Eye On the MAC...
Toledo Gets the Nod: The Toledo Rockets 3-0 start was recognized by the national media this week. UT is ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll and No. 26 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches‚ poll. UT finished the 2000 regular season No. 25 in the AP poll. This week's poll marks the earliest in the season that Toledo has been ranked. The Rockets highest ranking ever is No. 12 in the final 1970 AP poll.
This week‚s slate of games has 12 MAC teams in action against each other as full conference play gets underway. Divisional crossover games have Miami at Ball State and Central Michigan at Buffalo. West Division games are Western Michigan at Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois at Toledo. East Division matchups have Bowling Green at Marshall and Kent State at Akron. Ohio is idle.
West Division Quick Look:
The Toledo Rockets have a chance to take a commanding lead in the West this week as they host Northern Illinois. UT defeated Central Michigan last week, 52-28, in the first MAC West contest of the 2001 season. The Huskies were picked to finish third in the MAC News Media Association preseason poll while the Rockets were tabbed to win the MAC Championship. Defending West Division champion Western Michigan opens its league campaign at Eastern Michigan.
East Division Quick Look:
They were 2-9 last year and picked to finish fifth in the preseason MAC poll, but Saturday night the Bowling Green Falcons will take a perfect 3-0 record into an East Division showdown with four-time defending MAC Champion Marshall. The Thundering Herd will have had a layoff of 21 days since its last game, Sept. 8 versus Massachusetts. Akron, current co-leader with BG at 1-0, hosts Kent State.
BG Surpasses 2000 Wins:
Bowling Green's 42-23 triumph at home over Temple gave the Falcons a 3-0 mark, bypassing their 2000 win total when they went 2-9. BG began the year with a 20-13 win on the road at Big 12 member Missouri and then followed with its first shutout in seven years with a 35-0 triumph against Buffalo. The shutout was the first by a Falcon squad since posting back-to-back shutouts against Cincinnati (38-0, Oct. 1, 1994) and Ohio (32-0, Oct. 8, 1994).
Toledo Continues Streak:
The Rockets‚ 52-28 win at Central Michigan was the 10th in a row for the team and their 16th win in its last 17 games. UT, the preseason favorite to win the league, hosts Northern Illinois this week in the Rockets first home conference game of 2001.
King of the MAC:
Central Michigan redshirt freshman James King had an unbelievable afternoon Sept. 8 in the Chippewas' 35-21 loss at Michigan State. As a special teams member, King tied an NCAA record by blocking four Spartan punts with two of them returned for touchdowns. He equalled the standard set in 1992 by Ken Irvin of Memphis. King also was credited with seven tackles and four pass break ups from his defensive back position. King was honored as the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week by a FWAA panel of voters. King also has blocked punts this year versus Eastern Michigan and Toledo, giving him six. The NCAA single season record is eight.
The Freshman Factor:
Three of the top 10 rated passers in the MAC are freshmen. Miami's Ben Roethlisberger, Akron's Charlie Frye and Kent State's Joshua Cribbs rank, respectively, third, sixth and 10th three weeks into the season. Roethlisberger has posted an efficiency rating of 140.7 (47-of-78, 630 yds., 6 td, 5 int.), Frye 119.3 (42-of-68, 411 yds., 2 td, 1 int.) and Cribbs 94.0 (28-of-62, 290 yds., 3 tds, 2 int.). Frye and Cribbs face each other in Saturday's Kent State at Akron contest.
Marshall's Byron Leftwich became the second MAC QB to throw for five TDs in a game this season in the Thundering Herd‚s 49-20 victory over Massachusetts on Sept. 8. Western Michigan's Jeff Welsh opened the season Aug. 30 with five TD strikes in a 48-7 win over Illinois State.
Ten times in MAC history a player has scored five touchdowns in a game. This week's Northern Illinois at Toledo matchup features two of those players. NIU's Thomas Hammock crossed the goal line five times last year in a 52-35 win at Akron. UT's Chester Taylor scored five TDs in last week's 52-28 triumph at Central Michigan.
