MAC Preview Week 5

We are back this week with our weekly MAC football preview after a few technical difficulties last week. In Week 5 the MAC is highlighted by the marquee matchup in Kalamazoo, Michigan when the 5th ranked team in the country, the Virginia Tech Hokies, become the highest ranked team to play in a MAC Stadium.

The Hokies and the Western Michigan University Broncos will kickoff their contest at 12:00pm at Waldo Stadium. The game will be a part of the ESPN GamePlan, which will be seen nationally on a pay-per-view basis, and will be seen locally on WXMI Fox17 in Grand Rapids, WADL Channel 38 in Detroit, and WJPR Channel 21 in Roanoke Valley.

Other match-ups include Ball State taking on the UConn Huskies at Memorial Stadium, in Storrs, Connecticut. Central Michigan heads to Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. In one of this weekend's three Mid-American Conference matchups, the Kent State Falcons are on the road for the 2nd weekend in a row when they travel to DeKalb, Illinois to take on the Northern Illinois Huskies at Huskie Stadium. The Rockets of the University of Toledo travels to Pittsburgh to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers and Heinz Field. The Eastern Michigan Eagles open up the doors to Rynearson Stadium to welcome in the Southern Illinois Salukis (the Eagles second NCAA D-1AA opponent this season). The Miami RedHawks continue their quest for a Mid-American Conference East Division Championship when they travel to Akron to take on the Akron Zips in the Rubber Bowl. The University of Central Florida Knights find themselves hosting the Liberty Flames in Orlando at the Florida Citrus Bowl. And in the final game of the weekend, Buffalo travels to Athens, Ohio to take on the Ohio Bobcats at Peden Stadium in the first divisional conference matchup on the season for both teams.

#5 Virginia Tech (4-0) vs. Western Michigan (1-2) (12:00pm ET, ESPN GamePlan)

In the premier matchup this weekend, the Broncos host the Virginia Tech Hokies at Waldo Stadium in a game that has been promoted as Blackout Saturday. The Hokies are coming into Kalamazoo as the 5th ranked team in the country in both the AP Poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. They will become the highest ranked team to play at Waldo Stadium and in a MAC Stadium. The highest ranked team to lose to a MAC school was the 8th ranked LSU Tigers in 1986 when they lost to the then Miami Redskins (now RedHawks). The Hokies are coming off a 13-3 win over the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station, Texas. On offense the Hokies are led by the running back duo that have been dubbed "the Untouchables". Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones are two of the best running backs in the country and on the season they have combined for 702 yards rushing on 123 carries and 11 touchdowns. Suggs has rushed 66 times for 385 and 6 touchdowns; he is averaging 95.5 yards a game. Jones has rushed 57 times for 328 yards and 5 touchdowns; his average is 80 yards a game. Head Coach Frank Beamer leads the Hokies. Coach Beamer is in his 16th season with the Hokies and has amassed a 111-65-2 record. Overall Coach Beamer's record stands a 153-88-4 in 22 seasons.

The Western Michigan University Broncos are coming off a bye week after losing to the Purdue Boilermakers 24-28 in a game that many felt that the Broncos should have one. The game against the Hokies marks the 3rd straight game against a BCS conference opponent and the 2nd game of the season against a ranked opponent. The Broncos are led by the quarterback tandem of Chad Munson and Jon Drach. Chad is ranked among the nations best in pass efficiency rating while Jon has continually shown major progress despite suffering from a tender elbow early on. Combined they have throw 67 completions in 119 attempts for 874 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. Munson has completed 39 of 64 attempts for 509 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Drach has completed 28 of 55 attempts for 365 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Head Coach Gary Darnell is in his 6th season as the head coach for the Broncos and currently sports a 37-23 record at Western Michigan and a 40-27 overall record in 7 seasons. This marks only the 2nd time the Hokies and Broncos will play in football. The Hokies won the series opener last season 31-0 in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Ball State (1-2) vs. UConn (2-2) (12:00pm ET)

