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CFB Week 1 Previews: Mid-American Conference (MAC)

WEEK 1 NOTES

Thursday, September 1st
St. Francis (Pa.) (0-0) at Akron (0-0)
6 pm ET | ESPN3
The University of Akron football team opens its 122nd season with a showdown with Saint Francis (Pa.) on Thursday, Sept. 1. Joe Moorhead, one of the most ingenious offensive minds in football, was named the head coach of The University of Akron football program in December. A native of Pittsburgh, Moorhead returns to the Midwest, where he was a member of the Zips coaching staff from 2004-08, including serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2006-2008. Four University of Akron football players were named to Phil Steele’s 2022 preseason All-Mid-American Conference teams. Earning preseason first-team All-MAC was LB Bubba Arslanian. Named to the preseason second-team All-MAC was TE Tristian Brank, while redshirt junior LS Kyle Bauman, senior DB Jalen Hooks, redshirt senior DL Victor Jones, and redshirt sophomore OL Alex Robarge garnered preseason fourth-team All-MAC honors.

Central Michigan (0-0) at No. 12 Oklahoma State (0-0)
7 pm ET | FS1
Central Michigan opens the season at Oklahoma State on Thursday, Sept. 1. CMU has won seven of its last 10 season-opening games with all three loses coming to Power 5 opponents. Heading into the 2022 season, Lew Nichols III was named a preseason All-American by Pro Football Network. He also is on the watch lists for the Walter Camp Award, the Doak Walker Award, and the Maxwell Award. Last season, Nichols led the nation in rushing with 1,848 yards, rushing yards per game (142.2), all-purpose yardage (2,186), all-purpose yards per game (168.2) and total carries (341).

Ball State (0-0) at Tennessee (0-0)
7 pm ET | SEC Network
Ball State is set to square off with Tennessee for the first time in series history to kick off its 98th season in 2022. Fresh off its second consecutive season with a bowl appearance, Ball State begins its season aiming to accomplish something that has never been done in program history: make it to a bowl game in three straight seasons. The Cardinals have appeared in two straight seasons three times: 2007-08, 2012-13 and 2020-21, and have won 13 games over the past two campaigns, which is the most in the Mid-American Conference. 8 Out of the 112 players on the roster, 83 are classified as underclassmen. The 83 underclassmen total ranks as the 18th-highest in college football. In addition, Ball State’s roster makeup of 74.1 percent underclassmen ranks as the seventh-highest in the FBS.

Long Island (0-0) at Toledo (0-0)
7 pm ET | ESPN3
The Rockets open the season by hosting Long Island University at the Glass Bowl on Thursday, Sept. 1 (7:00 p.m./ ESPN3). Toledo returns 41 letter-winners overall from last year’s team. A total of 15 starters return from 2021, and 18 players overall have been starters at some point in their career. Among the starters returning from last season’s squad are a total of seven players who have made All-MAC at some point in their career. Five returners made All-MAC in 2021, and two others were honored in previous seasons. Last season, Toledo ranked first in the MAC in both scoring offense (33.4) and scoring defense (21.8). Those figures ranked 26th and 27th in the country, respectively.

Eastern Illinois (0-0) at Northern Illinois (0-0)
8 pm ET/7pm CT | ESPN+
The Huskies are the defending Mid-American Conference Champions and were selected by league media to again claim the MAC West title with nine of 24 voters also choosing NIU to repeat as MAC Champs. NIU returns 22 starters, including 21 on offense and defense, in 2022, including quarterback Rocky Lombardi, four of five starting offensive linemen with a combined 86 career starts and six defenders with at least seven starts. Eight different Huskies were named to one or more of the national awards preseason watch lists this summer, led by 2021 first team All-MAC safety C.J. Brown, who earned recognition on the Jim Thorpe, Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik preseason watch lists.

Friday, September 2nd
Western Michigan (0-0) at No. 15 Michigan State (0-0)
7 pm ET | ESPN
Western Michigan embarks on its 117th season of college football in 2022. The Broncos are fresh off its second bowl win in program history, a 52-24 drubbing of Nevada in the Quick Lane Bowl. For the first time since 2019 there will be a new starting quarterback for the Broncos. With Kaleb Eleby departing early for the NFL, redshirt-freshman Jack Salopek has earned the starting job behind center. Western Michigan junior running back Sean Tyler is coming off a career-best season that saw him finish with 1,150 yards on the ground and nine rushing touchdowns. It was his first time eclipsing 1,000 yards and the 13th-most in a single season.

