Big Ten: Mid-American Conference
The two leagues will meet 11 times this fall, and colleague Andrea Adelson has the full MAC breakdown. I realize that Big Ten fans don't get too jazzed about facing the MAC every year, but these scheduling agreements aren't going anywhere, so it's silly to ignore them.
Instead, let's dive in and take a look at the matchups.
- Akron at Ohio State
- Indiana at Ball State
- Western Michigan at Michigan
- Toledo at Ohio State
- Eastern Michigan at Michigan
- Miami (Ohio) at Minnesota
- Northern Illinois vs. Wisconsin (at Soldier Field, Chicago)
- Penn State at Temple
- Western Michigan at Illinois
- Eastern Michigan at Penn State
- Central Michigan at Michigan State
There are eight games at Big Ten stadiums, two at MAC stadiums and one at a neutral site.
The Big Ten went 11-2 against the MAC in 2010. The two losses came by Minnesota against Northern Illinois and Purdue against Toledo.
How will the Big Ten fare this fall against the MAC? Which Big Ten team is most likely to stumble?
I asked colleague Andrea Adelson, our nation blogger who covers the MAC and all non-AQ leagues, to help break down the Big Ten-MAC matchups. We both agreed that defending MAC champ Miami is the best bet to knock off a Big Ten squad when it visits Minnesota. Miami is Adelson's early pick to win the MAC.
Temple gave Penn State all it can handle last season in Happy Valley and will host the Nittany Lions on Sept. 17. The Temple program certainly is on the rise, but the Owls went through a coaching change in the offseason and, as Adelson points out, lose their top three defenders and have some uncertainty at the quarterback position.
The Northern Illinois-Wisconsin game intrigues me, and the Badgers would be foolish to look past the Huskies. For starters, Northern Illinois is now coached by former Badgers defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, who knows Wisconsin's players and the staff quite well. Although NIU loses standout running back Chad Spann, star quarterback Chandler Harnish is back.
Adelson writes of NIU: "I know they have pulled the upset against the Big Ten in the last several years, but they haven't played anybody as good as Wisconsin in the last three [this team rarely gets blown out, though, so that is one thing to keep in mind]."
Ball State and Western Michigan both open against Big Ten teams coming off of coaching changes, but Adelson notes that both the Cardinals and the Broncos are facing some significant personnel challenges this coming season.
The MAC won four games against Big Ten squads in 2009 but only half that total in 2010. I'd be surprised to see the Big Ten drop more than two games to the MAC this fall.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Bravo, Big Ten fans.
I can see that many of you already know about this, but it's worth mentioning again. SI.com's Stewart Mandel recently challenged college football fans to show their conference pride by donating to DonorsChoose.org, a terrific charity that helps fund projects in public schools around the country.
The early results show the Big Ten is trouncing the competition, raising more than $5,300. The SEC, for all the junk they talk, is a distant second place. Another example of Midwestern generosity is the fact the Mid-American Conference ranks third in donations with $1,141. Check out the results.
The competition is fun, but the cause is what really matters here. For those of you who haven't donated, here's a list of projects. You get to choose, which is the real cool part.
Keep up the great work!
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten and the Mid-American Conference will combine their instant replay systems for the 2008 season, further strengthening the bond between the two leagues and providing another hint that nationalization of college football officiating could be on the way. The Big Ten will oversee the program this season, with coordinator of officials Dave Parry working alongside Carl Paganelli, the MAC's coordinator of officials from 1997-2007. Paganelli will facilitate the transition for new MAC coordinator of officials Rich Fetchiet.
"We strongly believe that this marks the next natural step in regionalizing another of the important functions of college football officiating, with a goal towards further increased consistency and professionalism," MAC commissioner Rick Chryst said in a statement. "For several years, the Big Ten and MAC have been collaborating in those areas that make sense; particularly in regard to combined clinics and preseason training and development. As the importance of the instant replay function continues to grow, this broader approach should help increase performance from all those involved."
Parry mentioned last week at Big Ten media days that a merger with the MAC was on the way, so this is no surprise. The two leagues have combined on several initiatives, including scheduling. The Big Ten initiated the use of instant replay, and the MAC was quick to come on board. Expect to see more of these mergers between conference officials in the future.
Here's a list of games involving Big Ten and MAC teams this fall:
Aug. 30: Northern Illinois at Minnesota, Akron at Wisconsin
Sept. 6: Miami (Ohio) at Michigan, Eastern Michigan at Michigan State, Ohio at Ohio State
Sept. 20: Ball State at Indiana, Central Michigan at Purdue, Ohio at Northwestern, Temple at Penn State
Oct. 11: Toledo at Michigan
Nov. 1: Central Michigan at Indiana
Nov. 8: Western Michigan vs. Illinois (in Detroit)
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Dave Parry is entering his 19th and final season as Big Ten coordinator of officials, and he still shows up to work prepared. A pile of sheets detailing college football's 2008 rule changes accompanied Parry as he met with reporters Friday morning at Big Ten media days. In addition to discussing the officials' greater emphasis on player safety and sportsmanship this fall, Parry explained the new clock rules, the most dramatic of the changes.
College football will adopt a 40-second play clock that will wind at the end of the preceding play, rather than the old 25-second clock that started after the ball was marked ready for play. The 25-second clock still will be used in several instances, such as after a timeout or following a possession change. But for the most part, the clock in college football will operate like the NFL. The other key change involves out of bounds plays. The clock will start on the referee's signal rather than the snap, except for the last two minutes of each half.
I asked Parry if he was concerned about delay of game penalties, at least early in the season.
"I don't think so," he said. "Coaches know it. They've done it in their spring games. Really, when a guy goes down in bounds, you've got a lot of time, if you think about it. If he makes four yards, you put your hand up, second down, and you have 40 seconds to snap it. So there shouldn't be delay of games. There'll be some, of course, because of substitutions and confusions, but as far as keeping the pace of the game going, it'll be good and comfortable."
Former NFL official Bill Carollo will take over for Parry on Jan. 1, and Parry will become the first National Coordinator for College Football Officiating. He will be responsible for maintaining "uniformity and consistency" with officiating mechanics, rules interpretation and rule philosophies.
Parry also will coordinate officiating clinics around the country and help produce videos like the Points of Emphasis program that was played at the start of Big Ten media days. He'll work closely with officiating coordinators from various conferences, and admits college football officiating soon could be nationalized.
"We're doing a lot of things that are pushing that direction," Parry said. "[Friday afternoon], our clinic will include the Big East, the ACC, the Big Ten and the MAC. In Dallas, I think there's five conferences meeting. So you're seeing more and more coming together, doing things together. ... There's discussion to have East, West and Midwest officiating organizations. All the bowl games are neutral crews, as well as the replay officials. I wouldn't be surprised, for starters, that certain nonconference games, we'd say, 'Hey, neutral crew, neutral replay,' so we don't create a perception that somebody got some home cookin' in a big game."