On Saturday, the UConn Huskies will be hosting the Ball State Cardinals at Memorial Stadium in Storrs, Connecticut. This game will mark the 3rd game in a row against a MAC team and the 2nd in a row at home against a MAC team for the Huskies. Ball State is coming off of a 7-30 loss to the Clemson Tigers. The Cardinals are led by defensively by Lorenzo Scott. In 3 games Scott has recorded 33 tackles, 4 for a loss of 5 yards, and a forced fumble. Head Coach Bill Lynch is in his 8th season as the Head Coach for the Cardinals and has a record of 32-49. Overall Coach Lynch has a 68-61-3 record in 13 seasons. The UConn Huskies are coming off of a convincing 37-19 win over the Ohio Bobcats. The Huskies have announced that the game has been sold out in the 16,200 seat Memorial Stadium. The Huskies are led offensively by quarterback Dan Orlovsky. Orlovsky has completed 70 of 121 passes for 814 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Orlovsky has also rushed the ball 22 times for –35 yards and 2 touchdowns. Head Coach Randy Edsall is in his 4th season as the head coach of the Huskies with an 11-26 record. This marks the third time these two schools have met on the football field, with Ball State owning a 2-0 advantage, including 10-5 win last season at UConn.

Central Michigan (3-1) vs. Boston College (2-1) (12:00pm ET)

Saturday afternoon the Central Michigan Chippewas will take on the Big East's Boston College at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The Chippewas are coming off of a heartbreaking 29-39 loss to the Indiana Hoosiers, in a game that the Chippewas had a 29-16 lead in the third quarter before fumbling the ball on the Hoosiers 9 yard line and allowing the Hoosiers to score 23 unanswered points. The Chippewas are led offensively by quarterback Derrick Vickers. So far this season Vickers has completed 84 of 136 pass for 994 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. He has also rushed the ball 22 times for 46 yards and 1 touchdown. Head Coach Mike DeBord is in his 3rd season as the head coach of the Chippewas and has a coaching record of 8-18. Boston College lost their first game of the season last week, falling to the Miami Hurricanes 6-38 at Miami. Quarterback Brian St. Pierre is the leader of the Boston College Eagles completing 55 of 93 passes for 637 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. Head Coach Tom O'Brien is in his sixth season as the head coach of the Eagles and has a 33-28 record. This marks the first game between the Chippewas and the Eagles.

Kent State (2-2) vs. Northern Illinois (1-3) (12:05pm ET)

The Kent State Golden Flashes are enjoying one of their best starts in a long time and will be looking to get back above the .500 mark when they travel to DeKalb, Illinois to take on the Northern Illinois Huskies at Huskies Stadium on Saturday. Last week the Golden Flashes fell to the Miami RedHawks 20-27. Quarterback Joshua Cribbs leads the Kent State offense in virtually every offensive category. Cribbs leads the nation in rushing with 67 carries for 618 yards and 6 touchdowns. Cribbs has also completed 49 of 96 passes for 606 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. Of the 1,741 total yards on offense for the Golden Flashes, Cribbs has accounted for 1,224 total yards. Head Coach Dan Pees is in his 5th season as Kent State's head coach and holds an 11-37 record, 7 of those wins have come within the last 10 games. The Huskies are back in action after a shocking 26-29 loss to the Western Illinois Leathernecks last weak. The Huskies are led defensively by Akil Grant. Grant has recorded 44 tackles, 2 tackles for a lost of 6 yards, and 1 interception. Head Coach Joe Novak is in his 7th season as the head coach for the Huskies and sports a 21-49 record. Northern Illinois holds the series advantage 11-7, but Kent State won the last meeting last season 44-37.

