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2011 MAC Football Picks - Week #1 Preview
New Hampshire (0-0, 0-0 Colonial) at Toledo (0-0, 0-0 MAC)
Thursday, September 1, 2011 • 7:00 pm ET • Toledo, Ohio • Glass Bowl (26,248)
BCSN / ESPN3 / Live Streaming via www.mac-sports.com
Series: Toledo leads 3-0
Notes: The Wildcats return 47 letter winners, including 16 starters (5 offense/5 defense/6 special teams) off last year’s 8-5 team that earned a NCAA D-1 Playoff appearance, including Division I quarterfinals for the sixth time in seven years...DE Brian McNally set a single-season school record with 13.5 sacks last year. The Rockets have 49 returning letter winners on their roster, including 19 starters (9 offense/8 defense/2 special teams) off last year’s 8-5 team that earned an invite to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl…WR Eric Page caught 99 receptions and was the only player in FBS to score three touchdowns on kickoff returns.
Nick’s Pick: Toledo 24 – UNH 17
Comment: The Wildcats have had several wins over DIA teams in the past decade including Marshall, Army, Ball State & Northwestern; look for a dogfight from one of the very best FCS programs in the nation.
Villanova (0-0, 0-0 Colonial) at Temple (0-0, 0-0 MAC)
Thursday, September 1, 2011 • 7:00 pm ET • Philadelphia, Pa. • Lincoln Financial Field (68,532)
ESPN3 • Announcers: TBA
Series: Villanova leads 16-13-2
Notes: Villanova returns 25 letter winners and 12 starters from last year’s national semifinal squad that went 9-5 overall, 5-3 in CAA...Need to replace Chris Whitney, who graduated as the program’s all-time winningest QB (34-10 as a starter), fourth in passing yards (6,241), eighth in rushing yards (2,160) and fourth in total offense (8,401)...This is the third Mayor’s Cup between Villanova and Temple. The Owls return 46 letter winners, including 13 starters (8 offense/5 defense)...Last year’s squad went 8-4 overall, 5-3 MAC...QB Gerardi was a walk-on turned starter last year as he started the last five contests and was 93-of-156 passing for 1,290 yards and 10 TDs.
Nick’s Pick: Temple 21 – ‘Nova 20
Comment: Another classic in this newly revived city rivalry.
South Carolina State (0-0, 0-0 MEAC) at Central Michigan (0-0, 0-0 MAC)
Thursday, September 1, 2011 • 7:00 pm ET • Mount Pleasant, Mich. • Kelly/Shorts Stadium (30,255)
Live Streaming via www.mac-sports.com
Series: First Meeting
Notes: SC State went 9-3 overall last season, 7-1 in MEAC play...Bulldogs return 16 starters (6 offense/8 defense/2 specialists) and 44 letter winners...Defensively SC State returns LB Donovan Richards and DE Pat Washington, who combined for 14 sacks...Head Coach Buddy Pough starts tenth season. Central Michigan returns 35 letter winners, including 15 starters (8 offense/6 defense/1 specialist)…QB Ryan Radcliff ranked in the top-15 nationally in passing yards and completions in 2010, and he posted three of his best performances during the season’s final month...Despite last year’s 3-9 record, the Chippewas lost five games by a combined 19 points.
Nick’s Pick: Central 35 – SC State 22
Comment: The Bulldogs are not a pushover.
Bowling Green (0-0, 0-0 MAC) at Idaho (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
Thursday, September 1, 2011 • 9:00 pm ET • Moscow ID. • Kibbie Dome (16,000)
Altitude Sports Television Network
Series: Idaho leads 1-0
Notes: BGSU returns 12 starters (6 offense/6 defense) and 38 letter winners from last year’s 2-10 squad...Sophomore QB Matt Schilz started 10 games last season and threw for 2,223 yards and 8 TDs...WR Kamar Jorden was a first-team
All-MAC selection with 96 receptions and 1,109 yards. Idaho has 45 letter winners returning from last year’s 6-7 squad...RB Princeton McCarty was the Vandal’s second leading rusher last year with 380 yards and totaled 527 all-purpose yards...QB Brian Reader appeared in 10 games last year and will try to replace four-year starter Nathan Enderle.
Nick’s Pick: Idaho 33 – BGSU 24
Comment: Tough game to call, the Vandals have had recent success against the MAC so I expect it to continue at home in the dome.