Ohio's first game at expanded Peden Stadium (Sept. 22 versus Iowa State) resulted in a record crowd of 24,000 for the Bobcat's 2001 home opener. Several other MAC teams have established attendance records this year for their current stadium. Record crowds at UB Stadium and the Glass Bowl in Toledo highlighted the first weekend of MAC football. The Bulls‚ 22,658 for the Rutgers contest bettered the old mark of 20,835 set in 1999 versus Akron. The Rockets‚ draw of 34,950 for the Minnesota game bypassed last year's 34,900 for the Marshall tilt. Western Michigan, which holds the MAC standard of 36,361 set last year, attracted 33,976 for its home opener against Illinois State.
Parseghian Returns to Miami:
Ara Parseghian coached at Miami University from 1951-55 before leaving to go to Northwestern (1956-63) and the Notre Dame (1964-74). On Sept. 8, Jared Parseghian, the grand nephew of Ara, and a walk-on placekicker for the RedHawks, kicked his first career extra point in a 31-13 loss at Michigan. He followed up with a PAT at Iowa. The younger Parseghian is a redshirt freshman from Sylvania, Ohio (St. John's HS).
Making MAC History:
Toledo's Tom Amstutz joined Miami's Terry Hoeppner (28-3 at Northwestern in 1999) as the only MAC head coaches in league history to make their debut versus a Big Ten opponent and win. Amstutz's win, 38-7 over Minnesota on Aug. 30, also came on his 46th birthday.
This Week's Matchups - Saturday, September 29, 2001
Miami RedHawks (1-2, 0-0 MAC, 0-0 MAC East) at Ball State Cardinals (0-3, 0-0 MAC, 0-0 MAC West) - 1:00 Ball State Stadium (21,581/natural grass) Muncie, Ind. The head coaches: MU - Terry Hoeppner (Franklin College 1969) 14-11/third season; BSU - Bill Lynch (Butler 1977) 26-44/seventh season at BSU, 62-56-3/12th season overall. The series: Miami leads 13-8-1 ... last year's 15-10 win by BSU snapped its 21-game losing streak overall and three-game losing streak to the RedHawks ... the series began in 1931 with a 47-6 Miami win. Quick Notes: Miami is coming off its first win of the year, a 21-14 victory over rival Cincinnati ... Ball State dropped its third straight game, a 42-39 loss to Northern Iowa ... the RedHawks held UC to just seven first-half points after being outscored 41-6 in their first two games ... the Miami offense chipped in with its best effort to date with season highs in rushing yards (199) and passing yards (264) ... freshman QB Ben Roethlisberger completed 80% (20-of-25) of his passes and ranks third in the MAC in passing efficiency (140.7) ... Roethlisberger was named the East Division Offensive Player of the Week ... Miami's offense is third in the MAC, averaging 400.3 yards per game but a 13th ranking in turnover margin (-1.0 per game) has stymied the team's scoring (17.7 ppg, 10th in MAC) ... freshman WR Michael Larkin is averaging 32.6 ypc (6 rec., 196 yds., 2 TDs) ... sophomore Luke Clemens has come on strong and with 111 yards against UC and now ranks sixth in the MAC with 80.3 ypg ... Ball State's running game was slowed with the knee injury to Marcus Merriweather (1,004 yards in 2000), but redshirt freshman Scott Blair picked up the pace versus Northern Iowa and gained a career-high 107 yards on 22 carries ... Merriweather had rushed for 121 yards the previous week at Kentucky ... the Cardinals offense has gained 933 total yard the last two games (506 UNI, 427 UK) and nearly tied a school record with 34 first downs against the Panthers (35 in 1997 versus Appalachian State) ... MAC 2000 Freshman of the Year Talmadge Hill set a career-high with 257 passing yards last week ... in 82 attempts this year Hill has four touchdowns and just one interception ... Billy Lynch, the son of head coach Bill Lynch, grabbed eight passes for 110 yards and a TD last week and is sixth in the league in receptions per game (5.3) and eighth in yards per game (56.7).
