MAC Preview Week 6

On Saturday, eleven teams in the Mid-American Conference will see action on the football field this weekend as 10 of the 11 dive into the conference schedules to take on other MAC teams. The marquee matchup in the MAC this weekend will be between the defending MAC East defending champions against the upstart Kent State Golden Flashes.

Action gets underway at 1:00pm ET when the Broncos make their first ever trip to UB Stadium in Buffalo, New York to take on the Buffalo, Bulls. Miami travels to Cincinnati to take on their longtime rivals, the Cincinnati Bearcats, in the 107th meeting between the two schools, game time is set for 1:00pm ET at Nippert Stadium, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Northern Illinois travels to Muncie, Indiana to take on the Ball State Cardinals at 2:00pm ET at BSU Stadium. The Thundering Herd of Marshall University travel up to Kent, Ohio to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes in Dix Stadium at 2:00pm ET. The Bobcats of Ohio will head to Bowling Green to take on the Bowling Green State University Falcons in a 4:00pm ET contest at Doyt L. Perry Stadium. Finishing off the action in the MAC on Saturday will see the Akron Zips taking on the Eastern Michigan Eagles in Ypsilanti, Michigan at Rynearson Stadium at 6:00pm ET.

Western Michigan (1-3, 0-0) vs. Buffalo (1-4, 0-1) (1:00pm ET)

Saturday marks the start of the Mid-American Conference season for the Western Michigan University Broncos. After going 1-3 in their non-conference schedule including a 4 point loss to the Purdue Boilermakers and a strong first half effort against the #4 Virginia Tech Hokies, the Broncos start their MAC season at UB Stadium in Buffalo, New York. This game will mark the first time the Broncos will mark the first time the Broncos will have played in Buffalo in the program's 96 year history. On offense, junior quarterbacks Jon Drach and Chad Munson, senior wide receiver Jermaine Lewis, and junior running back Phil Reed lead the Broncos. Against Virginia Tech, Drach led the Broncos in all but one series. On the season, Drach has completed 50 out of 94 passes for 575 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Munson has completed 41 out of 68 yards for 532 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Lewis has been the favorite target among the Bronco quarterbacks, hauling in 18 passes for 247 yards, and 3 touchdowns, while Reed has been nothing less than a work horse rushing 58 times for 230 yards and 1 touchdown. Defensively, the Broncos have made great strides this season, including a phenomenal effort against Virginia Tech limiting their tailback tandem of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones to just 84 yards rushing combined. Senior safety Carlos Smith, senior linebacker Bryan Lape, junior safety Jason Feldpausch, senior cornerback Sam Reynolds, and senior defensive end Chris Browning lead the Broncos defensively. Smith leads the Broncos in tackles with 35 (10 unassisted tackles). Lape has recorded 31 tackles, 4 for a loss of 6 yards, ½ a sack, three deflected passes, 2 quarterback hurries, and 1 forced fumble. Feldpausch has become a nuisance to opposing offenses. If you want to find Feldpausch on the field, just follow the ball because somehow he ends up around the ball on virtually every play. Feldpausch has recorded 30 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss of 8 yards, 2 interceptions (including the first Virginia Tech interception thrown on the season) returned for 17 yards, 3 deflected passes, and 3 forced fumbles. Reynolds is 4th on the team in tackles with 24, 3 for a loss of 6 yards, 1 deflected pass, and 2 forced fumbles. Browning leads the Broncos in unassisted tackles with 20, he has a total of 24 tackles, 6 for a loss of 14 yards, 2 ½ sacks for 9 yards, and two quarterback hurries. Head Coach Gary Darnell has led the Broncos to a respectable 37-24 record in just his sixth season as the Broncos head coach.

Buffalo opened its MAC season last week in Athens, Ohio against the Ohio Bobcats. In that game the Bulls fell behind 28-9 in the third quarter. With just 4:39 left in the game Dallas Pelz connected on a 29-yard field goal giving the Bulls a 32-31 lead. Only to see the Bobcats steal the game away with 10 seconds left on the clock by a 37-yard Kevin Kerr field goal. Offensively sophomore quarterback Randall Secky, redshirt freshman running back Aaron Leeper, senior wide receiver Andre Forde, and senior tight end Chad Bartoszek lead the Bulls on the field. Secky has completed 90 of 174 passes for 1018 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Forde and Bartoszek are Secky's favorite downfield targets; Forde has caught 32 passes for 481 yards and 6 touchdowns, as a safety valve Bartoszek has caught 17 passes for 145 yards. On the ground Leeper has rushed 107 times for 414 yards and 4 touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball sophomore defensive back J.J. Gibson, junior linebacker Lamar Wilcher, junior defensive back Mark Graham, and sophomore linebacker Rodney Morris lead the Bulls. Gibson and Wilcher are tied for the team lead in tackles with 36, while Gibson and Graham are tied for the team lead in unassisted tackles with 28. Graham also has the team lead with interceptions with 3 returned for 67 yards. Morris has recorded 31 tackles and has recovered one fumble. Head Coach Jim Hofher has led a team that had won 1 game in its first two seasons in the MAC to a 4-12 record in just his 2nd season as the Bulls head coach.