Toledo (3-1) vs. Pittsburgh (3-1) (1:30pm ET)

Saturday, the Toledo Rockets will help entertain the Pittsburgh Panthers faithful as they travel to Heinz Field to take on the Panthers. Last week the Rockets took care of the UNLV Rebels in surprising fashion winning 38-21 at the Glass Bowl. Quarterback Brian Jones has become the leader of this Rockets team. So far on the season Jones has completed 54 of 78 passes for 674 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Head Coach Tom Amstutz continues to enjoy the success of the Rockets. In just his second season as the Rockets head coach he owns a 13-3 record. The Panthers are coming of a 23-3 victory last week over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Quarterback Rod Rutherford leads the Panthers on the field. Rod has rushed 51 time for 51 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has also completed 54 of 104 passes for 756 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Head Coach Walt Harris coaches the Panthers. Coach Harris has had the reins to the Pittsburgh Panthers football program for his 6th season now and has coached the Panthers to a 30-32 record. This is the first meeting between the two schools.

Southern Illinois (2-2) vs. Eastern Michigan (1-3) (6:00pm ET)

The Eastern Michigan Eagles are looking to notch their second win of the season when they welcome the Southern Illinois Salukis at Rynearson Stadium, in Ypsilanti, Michigan on Saturday. The Salukis defeated West Virginia Tech in convincing fashion Last Week, by a score of 76-21. In their two victories, the Salukis have won by a combined score of 154-21. Running back Mo Abdulqaadir leads the Salukis offensively with 58 rushes for 439 yards and 7 touchdowns. Head Coach Jerry Kill has been the head coach of the Salukis now in his 2nd season has a 3-12 record as well as ties in Michigan. He was the head coach at Saginaw Valley State University for 5 seasons from 1994-1998, in 1997 and 1998 his teams were nationally ranked. The Eagles are coming off of demolishing loss to the Maryland Terrapins last week, 3-45 at Maryland. The Eagles are led by tailback Ime Akpan. Akpan has been a workhorse for the Eagles this season averaging 5.2 yards a carry, rushing 80 times for 412 yards and 3 touchdowns. Head Coach Jeff Woodruff guides the Eagles and is in his 3rd season with the Eagles. He has coached the Eagles to a 6-20 record during his time with the Eagles. The Salukis and Eagles have met on the football field 13 times over the years, but haven't played each other since 1961, that season Southern Illinois won the game 20-14 which evened out the series record at 6-6.

Miami (2-2) vs. Akron (0-4) (6:00pm ET)

The Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio will be the site of an important MAC East Division matchup between the Miami RedHawks and the Akron Zips. Miami held off the Kent State Golden Flashes last week, 27-21, to get an early jump on the MAC East title race. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leads Miami. Roethlisberger has completed 89 of 148 passes for 940 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. Head Coach Terry Hoeppner has led the RedHawks to a 22-16 record in his 4th season as the RedHawks head coach. The Akron Zips are still looking for their first win of the season after losing their last game to the Virginia Cavaliers last week 29-48. Quarterback Charlie Frye leads is another one of the many good quarterbacks in the Mid-American Conference. Frye leads the Zips and is second in the MAC with 85 completions in 133 attempts for 1,028 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Frye has also rushed 27 times for 39 yards and 2 touchdowns. Head Coach Lee Owens is in his 8th season as the head coach of the Zips. Coach Owens now owns a 29-52 record at Akron. Saturday marks the 14th meeting between the RedHawks and the Zips. Miami leads in the series with an 8-4-1 winning last season's game 30-27.

Liberty (1-2) vs. UCF (0-3) (6:00pm ET)

The University of Central Florida Golden Knights will host the Liberty Flames in Orlando Florida at the Citrus Bowl on Saturday. The Flames head into Orlando after losing to Appalachian State 22-29 last week. The Flames are led defensively by linebacker Kendrick Howard. Howard has recorded 37 tackles this season, 7 tackles for a loss of 7 yards. Head Coach Ken Karcher is in his 3rd season as the Flames head coach. Coach Karcher owns a 7-18 record as a head coach, all with the Liberty Flames. The UCF Golden Knights are looking for their first victory of the season and as a member of the MAC. The Golden Knights lost their conference opener last week to the Marshall Thundering Herd, 21-26. Quarterback Ryan Schneider leads the Golden Knights on the field and has put himself among the league leaders in passing in the MAC. So far on the season, Schneider has completed 56 of 104 passes for 755 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Head Coach Mike Kruczek is in his 5th season as the head coach of the UCF Golden Knights. Coach Kruczek has accumulated a record of 26-21 at UCF during his time as the head coach. Saturday's game will mark the 11th time that Liberty and UCF have met on the football field. UCF holds the series lead with a 7-3 record. In the last meeting a year ago, UCF defeated Liberty 63-0.

