Breaking down the MAC East scheduling

The Mid-American Conference released its schedules today and since scheduling is a hot topic for a lot of nonautomatic qualifying conferences, I thought it would be good to look at the nonconference scheduling as well as some of the top conference matchups.

Below is the breakdown of the MAC East. The teams are in alphabetical order, though I'd say Miami-Ohio has the toughest nonconference schedule and Ohio has the easiest.


Sept. 4: Syracuse (4-8)

Sept. 11: Gardner Webb (6-5)

Sept. 18: at Kentucky (7-6)

Sept. 25: at Indiana (4-8)

Combined record: 21-27

Combined winning percentage: .437

FCS schools: 1

Top 25 teams: 0

Bowl teams: 1

Key conference game/stretch: Akron opens the MAC conference season with a tough trio of games against Northern Illinois (Oct. 2), and at Kent State (Oct. 9) and Ohio (Oct. 16). Those three teams will likely be at the top of their respective divisions. While it’s a tough stretch, it will give new coach Rob Ianello a good gauge of where his team is heading into midseason.

Nonconference skinny: Ianello couldn’t have asked for a better schedule to ease his team into conference season. It’s not easy, but there are winnable games. It helps that the Zips open with two home games as they learn their new coaching staff and system. The Zips should come out of their nonconference season 2-2.


Sept. 4: at Troy (9-4)

Sept. 11: at Tulsa (5-7)

Sept. 18: Marshall (7-6)

Sept. 25: at Michigan (5-7)

Combined record: 26-24

Combined winning percentage: .520

FCS schools: 0

Top 25 teams: 0

Bowl teams: 2

Key conference game/stretch: The Falcons have a brutal conference stretch in the middle of the year that includes games at Ohio (Oct. 9) and Temple (Oct. 16) then at home against Kent State (Oct. 3). Those three teams figure to be the best in the MAC East.

Nonconference skinny: The Falcons lost most of its offense with the graduation of quarterback Tyler Sheehan and receiver Freddie Barnes. Troy is not an easy place to start the season and the nonconference schedule stays tough. The Falcons could easily start 0-4.


Sept. 2: Rhode Island (1-10)

Sept. 11: at Baylor (4-8)

Sept. 18: Central Florida (8-5)

Sept. 25: at Connecticut (8-5)

Combined record: 21-28

Combined winning percentage: .429

FCS schools: 1

Top 25 teams: 0

Bowl teams: 2

Key conference game/stretch: The conference opener against Bowling Green is going to be key toward getting the Bulls back on track. Both teams are going to be coming off tough nonconference schedules and looking for a win. This will be a hard fought game between two young teams.

Skinny: New head coach Jeff Quinn is going to have a tough year as he transitions to a spread offense without many of the playmakers that made Buffalo effective the past couple of years. Rhode Island should be a win, but the next three teams will give the Bulls some trouble. The Bulls are probably looking at 1-3 heading into conference.


Sept. 2: Murray State (3-8)

Sept. 11: at Boston College (8-5)

Sept. 18: at Penn State (11-2)

Nov. 13: Army (5-7)

Combined record: 27-22

Combined winning percentage: .551

FCS schools: 1

Top 25 teams: 1

Bowl teams: 2

Key conference game/stretch: The Nov. 26 game against Ohio (ESPNU) has the potential to crown the winner of the MAC East. With running back Eugene Jarvis back and several young players coming into their own, the Golden Flashes have a chance to play for the conference title.

Nonconference skinny: The nonconference schedule is a little daunting with Boston College and Penn State. Kent State has the offensive firepower to give both of those teams a run, but will have trouble containing them. Playing Army late isn’t ideal, since the Black Knights will get better as the season progresses. Still, I think Kent State is good for a 2-2 nonconference record.


Sept. 4: at Florida (13-1)

Sept. 18: Colorado State (3-9)

Sept. 25: at Missouri (8-5)

Oct. 9: at Cincinnati (12-1)

Combined record: 36-16

Combined winning percentage: .692

FCS schools: 0

Top 25 teams: 2

Bowl teams: 3

Key conference game/stretch: The Oct. 2 game against Kent State is difficult not because of the opponent, but because it’s their first conference game and it’s sandwiched in the middle of nonconference games against Missouri and Cincinnati. Coach Mike Haywood has a young team and this is a tough way to start the conference season.

Nonconference skinny: Miami-Ohio will be a better team this season, but I don’t think they’ll be athletic enough to stay with almost all of the teams on their nonconference schedule. Florida, Missouri and Cincinnati all have top offenses that will be tough for the RedHawks to contain. Colorado State is the question mark since it’s breaking in a new quarterback and coordinator. The RedHawks are still building and quarterback Zac Dysert will put some points up, but I think they finish nonconference 0-4.


Sept. 4: Wofford (3-8)

Sept. 11: Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6)

Sept. 18: at Ohio State (11-2)

Sept. 25: at Marshall (7-6)

Combined record: 27-22

Combined winning percentage: .551

FCS schools: 1

Top 25 teams: 1

Bowl teams: 2

Key conference game/stretch: Ohio has back-to-back games against Temple (Nov. 16) and Kent State (Nov. 26) to end the season. It’s a lot like the way the 2009 season ended for the Bobcats with Northern Illinois and Temple. The good thing for the Bobcats is they get extra preparation for both games, but this stretch will define their season.

Nonconference skinny: This nonconference schedules sets up nicely for an Ohio team that’s returning a lot of key members from 2009. The last game against Marshall could be dicey, but the Bobcats should be looking for revenge from the bowl game. I see Ohio going into conference play 3-1.


TBA: Villanova (14-1)*

Sept. 18: Connecticut (8-5)

Sept. 25: at Penn State (11-2)

Oct. 2: at Army (5-7)

Combined record: 38-15

Combined winning percentage: .717

FCS schools: 1

Top 25 teams: 1

Bowl teams*: 2 (Villanova won the FCS title)

Key conference game/stretch: The Owls get two weeks to prepare for its pivotal conference matchup against Ohio on Nov. 16. Ohio defeated Temple last year to win the MAC East and this game could have similar implications.

Nonconference skinny: This is not an easy nonconference schedule for the Owls. They lost to Villanova a year ago, haven’t beaten UConn since 2002 and have a 27-game losing streak to the Nittany Lions. However, I think the Owls can pull out a 2-2 nonconference record.