This game marks just the 2nd time ever that these two schools will wage battle on the football field. The Broncos won the first meeting at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, in 1999, 45-17.

Miami (3-2, 2-0) vs. Cincinnati (2-2, 1-0) (1:00pm ET)

In the oldest rivalry west of the Alleghenies, the Miami RedHawks and the Cincinnati Bearcats will battle for the Victory Bell on Saturday in Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium. The RedHawks won their last game against the Akron Zips, in Akron last week, 48-31. The win over the Zips gave the RedHawks a 1 game lead over the Marshall Thundering Herd and Ohio Bobcats in the MAC East Division race. Sophomore quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, sophomore wide receiver Michael Larkin, senior wide receiver Jason Branch, junior wide receivers Korey Kirkpatrick, and junior tailback Luke Clemens are the offensive leaders for this season's RedHawks team. Roethlisberger has completed 105 out of 170 passes for 1,180 yards, 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Roethlisberger loves to spread the ball around and it shows with the performances put up by Larkin, Branch, and Kirkpatrick. Larkin leads all RedHawks receivers with 21 catches for 209 yards and 4 touchdowns, While Branch and Kirkpatrick have combined for 30 catches for 370 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Providing the RedHawks with the option to balance out their offense is Clemens. Clemens provides an added dimension to an already tough Miami offense. Clemens has carried the ball 85 times, gaining 381 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Sophomore strong safety Matt Pusateri, junior linebacker Terrell Jones and senior linebacker Matt Robillard lead the RedHawks defensively. Pusateri leads the RedHawks in unassisted tackles and total tackles with 38 solo tackles and 56 total tackles. Jones has recorded 50 tackles, including 1 sack for 11 yards, and has 1 fumble recovery. Robillard has recorded 43 tackles including 2 sacks for 9 yards. Head Coach Terry Hoeppner has coached Miami to a 23-16 record in just his 4th season as the head coach of the RedHawks.

The Cincinnati Bearcats evened out their record last week with a 35-22 win over Temple. In that win, sophomore quarterback Gino Guidugli threw for 312 and 3 touchdowns. Guidugli, senior wide receivers LaDaris Vann, Tye Keith, Jon Olinger, and senior running back DeMarco McCleskey lead the Bearcats offensively. On the season, Guidugli has completed 88 out of 159 passes for 1,198 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. Vann has been Guidugli's favorite receiver catching 27 passes for 385 yards and 3 touchdowns. Keith and Olinger have combined for 31 catches for 477 yards and 4 touchdowns. McCleskey evens out the offense by providing the Bearcats with a solid rushing attack. On the season, McCleskey has rushed 73 times for 328 yards and 5 touchdowns. Defensively, the leaders of this Bearcats team are senior free safety Ivan Fields, senior defensive end Antwan Peek, and sophomore strong safety Doug Monaghan. Fields and Peek are tied for the team lead in tackles with 35, but Fields leads the team in solo tackles with 27. Peek leads the Bearcats in tackles for losses (7 for 26 yards) and sacks (4 for 23 yards). Monaghan has 34 tackles and 1 interception. Head Coach Rick Minter is in his 9th season with Cincinnati. He has a coaching record of 43-51-1 with the Bearcats.

This game marks the 107th meeting in the 114-year history of this rivalry. The Miami RedHawks own the series advantage with a record of 56-43-7, including a 21-14 win at Miami last season.