Buffalo (1-3) vs. Ohio (0-4) (7:00pm ET)

Saturday marks the conference opener for both the Buffalo Bulls and the Ohio Bobcats. In the final MAC game of the weekend, Buffalo travels to Athens, Ohio to take on the Bobcats at Peden Stadium. The Bulls are rebounding from a disappointing 41-17 loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Defensively, the Bulls are led by defensive back Mark Graham. Graham has recorded 30 tackles, 1 tackle (sack) for a loss of 7 yards, and 3 interceptions returned for 67 yards. Head Coach Jim Hofher is in his 2nd season with the Bulls. As a head coach, Jim has a record of 4-11. The Ohio Bobcats saw a late third quarter 19-6 lead turn into a 19-37 loss to the UConn Huskies. The Bobcats are led defensively by strong safety Joe Sellers who has recorded 40 tackles so far this season. In his 2nd season as the head coach of the Bobcats Head Coach Brian Knorr holds a 1-13 record. In the series dating back to 1949, the Bobcats own a 5-3 record against the Bulls, but Buffalo won last season's contest 44-0 at Buffalo.

Byes

Bowling Green (3-0)

The Bowling Green State University Falcons have the week off after an impressive 3-0 start to the 2002 football season. Last week the Falcons defeated the Kansas Jayhawks in an impressive fashion 39-16. That performance led to 3 Falcons being named MAC West Player of the Week. Running back Joe Alls was named Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for a career high of 161 yards and 1 touchdown and throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Josh Harris. Nose guard Alex Glantzis was named the MAC West Defensive Player of the Week after recording 9 tackles, 2 sacks, and forcing 2 fumbles one which ended up being recovered for a touchdown. Punter Pat Fleming was named the Special Teams Player of the Week. Fleming averaged 48.5 yards, with 7 punts including 1 for 61 yards. The man under center, quarterback Josh Harris leads an inspired offense at Bowling Green. Harris has recorded 36 completions in 70 attempts for 576 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Harris has rushed 43 times for 183 yards and 6 touchdowns. He has also caught 2 passes for 49 yards and 2 touchdowns. Head Coach Urban Meyer is in his 2nd season as the Falcons head coach and has obtained an 11-3 record for the Falcons. The Falcons next game will be October 5 against the Ohio Bobcats.

Marshall (2-1)

The Marshall Thundering Herd is taking the week off after playing Virginia Tech and UCF in back-to-back weeks. Last week the Herd defeated the UCF Golden Knights 26-21. Running back Brandon Casey earned MAC East Offensive Player of the Week honors after turning in a career high 142 yards on 28 carries. Kicker/Punter Curtis Head earned MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week honors after putting in a strong performance against the Golden Knights. Head connected on field goals of 41 and 22 yards, had 3 kickoffs result in touchbacks, and had 6 punts that averaged 40.7 yards including 2 punts that pinned the Golden Knights inside their own 20 yard line. Heisman Trophy candidate Byron Leftwich, currently the top quarterback in the MAC, is still putting up big numbers for the Thundering Herd despite the amount of passes his receivers drop. Leftwich has completed 86 of 139 passes for 1,215 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Leftwich has also rushed 20 times for 11 yards and 1 touchdown. Head Coach Bob Pruett is in his 7th season as the head coach of the Thundering Herd. In his tenure, Coach Pruett has amassed a record of 71-12. Up next for the Herd will be the Kent State Golden Flashes on October 5 in Kent, Ohio.

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