The 10 Worst Non-Conference MAC Games In 2014
Now that July is here and fans’ craving for football begins to spike like a low-grade fever, many may begin to develop an idealized vision of an autumn stacked with pulse-pounding, momentous games.
Although those will certainly be on the schedule, we have to remind ourselves of the reality of the college football season, which is studded with miserable matchups and one-sided affairs, particularly in the first few weeks.
Teams in the Mid-American Conference aren’t immune. Sometimes they are the behemoth, but more often, they are the unfortunate overwhelmed.
We’ve already previewed the 10 most-intriguing non-conference games involving MAC teams in 2014, so it only seems fair to balance that out by listing the 10 least-appealing games on tap this season:
10. UMass vs. Boston College, Aug. 30
While it’s a coup for a MAC team to land a home game against a perennial bowl-qualifying ACC program, this is one that the conference likely won’t be trumpeting. The crosstown matchup between the Eagles (7-6 in 2013) and Minutemen (1-11) may draw some attention and excitement in Boston, but they’ll likely subdue shortly after kickoff.
9. Ball State vs. Colgate, Aug. 30
The blowout road goes both ways. Fresh off a terrific 2013 campaign, the Cardinals will open 2014 against FCS opponent Colgate, whose only game against FBS opposition in a 4-8 campaign last year was a 25-point loss to Air Force.
8. Northern Illinois vs. Presbyterian, Aug. 28
Same thing, only worse. Really the only blip on the Huskies’ schedule is their opener against the aptly named Blue Hose, who were abused by a poor Wake Forest team in the 2013 opener en route to a 3-8 mark.
7. Western Michigan at Virginia Tech, Sept. 27
The Hokies may have faded down the stretch a year ago, but should have no trouble at home with Western Michigan, which has lost 13 of its last 14 games. Considering the Broncos’ offensive struggles and Virginia Tech’s traditionally tough defense, Western Michigan may settle for simply putting something on the scoreboard.
6. VMI at Bowling Green, Sept. 6
To go 2-10 is bad. To do it primarily against I-AA competition is even worse. The Keydets should be easy pickings for the defending MAC champs in their home opener, which will likely mirror VMI’s 49-0 bloodletting at Virginia last September.
5. UMass at Penn State, Sept. 20
Penn State may never again be the Nittany Lions of old, but it’s come a long way since a stunning home loss to Ohio in its 2012 opener. The Lions shouldn’t have to break a sweat to get past a UMass team that was sandblasted by Wisconsin, 45-0, in Week 1 a year ago.
4. Eastern Michigan at Florida. Sept. 6
The Gators may be coming off their worst season in a generation, but this still looks like a preposterous matchup. Here again, a wobbly EMU offense may have trouble putting anything on the board against the strong defense of Florida, as the Gators have cruised to victories at The Swamp over MAC teams three times in the last four years.
3. Miami (of Ohio) at Michigan, Sept. 13
Six years ago, the Redhawks gave Michigan some problems at the Big House, hanging around in a 16-6 defeat. We probably won’t see the same results this time as Miami, currently on a 16-game losing streak, will try to avoid the 50-point thrashing the Wolverines laid on Central Michigan in their 2013 opener.
2. Kent State at Ohio State, Sept. 13
While Kent State certainly isn’t the worst team in the MAC, this one will truly pit the men against the boys. The Buckeyes, certain to be ranked in the top five to start the season, have mopped the floor with non-conference foes at The Horseshoe in recent years, winning their last five games against MAC opponents by an average margin of 36 points.
1. Eastern Michigan at Michigan State, Sept. 20
This is what happens when intra-state rivalries go too far. Hats off to the Spartans for scheduling at least one of the MAC Michigan teams in each of the last six seasons, but with State coming off its best season in years and the Eagles still staggering from one of their worst, look out below.