Marshall (2-1, 1-0) vs. Kent State (2-3, 0-2) (2:00pm ET, ESPN Plus)

Marshall returns to action on Saturday with a trip to Kent, Ohio to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes at Dix Stadium. In Marshall's last game, they held on to defeat the UCF Golden Knights in their MAC season opener, 26-21. Senior quarterback Byron Leftwhich, sophomore wide receiver Josh Davis, and senior wide receiver Curtis Jones lead the Herd's high powered, high octane offense. Leftwhich had his string of consecutive games throwing over 400 yards snapped against UCF throwing for 340 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the season Leftwhich has completed 86 of 139 passes for 1,215 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Davis and Jones have been Leftwhich's favorite targets this season. Davis has caught 23 passes for 423 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jones has caught 19 passes for 307 yards and 1 touchdown. Senior linebacker Duran Smith, sophomore defensive Jamus Martin, and sophomore defensive back J.T. Rembert are the defensive leaders on this Herd team. Smith leads the Herd in tackles as well as solo tackles with 35 tackles (23 solo tackles), including 1 sack. Martin and Rembert are tied for second on the team with 28 tackles, tied for 1st on the team with 3 tackles for losses. Rembert is also tied with Terence Tarpley with 1 interception. Head Coach Bob Pruett owns a 69-11 record as Marshall's head coach.

The Golden Flashes are coming off a tough 13-6 loss to the Northern Illinois Huskies. That loss can be attributed to the ability of the Huskies to shut down Kent State sophomore quarterback Joshua Cribbs. Cribbs, sophomore tailback Eddie Beccles, and sophomore split end Darrell Dowery lead the high flying Golden Flashes offense. Cribbs leads the offense in rushing and passing. On the ground Cribbs has gained 699 yards on 80 carries, scoring 6 touchdowns. In the air Cribbs has thrown 63 completions in 123 attempts for 715 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Beccles has complimented Cribbs running game by contributing 297 yards on 58 carries, scoring 1 touchdown. Dowery is Cribbs' favorite target, snagging 20 passes for 206 yards. The area that has seen a lot of progress for the Golden Flashes this season has been the defense. Sophomore linebacker Eric Mahl, senior cornerback Nashville Dyer and sophomore free safety Shannon Davis provide the leadership for this much-improved Kent State defense. Mahl put in a strong performance against Northern Illinois that garnered him the MAC East Division Defensive Player of the Week award this week. On the season Mahl has recorded a team high 44 tackles and 1 forced fumble. Dyer leads the Flashes with 30 solo tackles and 3 interceptions, while Davis has recorded 28 total tackles, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles. Head Coach Dan Pees has been putting together a winning program at Kent State that enjoyed their first winning season in over a decade last season. Coach Pees currently owns an 11-38 record, winning 7 of his last 11 games.

Saturday's game marks the 33rd game between the two schools, with Kent State owning the series record 18-14, despite losing to Marshall last season 40-21.

Northern Illinois (2-3, 1-0) vs. Ball State (2-2, 0-0) (2:00pm ET)

Ball State Stadium gates will open up on Saturday for the Ball State Cardinal's MAC opener against the Northern Illinois Huskies. The Huskies won a close game last week in their MAC opener against the Kent State Golden Flashes 13-6. The Huskies go into the game without senior tailback Thomas Hammock. Hammock is sidelined for the season do to a heart condition. Senior wide receiver P.J. Fleck is also sidelined for the season with a left hamstring injury. Despite the injuries to two of the Huskies key players, they have still been able to maintain their offensive edge. Junior tailback Michael Turner, sophomore quarterback Josh Haldi, freshman wide receiver Sam Hurd and sophomore wide receiver Dan Sheldon lead the Huskies on offense. Turner has been nothing but stellar in his duties as a replacement for Hammock. Turner has rushed the ball 140 times for 742 yards and 5 touchdowns. Haldi has completed 54 of 119 passes for 756 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. Sheldon and Hurd have become Haldi's favorite targets downfield. Sheldon has 12 passes for 228 yards and 1 touchdown. Hurd is just 3 steps behind Sheldon catching 12 passes for 225 yards and 1 touchdown. Junior safety Akil Grant, junior linebacker Nick Duffy, senior linebacker Larry Williams and senior safety Justin Dole lead the Huskies defensively. Grant leads the Huskies with 57 tackles and he has forced 1 fumble and intercepted 1 pass. Duffy has recorded 55 tackles and 4 sacks. Williams leads the team in solo tackles with 39 and has forced 2 fumbles. Dole has recorded 35 tackles and 1 interception. Head Coach Joe Novak's record currently stands at 22-49 in his seventh season.