Eastern Kentucky (0-0) at Eastern Michigan (0-0)
7 pm ET | ESPN3
The 2022 Eastern Michigan University football season is set to begin Friday, Sept. 2, when EMU welcomes Eastern Kentucky University to town for a 7 p.m. matchup inside The Factory at Rynearson Stadium. EMU is 78-46-1 (.624) all-time in its home opener. Furthermore, the Eagles are 44-17-1 (.717) when opening the season at home. Friday’s game marks the 12th time in the last 15 years that the Eagles have opened the season at home in Rynearson Stadium.

Saturday, September 3rd
Buffalo (0-0) at Maryland (0-0)
Noon ET | Big Ten Network
Buffalo will kick off the 2022 season on the road at Maryland on Saturday. Buffalo returns nine starters from last season, including six on the defensive side of the ball. The Bulls were picked third in the MAC East Division preseason poll. The Bulls are 1-10 all time against teams from the Big Ten Conference. UB won at Rutgers in 2018 for its first Big Ten win. Buffalo did defeat Penn State in 1900 and Rutgers in 2002, but it was before the teams joined the conference.

Bowling Green (0-0) at UCLA (0-0)
2:30 pm ET | PAC-12 Network
Bowling Green State University opens its 104th season of football at UCLA on Saturday. It will mark the first meeting between Bowling Green and UCLA in football. Since the start of the FBS era in 1978, Saturday marks the first time a MAC school will play a game at the Rose Bowl. Preseason All-American Darren Anders was No. 8 in the nation in 2021 with 10.33 tackles per game. He is one of three players in all of FBS over the past two seasons to rank in the Top-15 nationally in tackles and the only one who returns to the college football ranks in 2022.

Florida Atlantic (1-0) at Ohio (0-0)
6 pm ET | ESPN+
The Ohio football team (0-0) opens the 2022 season in Athens when the Bobcats take on Florida Atlantic (1-0) in the first game at the newly named Frank Solich Field at Peden Stadium. Solich is the winningest head coach in MAC history with 115 overall victories. Ohio finished the 2021 season 3-9 overall and 3-5 in MAC play. Overall, the Bobcats averaged 22.58 points per game to go along with 371.4 total yards per game. Of the returning Bobcats, QB Kurtis Rourke went 169-for-259, throwing 11 touchdowns. On the ground, Rourke net 327 yards and scored three touchdowns. O’Shaan Allison added 269 yards on the ground, while Sieh Bangura finished with 93 yards in four games.

Miami (0-0) at No. 20 Kentucky (0-0)
7 pm ET | ESPN+
Miami opens the 2022 season on Saturday, Sept. 3 versus No. 20 Kentucky. Opening kick is slated for 7 p.m. The RedHawks rank first all-time in the Mid-American Conference in wins (707), conference wins (306), MAC Championships (16) and bowl wins (8). The RedHawks are coming off a season where they picked up a bowl win over North Texas in the Frisco Football Classic. Miami QB Brett Gabbert is responsible for 45 touchdowns (41 passing, 4 rushing) in his Miami career. Gabbert ranks seventh in program history with 5,443 passing yards, completion percentage (.579) and passing touchdowns (41).

Kent State (0-0) at Washington (0-0)
10:30 pm ET | FS1
The Golden Flashes set numerous records in 2021, setting the program record for plays (1,052), yards (6,907), first downs (362), rushing yards (3, 482) and passing yards (3425). The Flashes will return their top rusher (Marquez Cooper ) and top receiver (Dante Cephas) for 2022. Cooper became the Flashes’ first 1000 yard rusher since both Traylon Durham and Dri Archer topped 1k in 2012. Cooper’s 1,205 yards are the eighth-most in a single season in Kent State history. Cephas’ 1,240 yards are second most ever in a season as are his 82 receptions, his nine touchdowns last season are third-most all time. Cephas earned a spot on the Biletnikoff Award watch list for the second-straight year, the award goes to the nation’s top receiver. Collin Schlee will take over as the starting quarterback after Dustin Crum’s graduation, Schlee has appeared in eight game at Kent, completing 65 percent of his passes for 351 yards and three TDs and rushed for 212 yards and four TDs.

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