Huskies gained their second straight season-opening win over an ACC foe, having defeated Wake Forest last year, 42-41, in overtime ... NIU has never started 2-0 under Joe Novak, last winning its first two games of the season in 1988.

New Hampshire (1-0) at Central Michigan (0-1), 1:00 (ET)
Site: Mount Pleasant, Mich. - Kelly Shorts Stadium (30,199/artificial turf)
Series: first meeting.
Coaches: UNH's Sean McDowell (New Hampshire 1978) is 19-26 in his sixth season ... CMU's Mike DeBord (Manchester 1978) is 9-26 in his fourth year.
Game Watch: The Chippewas' dropped a 45-7 game last week at #4/#7 ranked Michigan ... the Wildcats drilled Central Connecticut 70-20 ... the Chippewas are 3-0 in home openers under Mike DeBord and have won six consecutive home openers ... CMU started 2002 with three consecutive wins but is 1-9 since then.


Ohio (1-0) at Iowa State (1-0), 2:00 (CT)
Site: Ames, Iowa - Jack Trice Stadium (45,814/grass)
Series: ISU leads 6-0 ... the most recent meeting was a Cyclones' 31-28 win in 2001 at Peden Stadium in Athens.
Coaches: Ohio's Brian Knorr (Air Force Academy 1986) is 6-18 in two seasons ... ISU's Dan McCarney (Iowa 1975) is 37-57 in his ninth season.
Game Watch: The Bobcats' 17-3 win last week vs. Southeast Missouri was the first season-opening win under Brian Knorr ... the Cyclones scored a 17-10 win over Northern Iowa ... not since 1997 have the Bobcats won their first two games of the season (Kent State and Maryland) ... Ohio's last non-conference road win was at Minnesota in 2000.

Akron (0-1, 0-1 MAC) at #18/#17 Wisconsin (1-0), 2:00 (CT)
Site: Madison, Wisc. - Camp Randall Stadium (76,634/Field Turf)
Series: first meeting. Coaches: Akron's Lee Owens (Bluffton College 1977) is 33-57 in his ninth season ... UW's Barry Alvarez (Nebraska 1969) is 93-61-4 in his 14th season.
Game Watch: The Zips gave up 41 points last week and last year allowed 42-plus points in five of the first six games ... the Badgers topped West Virginia last week 24-17 in Morgantown ... Zips' QB Charlie Frye attempted 46 passes with no interceptions last week and completed 78.3% (36-46) of his attempts ... UA's loss last week snapped a two-game winning streak dating back to last year ... UW won its third in a row dating back to last year, including an Alamo Bowl win over Colorado, 31-28, in overtime.

Missouri (1-0) at Ball State (1-0), 3:00 (CT)
Site: Muncie, Ind. - Ball State Stadium (21,518/Grass)
Series: UM leads 1-0 ... the Tigers won the only previous meeting, 41-6, in 2002.
Coaches: Ball State's Brady Hoke (Ball State 1982) is 1-0 in his first season ... UM's Gary Pinkel (Kent State 1975) is 10-14 in his third season with the Tigers and 83-51 in his 13th season overall ... Pinkel was 73-37-3 at Toledo from 1991-2000 and was 5-4-1 vs. Ball State during that time.
Game Watch: Ball State opened last week with the first home night game in school history with a 31-7 win over Indiana State ... the Cardinals last started a season 2-0 in 1995 (Miami and Western Illinois) ... the Tigers edged Illinois 22-15 in their season opener ... Cardinals' QB Andy Roesch is 4-0 at home as a starter ... last week's game was the first season opening game at home for BSU since 1988 (Toledo).

Marshall (1-0) at #12/#14 Tennessee (1-0), 4:00 (ET) - ESPN2
Site: Knoxville, Tenn. - Neyland Stadium (104,079/grass)
Series: first meeting
Coaches: Marshall's Bob Pruett (Marshall 1965) is 81-13 in his eighth season ... Phil Fulmer (Tennessee 1972) is 104-25 in his 12th season.
Game Watch: This matchup features the top two winning active coaches in I-A as Bob Pruett has a .862 winning percentage and Phil Fulmer is .806 ... Marshall is 1-11 all-time vs. SEC schools and 1-2 since rejoining I-A in 1997, beating South Carolina in 1998, 24-21 ... the Thundering Herd opened its season last week at home with a 45-21 win over Hofstra ... the Vols posted a 24-6 win against Fresno State.

Kent State (1-0, 1-0 MAC) at #10/#12 Pittsburgh (0-0), 7:00 (ET)
Site: Pittsburgh, Pa. - Heinz Field (65,000/grass)
Series: Pittsburgh leads 6-0 ... the Panthers won the most recent meeting, 30-7 in 2000.
Coaches: Kent State's Dean Pees (Bowling Green 1972) is 13-44 in his sixth season ... Pittsburgh's Walt Harris (Pacific 1968) is 36-35 in his seventh campaign with the Panthers and is 47-59 entering his 10th overall season.
Game Watch: Kent State opened the season with a 41-38 win last week at Akron after rallying from a 38-24 deficit in the final four minutes of the game ... Pittsburgh is coming off a 9-4 season that included a 38-13 win over Oregon in the Insight Bowl ... MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week Travis Mayle and Pittsburgh's David Abdul were both freshman All-America placekickers in 2002.

Liberty (0-1) at Toledo (0-1), 7:00 (ET)
Site: Toledo, Ohio - Glass Bowl (26,248/NeXturf)
Series: UT leads 1-0 ... the Rockets won the only previous meeting, 47-37, in 1994 at the Glass Bowl.
Coaches: LU's Ken Karcher (Tulane 1986) is 8-26 in his fourth season ... Toledo's Tom Amstutz (Toledo 1977) is 19-8 in his third season.
Game Watch: Both teams are coming off season opening losses - UT 28-18 at UNLV and Liberty 48-6 at James Madison ... next week the Flames are at MAC member Bowling Green ... the Flames were a 48-17 victim at UCF last year in what was the Golden Knights first win as a MAC member ... UT looks to avoid its first 0-2 start since 1988 (losses to Ball State, Western Michigan and McNeese State).

William and Mary (0-0) at Western Michigan (0-1), 7:00 (ET)
Site: Kalamazoo, Mich. -Waldo Stadium (30,200/NeXturf)
Series: first meeting.
Coaches: The Tribe's Jimmy Laycock (William and Mary 1970) is 154-102-2 in his 24th season ... WMU's Gary Darnell (Oklahoma State 1970) is 40-30 in his seventh season with the Broncos and 46-62 in his 11th year overall.
Game Watch: The Broncos are coming off a 26-21 loss at Michigan State ... the Broncos had 10 first-time starters vs. the Spartans (4 on offense, 6 on defense) ... William and Mary posted a 6-5 record last year ... WMU also hosts another Virginia school with the University of Virginia coming in for a Sept. 13 game ... WMU has won six straight home openers. quick links:

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