Western Michigan Broncos (1-2, 0-0 MAC, 0-0 MAC West) at Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-2, 0-0 MAC, 0-0 MAC West) - 6:00 Rynearson Stadium (30,200/Astroturf) Ypsilanti, Mich. The head coaches: WMU - Gary Darnell (Oklahoma State 1970) 32-17/fifth season at WMU, 38-49/ninth season overall; EMU - Jeff Woodruff (Kent State 1979) 4-10/second season. The series: WMU leads 21-13-2 ... the Broncos have won the last four meetings and eight of the last nine ... since 1992, EMU's only win was a 19-12 decision in 1996 ... WMU‚s Gary Darnell is 4-0 versus EMU. Quick Notes: This marks the first conference game of 2001 for two-time defending West Division champion WMU ... the Broncos are coming off a 38-21 loss at Michigan while the Eagles dropped a 21-14 contest to Indiana State ... this will be EMU's third home game of its first four of the season but they will close out with four road games in November (NIU, CMU, Toledo, Akron) ... EMU junior WR Kevin Walter has stepped in at the top receiving spot with 18 catches for 232 yards, ranking third in the MAC ... last year Walter (55 rec., 721 yds.) teamed with Kenny Christian (78, 808) to form the league's top one-two receiving duo ... Walter had seven receptions for 123 yards last week, including a 65-yard scoring strike from Jeff Crooks ... with an injury to PK Toller Starnes, junior Ohio State transfer Eric Klaban stepped in and made his first five field goals before a miss last week (from 26 yards) ... two senior offensive linemen have started 25 games in a row for the Eagles - LT John Grabowski and Cory Annett (23 at C, 2 at G) ... LB Kenny Philpot has a MAC-leading seven tackles for a loss ... WMU will be playing its third consecutive road game (Virginia Tech and Michigan) but then plays two straight at home (Akron and Bowling Green) ... the Broncos also have a three-game road set on Oct. 20 (NIU), Oct. 27 (Miami) and Nov. 6 (Toledo) ... senior QB Jeff Welsh turned in a career day at UM with school records for completions (36) and attempts (58) while also throwing for a career-best 374 yards ... the Broncos threw for a school-record 462 yards in the season opener and lead the MAC with 322 passing yards per game ... senior WR Darnell Jennings came into 2001 with just 25 career receptions but has blossomed with a team-high 16 receptions for 172 yards to rank among the MAC top receivers ... Ron Rogers is the league's co-leader in kickoff returns with a 27.5 average (4 for 110) ... a win by WMU will give Gary Darnell his 26th career MAC win and tie him with John Pont (Miami 1956-62) for 17th all-time in league history ... freshman Nick Melcher blocked a punt at Michigan and was named West Division Special Teams Player of the Week.
Kent State Golden Flashes (1-2, 0-0 MAC, 0-0 MAC East) at Akron Zips (1-2, 1-0 MAC, 1-0 MAC East) - 6:00 Rubber Bowl (35,202/artificial) Akron, Ohio The head coaches: KSU - Dean Pees (Bowling Green 1971) 4-32/fourth season; UA - Lee Owens (Bluffton College 1977) 26-43/seventh season. The series: Akron leads 23-18-2 ... this game was originally scheduled for Nov. 17 but was moved so that the Akron at Buffalo game could be moved from Nov. 10 to the 17th in order to reschedule the Sept. 15 postponed Buffalo at Army game to Nov. 10 ... the Zips have won the last four in a row ... the series began in 1923 with a 32-0 Akron win ... the Zips were 11-0-1 after the first 12 meetings in this series before Kent State reeled off 10 wins in a row. Quick Notes: This game was originally scheduled for Nov. 17 as the season finale but was moved to accommodate the various schedule changes relating to the Sept. 15 postponements ... both teams lost games last week - Akron 33-14 at Purdue and Kent State 34-14 at West Virginia ... the Zips held a 7-0 lead against last year's Rose Bowl team and trailed just 10-7 at the half ... Brandon Payne, the MAC‚s fourth-leading rusher (93.0 ypg) gained 89 yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown ... Payne also reached 200 points for his career ... Akron had a true balanced attack with 133 rushing yards and 133 passing yards against a defense that returned 10 starters from its Big Ten championship team of last year ... freshman QB Charlie Frye upped his completion rate to 61.8% with a 14-for-21 effort ... free safeties John Fuller and Kris Williams picked up their first career interceptions at Purdue ... Zips' OT Konrad Dean is one of 21 players nationally on both the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Watch Lists ... KSU QB Joshua Cribbs set a Mountaineer Stadium record with his 84-yard TD run ... Cribbs rushed for 144 yards and added 117 passing and ranks fifth in the MAC in rushing (87.3 ypg) and 10th in passing efficiency (94.0) ... the Golden Flashes managed just 37 yards of total offense in the first half ... KSU last won its MAC opener in 199 with a 41-27 victory against Bowling Green.