Akron (0-0, 0-0 MAC) at Ohio State (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, September 3, 2011 • Noon ET • Columbus, Ohio • Ohio Stadium (102,329)
ESPN • Announcers: TBA
Series: Ohio State leads 6-1
Notes: Akron returns 35 letter winners and 13 starters (5 offense/8 defense) from last year’s squad...LB Brian Wagner was named to the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List. OSU finished last season ranked No. 5 in the AP and USA Today Polls...Return 11 starters and 45 letter winners...Fickell needs to replace four offensive and seven defensive starters, and fill temporary voids left by starters WR DeVier Posey, RB Daniel “Boom” Herron, LT Mike Adams on offense and DE Solomon
Thomas on defense–all of whom will miss the first five games of 2011.
Nick’s Pick: Ohio State 56 – Akron 0
Comment: The Buckeyes have been waiting several months to beat on someone ever since the Jim Tressel mess began months ago, sadly for Zip fans Akron is in the line of fire.
Miami (0-0, 0-0 MAC) at Missouri (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Saturday, September 3, 2011 • Noon ET • Columbia, Mo. • Memorial/Faurot Field (68,349)
FOX Sports Net • Announcers: TBA
Series: Missouri leads 1-0
Notes: The RedHawks return 20 starters (8 offense/9 defense/3 specialists) and 48 letter winners from last year’s squad that won the MAC Championship with a 10-4 mark, 7-1 in the MAC and defeated Middle Tennessee 35-21 in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Missouri returns 18 starters (9 offense/8 defense/1 specialist) and 36 letter winners returning from last year’s 10-3 squad...The Tigers have won 40 games over the last four years (which ranks as 6th-best in the NCAA from 2007-10 among BCS-AQ conferences)...Tigers have been to a school record six consecutive bowl games, including last year’s Insight Bowl invitation.
Nick’s Pick: Missouri 48 – Miami 27
Comment: These Tigers have a chance for a very special season.
Kent State (0-0, 0-0 MAC) at Alabama (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
Saturday, September 3, 2011 • 12:20 pm ET • Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Bryant-Denny Stadium (92,138)
SEC Network • Announcers: TBA
Series: First Meeting
Notes: Kent State returns 18 starters (9 offense/5 defense/4 specialists) and 44 letter winners from last year’s, 5-7 squad, 4-4 in the MAC…Last year Kent State ranked third in the nation in tackles for loss (8.3), fourth in rushing defense (97.2), eighth in sacks (2.9) and 10th in total defense (306.7). Alabama returns 19 starters and 51 lettermen from last year’s 10-3 squad, with 23 lettermen and seven starters on offense, 24 lettermen and nine starters on defense, while all three starting specialists return...S Robert Lester was a second team Walter Camp All-American in 2010, and led SEC and was second nationally with eight interceptions.
Nick’s Pick: Alabama 51 – Kent State 3
Comment: Not the kind of game new coach Darrell Hazell wanted to begin his career with, hopefully KSU alum Nick Saban will not run up the score.
Western Michigan (0-0, 0-0 MAC) at Michigan (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, September 3, 2011 • 3:30 pm ET • Ann Arbor, Mich. • Michigan Stadium (109,201)
ABC/ESPN2 • Announcers: TBD
Series: Michigan leads 5-0
Notes: The Broncos return 16 starters (7 offense/7 defense/2 specialists) and 40 letter winners from last year’s squad that finished 6-6, 5-3 in the MAC...WR Jordan White set a career-mark last season with 94 receptions and 1,378 yards and ranked fourth in the nation with 114.8 ypg...QB Alex Carder ranked 12th in the nation in total offense (296.7 ypg). Michigan returns 21 starters (9 offense/9 defense/3 specialists) and 57 letter winners from last year’s 7-6 squad...QB Denard Robinson became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in a single season in 2010 and was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
Nick’s Pick: Michigan 45 – Western 17
Comment: Michigan will quickly return to the Michigan of old under Brady Hoke.
Buffalo (0-0, 0-0 MAC) at Pittsburgh (0-0, 0-0 Big East)
Saturday, September 3, 2011 • 6:00 pm ET • Pittsburgh, Pa. • Heinz Field (65,000)
ESPN3 • Announcers: TBA
Series: Pittsburgh leads 2-0
Notes: Buffalo returns 12 starters (9 offense/3 defense) and 50 letter winners from last year’s 2-10 squad...QB Chazz Anderson transferred from Cincinnati... Buffalo returns their top five receivers from last year who combined for 147
receptions and 17 TDs...LB Khalil Mack led the team with 14.5 tackles for loss as a freshman last year. Pittsburgh returns 13 starters (5 offense, 8 defense) and 43 lettermen from last year’s 8-5 squad, 5-2 in the Big East and a tie for first place....Panthers defeated Kentucky, 27-10, in the 2011 BBVA Compass Bowl...Pitt’s regular season schedule features eight teams that advanced to bowl games last year.