The Ball State Cardinals got their first win over a Division 1-A school last week by defeating the UConn Huskies 24-21 in overtime. The Cardinals provide a balanced offensive attack with a strong running and passing attack. Junior quarterback Talmadge Hill, wide receivers freshman Dante Ridgeway and 5th year senior Sean Schembra and 5th year senior tailback Marcus Merriweather provide the necessary leadership to lead this veteran offense. Hill has completed 66 of 94 passes for 570 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. Ridgeway and Schembra have combined for 23 catches for 237 yards. Merriweather is still leading his assault on the Ball State record books. So far, on the season, Merriweather has rushed 105 times for 481 yards and 4 touchdowns. Defensively, junior linebackers Lorenzo Scott and Justin Beriault lead the Cardinals. Scott leads the Cardinals in tackles with 43 and tackles for loss with 6 for 8. Beriault has recorded 36 tackles. At the end of last season, Head Coach Bill Lynch had his contract extended to January 31, 2004 while posting a 28-30 record at Ball State.

This game will mark the 30th time these two teams will have met on the football field. In the series Ball State owns a 17-10-2 advantage over the Huskies. Northern Illinois has won the last three meetings including last season's contest 33-29 in DeKalb, Illinois.

Ohio (1-4, 1-0) vs. Bowling Green (3-0, 0-0) (4:00pm ET, ESPN GamePlan, Ohio Sports Network)

The Ohio Bobcats have the daunting task of traveling to Bowling Green, Ohio to take on the Bowling Green Falcons at Doyt L. Perry Stadium. The Bobcats halted a 4-game losing streak last Saturday when senior place kicker Kevin Kerr kicked a 37-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the game against Buffalo. Kerr's kick won the game for Ohio 34-32 and won him the MAC's Special Teams Player of the Week award. The Bobcats have had some trouble getting their offense started this season, but senior quarterback Dontrell Jackson and senior tailback Chad Brinker have provided more than enough leadership to kick start this potent flexbone option offense. Jackson has completed 26 of 51 passes for 267 yards and 7 interceptions while rushing 82 times for 303 yards and 2 touchdowns, his efforts against Buffalo earned him the MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week Award this week. Brinker's number has been called on 109 times for 509 yards and 4 touchdowns. Despite the lack of offensive output, the Bobcats pride themselves on being a tough defense, which can be verified when they played against the Florida Gators earlier this season. The Gators held a 14-6 lead heading into half time, before pulling away in the 4th quarter for a 34-6 win. Senior safety Joe Sellers, sophomore linebacker Dennis Chukwuemeka, and sophomore cornerback Chip Cox lead the 38th ranked defense in the country. Sellers leads the Bobcats in tackles this season with 55. Chukwuemeka has the most solo tackles (27) and the most tackles for losses (9 for 24 yards) and has recovered 2 fumbles. Cox has recorded 31 tackles and leads the Bobcats with 8 pass breakups.

Bowling Green is back in action this week after taking a week off after an impressive 3-0 start to the 2002 season. Junior quarterback Josh Harris, 5th year senior wide receiver Robert Redd, and 5th year senior tailback Joe Alls has propelled the Falcons into the team to beat category. Harris has rushed the ball 43 times for 183 yards and 6 touchdowns. Harris has also completed 36 out of 70 passes for 576 yards, 2 touchdowns, and two interceptions. Redd has become Harris' favorite target, hauling in 19 passes for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns. Alls has gained 346 yards on 44 carries, scoring 2 touchdowns. Defensively, the Falcons have been extremely tough ranking among the nation's best defenses. Junior linebacker Mitch Hewitt leads the Falcons defense, which has 4 players tied for 2nd in tackles with 17. Hewitt has recorded 22 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumbles recovered. Head Coach Urban Meyer is enjoying early success in his second season as the Falcons head coach. Coach Meyer has recorded a record of 11-3 at Bowling Green.

This game will be the 52nd consecutive year that Ohio and Bowling Green have played against each other, and the 55th game of this rivalry. Bowling Green owns the series record 31-21-2, winning the game last season 17-0.

Akron (0-2, 0-5) vs. Eastern Michigan (2-3, 0-1) (6:00pm ET)

Akron visits Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti, Michigan to take on the Eagles at Rynearson Stadium on Saturday. Akron lost to Miami last week in conference action, 48-31, despite a strong showing by sophomore quarterback Charlie Frye. Frye completed 29 of 46 passes for a school record of 348 yards. Frye, junior wide receivers Matt Cherry and Miquel Irvin, senior running back Brandon Payne and junior backup quarterback Nick Sparks are the offensive leaders on this team. Frye has recorded 114 completions out of 179 passes for 1,376 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Cherry and Sparks have been his favorite targets. Cherry has caught 29 of Fry's passes for 394 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sparks has caught 13 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown. Irvin and Payne have combined for 38 receptions for 324 yards and 1 touchdown. Defensively, the Zips have had a few challenges allowing their opponents 48 points in two consecutive games and have allowed at least 24 points a game this season. Sophomore linebacker Chase Blackburn, senior linebacker Ryan Myers, and senior defensive back Kris Williams lead the Zips defensively. Blackburn and Williams lead the team in solo tackles with 20 each. Blackburn leads the Zips in total tackles with 39. Myers has recorded 34 tackles on the season. Along with his 32 tackles, Williams has recorded 1 interception this season. Head Coach Lee Owens now owns a 29-53 record at Akron.