Central Michigan Chippewas (1-2, 0-0 MAC, 0-0 MAC West) at Buffalo Bulls (1-2, 0-0 MAC, 0-0 MAC East) - 7:00 UB Stadium (31,000/Natural grass) Buffalo, N.Y. The head coaches: CMU - Mike DeBord (Manchester 1978) 3-11/second season. UB - Jim Hohfer (Cornell 1979) 1-2/first season at UB, 45-38/ninth season overall. The series: CMU leads 1-0 ... the Chippewas won the only previous meeting, 38-19 in 1999 played at UB Stadium ... CMU rolled up 394 rushing yards in that game. Quick Notes: CMU opened its MAC season last week with a 52-28 loss to Toledo ... UB snapped a four-game losing streak with a 37-20 triumph over Connecticut ... the Bulls trailed 13-3 at the half but got 128 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the second half from Marquis Dwarte ... Dwarte, who entered the game with just 43 yards, gained 150 for the contest while scoring on runs of 1, 8 and 23 yards ... Dwarte's second TD, with 12:50 left in the fourth quarter, gave the Bulls a 20-13 lead and came in the middle of a 34-0 scoring blitz by the Bulls ... the 37 points were the most by the Bulls since returning to I-A in 1999 ... UB PK Dallas Pelz was recognized as the East Division Special Teams Player of the week for his three field goals that were crucial to the Bulls' win over UConn ... CMU's James King, last week's national Player of the Week with four blocked punts, added another block versus Toledo to give him six for the season, the NCAA record is eight ... King's block set up a Derrick Vickers to Tory Humphrey 50-yard scoring pass ... Vickers passed for 220 yards and ranks sixth in the league with 179 passing yards per game ... junior Willie Hill caught scoring passes of 15 and 20 yards, the first TDs of his career ... the crowd of 27,413 was the second largest since the Kelly/Shorts Stadium expansion in 1998.
Northern Illinois Huskies (2-1, 0-0 MAC, 0-0 MAC West) at Toledo Rockets (3-0, 1-0 MAC, 1-0 MAC West) - 7:00
Glass Bowl (26,248/Astroturf) Toledo, Ohio.
The head coaches: NIU - Joe Novak (Miami 1967) 16-42/sixth season. UT-Tom Amstutz (Toledo 1977) 3-0/first season.
The series: Toledo leads 22-6 ... the series began in 1967 with a 35-0 Rocket win in Toledo ... UT won the first four games and nine of the first 10 ... the Rockets have won the last seven in a row ... NIU's last win came in 1989, 39-27 ... UT has won three in a row in DeKalb.