Nick’s Pick: Pitt 52 – Buffalo 16
Comment: Pitt finally has a real coach in Todd Graham who will quickly make the Panthers relevant again on the national stage.
Howard (0-0, 0-0 MEAC) at Eastern Michigan (0-0, 0-0 MAC)
Saturday, September 3, 2011 • 7:00 pm ET • Ypsilanti, Mich. • Rynearson Stadium (30,200)
Live streaming via www.mac-sports.com
Series: Eastern Michigan leads 1-0
Notes: Howard returns 16 starters (7 offense/9 defense) and 35 lettermen from last year’s 1-10 squad, 0-8 in the MEAC...WR Willie Carter and LB Keith Pough were both named to the preseason watch list for the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) by the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA). The Eagles return 43 letter winners and 17 starters (7 offense/7 defense/3 specialists) from last year’s team that went 2-10, 2-8 in the MAC...Last year, EMU rushed for 2,080 yards on 511 carries, which ranked sixth-best net rushing yardage in school history...QB Alex Gillett started all 12 games last year and his 2,399 total yards were eighth best in a single-season in program history.
Nick’s Pick: Eastern 33 – Howard 20
Comment: Eastern needs a game like Howard on their schedule early to gain confidence and earn a “W” in any way possible.
Indiana (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at Ball State (0-0, 0-0 MAC)
Saturday, September 3, 2011 • 7:00 pm ET • Indianapolis, Ind. • Lucas Oil Stadium (63,000)
ESPN3 • Announcers: TBD
Series: Indiana leads 4-1
Notes: First year coach Kevin Wilson spent the 2002-10 seasons at Oklahoma, where he served as co-offensive coordinator and OL coach (2002-05) and as offensive coordinator and TEs/FBs coach (2006-10)...WR Damarlo Belcher became the 15th Hoosier with 100 career receptions and 1,000 career yards last season, ranks third on career list with 164 catches and sixth with 1,939 yards. Ball State returns 11 starters (5 offense/6 defense) and 53 letter winners from last year’s 4-8 squad, 3-5 in the MAC...S Sean Baker is the school’s all-time career leader in interceptions (15)...QB Keith Wenning threw 11 TD passes in his last six games as a freshman...Wenning appeared in all 12 games, starting the final ten contests.
Nick’s Pick: Indiana 37 – Ball State 26
Comment: Ball State will be much improved under new head football coach Pete Lembo, just not in week #1.
Army (0-0, 0-0 Independent) at Northern Illinois (0-0, 0-0 MAC)
Saturday, September 3, 2011 • 7:00 pm ET • DeKalb, Ill. • Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium (24,000)
ESPN3 • Announcers: TBD
Series: Army leads 1-0
Notes: Last year Black Knights went 7-6 and a victory over SMU in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, which was Army’s first bowl win in 25 years...
Army will be tested early and often in 2011 as the Black Knights’ first three games are vs. opponents that each won at least seven games and made bowl appearances last season. NIU returns 47 letter winners, including 14 starters (9 offense/5 defense)…Last year, the Huskies went 11-3, 8-0 in the MAC, and defeated Fresno State 40-17 in the 2010 uDrove Humanitarian Bowl...QB Chandler Harnish led the MAC in passing efficiency and ranked 11th in the nation with a 157.8 mark, while his 5,728 career passing yards and 40 passing TDs both rank fourth in NIU history.
Nick’s Pick: NIU 35 – Army 28
Comment: The Huskies provide the MAC a rare non-conference victory in week one.
Ohio (0-0, 0-0 MAC) at New Mexico State (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
Saturday, September 3, 2011 • 8:00 pm ET • Las Cruces, NM • Aggie Memorial Stadium (30,343)
Series: First Meeting
Notes: The Bobcats return 12 starters (8 offense/4 defense) and 54 letter winners from last year’s squad that went 8-5, 6-2 in the MAC and earned a visit to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (L, 21-48, Troy)...Frank Solich is two games away from winning his 100th career victory...QB Tyler Tettleton was named Ohio starter following training camp. Last year New Mexico State posted a 2-10 overall record, 1-7 in the WAC...Aggies return 45 letter winners and 20 starters (9 offense/8 defense/3 specialists)...New Mexico State will play two of their first three games at home.
Nick’s Pick: Ohio 27 – NM State 21
Comment: Nothing comes easy for MAC teams on the road, even against dreadful programs like the NMSU Aggies.