The Eastern Michigan Eagles won just their second game of the season last weekend, defeating D-1AA Southern Illinois University 48-45 in overtime. The Eagles won on senior tailback Ime Akpan's 2-yard run for his 4th touchdown of the game. Akpan's 251 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns earned him the MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week award this week. Akpan, senior quarterback Troy Edwards, and senior wide receiver Kevin Walter offensively lead the Eagles. Akpan has rushed 117 times for 663 yards and 7 touchdowns. Edwards has completed 87 out of 160 passes for 992 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. Walter has been the Eagles' primary receiver making 38 catches for 486 yards and 4 touchdowns. Defensively the Eagles have had a rough time. They have not held an opponent under 32 points a game and in the last two games they have allowed 45 points in both games. Junior linebacker David Lusky leads the Eagles defensively. Lusky leads the Eagles in solo tackles (24), assisted tackles (29), total tackles (53), and tackles for loss (5). Lusky has also forced 2 fumbles. Head Coach Jeff Woodruff now owns a 7-20 record at Eastern Michigan in his 3rd season.

With Eastern Michigan also hosting 21 high school bands in the annual Band Day, this will mark the 25th meeting between the Eagles and Zips. Akron holds the series lead with a 14-10 record. Akron won last season's meeting 65-62 in triple overtime.

Byes

UCF (1-3, 0-1)

The University of Central Florida Golden Knights get the week off after starting their first season in the MAC with a 1-3 record. Last week the Golden Knights were able to get their first win of the season, a 48-17 decision over Liberty. Junior quarterback Ryan Schneider and senior wide receiver Doug Gabriel have provided the majority of the Golden Knights offense this season. Schneider, the leader on the field offensively, has completed 80 out of 136 passes for 1164 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Gabriel has caught 25 passes for 461 yards and 3 touchdowns. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Stanford Rhule and sophomore safety Peter Sands lead the Golden Knights. Stanford leads the Knights in assisted tackles (25), total tackles (49), tackles for loss (8), sacks (3), and forced fumbles (2). Stanford also has 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery. Rhule leads UCF in solo tackles with 29. Rhule has recorded 46 tackles and 1 interception. Head Coach Mike Kruczek now owns a 27-21 record at UCF.

Central Michigan (3-2, 1-0)

After starting the season with 3 straight wins, the Central Michigan Chippewas have lost the last two games. Last week the suffered through their worst loss of the season, a 43-0 loss to Boston College. Senior halfback Robbie Mixon, junior quarterback Derrick Vickers, senior wide receivers Rob Turner and Rod Means, and junior wide receiver Steve Messam have provided the Chippewas with an offensive resurgence this season. Mixon has rushed 143 times for 626 yards and 4 touchdowns. Vickers has completed 96 out of 161 passes for 1,082 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Turner has caught 17 of Vickers passes for 188 yards. Messam has caught 16 passes for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Means has caught 15 passes for 216 yards and 1 touchdown. Head Coach Mike DeBord is in his 3rd season as the Chippewas head coach. His record now stands at 8-19.

Toledo (3-2, 1-0)

The Toledo Rockets get the week off after starting the season with a 3-2 record. Last week the Rockets lost to the Pittsburgh Panthers 37-19 despite putting up 435 yards of total offense. With the offensive leadership of senior quarterback Brian Jones and senior tailback William Bratton, the Rockets are still able to spread the wealth among 12 different receivers. Jones has completed 85 of 123 passes for 980 yards 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. William Bratton has provided the Rockets with the necessary ground attack to the point that they don't seem to miss form Rocket great Chester Taylor. Bratton has rushed 72 times for 401 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Rockets have allowed a team to score more than 21 points just twice this season; both times they have lost. When they allow 21 points or less the Rockets are 3-0. Senior linebackers Tom Ward and David Gardner have been the workhorses for the Rockets' defense. Ward leads the Rockets 60 tackles, he is tied with Gardner in solo tackles with 36 each. Gardner leads the team in tackles for loss (6 ½) and sacks (3). Ward has recorded 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery, while Gardner has recorded 2 interceptions. Head Coach Tom Amstutz now owns a 13-4 record as the head coach of the Rockets.

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