Quick Notes: UT handed Central Michigan 52-28 loss in both teams‚ conference openers last week while NIU routed Sam Houston State 41-16 after breaking from a 10-10 halftime tie ... Toledo continues to impress the pollsters and is ranked No. 25 in the latest Associated Press Poll and No. 26 in the ESPN Coaches Poll ... UT has won 10 games in a row and 16 of its last 17 ... Chester Taylor's 164 rushing yards at CMU gives him 20 career games over 100 yards ... Taylor's 11 TDs (including a MAC-tying record five at CMU) the first three games have him on pace to challenge the school record of 20 set in 1995 by Wasean Tait ... UT's 52 points is the most since a 52-3 win over Marshall in 1970 ... NIU QB Chris Finlen went over 5,000 career yards (5,097) with a 15-of-26 performance for 279 yards and three TDs last week ... Thomas Hammock added 152 yards rushing and is three yards shy of leading the MAC in rushing ... Hammock's 146.7 average trails Taylor's 149.7 ... both players have scored five touchdowns in their career as Hammock did it last year at Akron ... UT's Tavares Bolden is the league's second highest rated passer with a 143.0 efficiency rating ... Toledo leads the MAC in scoring (41.0 ppg) and total offense (461.3 ypg) ... NIU ranks third in scoring defense (16.7) and fourth in total defense (340.3) ... NIU DB Vince Thompson sparked last week's win with a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the Huskies a 20-10 lead ... Thompson was honored as West Division Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts while Taylor won the West Division Offensive Player of the Week award for the second time this year.
Bowling Green Falcons (3-0, 1-0 MAC, 1-0 MAC East) at Marshall Thundering Herd (1-1, 0-0 MAC, 0-0 MAC East) - 7:00 Marshall Stadium (40,000/artificial) Huntington, W.Va. The head coaches: BGSU - Urban Meyer (Cincinnati 1986) 3-0/first season; MU - Bob Pruett (Marshall 1965) 59-10/sixth season. The series: BGSU leads 19-6 ... since the Herd reentered the MAC in 1997, they have won three of the four meetings ... the teams met every year from 1954-1974, then not again until 1997 ... during the 1998-1999 seasons when Marshall went 25-1, its only loss was to Bowling Green (Oct. 31, 1998 at BG, 34-13). Quick Notes: With its 42-23 win over Temple last week, BGSU has won three games in a row, surpassing last year‚s win total (2-9) ... Sept. 8's 35-0 whitewashing of Buffalo was BG's first shutout since 1994 ... the last time BG began a season 4-0 was 1985 when they went 11-0 during the regular season before losing to Fresno State in the California Bowl ... Marshall has been idle since a Sept. 8, 49-20 win at home over Massachusetts ... the Thundering Herd features the league's top rated QB in Byron Leftwich (48-of-73, 605 yds., 6 TD, 1 int., 159.8 rating) ... WR Darius Watts leads the MAC in receptions and yards per game with 7.5 and 138.0 respectively ... the Herd's offense will face a Falcon squad that leads the MAC in total defense (265.0 ypg), pass defense efficiency (86.1) and scoring defense (12.0 ppg) ... BG takes care of the ball, leading the MAC with a +2.0 turnover margin ... the Falcons‚ Brandon Hicks garnered East Division Defensive Player of the Week honors for an interception return for a TD to give BG a 21-10 lead in the Temple win ... BG's offense is led by QB Andy Sahm, who is ranked fifth in the MAC in passing efficiency (138.3) with 35-of-52 completions for 354 yards, four TDs and three interceptions ... Sahm's top target is WR David Bautista (18 rec., 209 yds, 2 TDs ... Marshall's Trod Buggs has seen action at running back, linebacker and mostly special teams during his four-year career ... Sept. 8 when the call came for him to step into the Herd's No. 1 running back position due to injuries to Franklin Wallace and Chanston Rodgers, Buggs responded ... credited with 123 career tackles, Buggs dished out the hits this time, rushing for 128 yards on 10 carries versus Massachusetts ... Buggs had just nine career rushing attempts going into the game ... he added two receptions for 44 yards and a kickoff return for 17 yards.
Idle this week - Ohio Bobcats (0-3, 0-1 MAC, 0-1 MAC East) ... the Bobcats dropped a 31-28 contest to Iowa State and play next Oct. 6 in a home game against Toledo ... Ohio's Joe Mohler grabbed two fourth-quarter TD passes (31 and 53 yards) as the Bobcats rallied from a 31-14 deficit ... Kevin Carberry blocked a fourth-quarter FG attempt by the Cyclones to initiate Ohio's rally ... TB Chad Brinker rushed for 140 yards on just 11 carries, an average of 12.7 ypc ... Brinker's 106.7 ypg ranks third in the MAC.