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Tuesday countdown

Ranking the non-conference football games

College football games don't start for more than two months, but we're going to go ahead and get the fun started now.

Every Tuesday, all the way up until the start of the season when Northern Illinois travels to face Wisconsin on Sept. 5, we’re going to have a list/ranking for you to read and debate. Whether it’s the best players, coaches or the worst place to watch a game, we’ll have it all.

Today, we’re going to rank the Mid-American Conference’s non-conference games, all 52 of them. Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments below.

Bunnies/easy wins/mark a ‘W’ for the MAC in pen category:

52. Gardner-Webb at Buffalo, Oct. 10

51. Coastal Carolina at Kent State, Sept. 3

50. Alcorn State at Central Michigan, Sept. 19

49. Morgan State at Akron, Sept. 12

48. Hofstra at Western Michigan, Sept. 26

47. Western Illinois at Northern Illinois, Sept. 12

Western Illinois had a decent season last year, going 6-5 in FCS. But this is the easiest game NIU has on its schedule.    

46. New Hampshire at Ball State, Sept. 12

Don’t sleep on New Hampshire, which went to Army and won, 28-10, last season.

45 . Villanova at Temple, Sept. 3

Villanova turned in a good season at the FCS level, going 10-3.

44. Cal Poly at Ohio, Sept. 19

Cal Poly won the five-team Great West Conference last season with a 3-0 conference record and took Wisconsin to overtime.

43. North Texas at Ball State, Sept. 3

42. Idaho at Northern Illinois, Sept. 26

Idaho struggled in the WAC last season with a 1-7 conference record, including a 46-14 loss at an opponent NIU is familiar with in Louisiana Tech.

41. Ball State at Army, Sept. 19

40. Ohio at North Texas, Sept. 12

39. Toledo at Florida International, Sept. 26

Forgettable games:

38. Army at Eastern Michigan, Sept. 5

This is Ron English’s debut as Eastern Michigan’s coach. That’s about the only notable thing about this game.

37. Buffalo at UTEP, Sept. 5

36. Army at Temple, Oct. 10

35. Indiana at Akron, Sept. 19                        

34. Buffalo at UCF, Sept. 19

33. Cincinnati at Miami (OH), Oct. 3

Thanks for coming, here is your check:

32. Eastern Michigan at Arkansas, Oct. 31

31. Akron at Penn State, Sept. 5

30. Eastern Michigan at Northwestern, Sept. 12

29. Miami (OH) at Boise State, Sept. 12

28. Eastern Michigan at Michigan, Sept. 19

27. Temple at Penn State, Sept. 19

26. Ball State at Auburn, Sept. 26

25. Kent State at Baylor, Oct. 3

24. Miami (OH) at Northwestern, Oct. 10

23. Kent State at Boston College, Sept. 12

22. Bowling Green at Missouri, Sept. 12                        

21. Ohio State at Toledo, Sept. 19 (at Cleveland Browns Stadium)

With NIU-Wisconsin at Soldier Field only a few years away, NIU fans should pay attention to how much money Toledo takes home from this game at the home of the Cleveland Browns, as the Rockets are the home team here.

20. Kentucky at Miami (OH), Sept. 5 (at Paul Brown Stadium)

NIU fans should also take note of this game for the very same reason.

19. Ohio at Tennessee, Sept. 26

So you’re saying there’s a chance (bonus points if you get the movie reference):

18. Akron at Syracuse, Oct. 24

Syracuse has been abysmal in the past few years, so much so that any team has a realistic chance of going to Syracuse and winning.

17. Boise State at Bowling Green, Sept. 26

This was actually a decent game last season, with Boise State prevailing, 20-7, at home. Boise State is going to be a great team again, but don’t count out the Falcons pulling off a surprise.

16. Northern Illinois at Wisconsin, Sept. 5

Wisconsin fans know these numbers well: 12, 9 and 7. That’s the number of victories for Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema in each of his first three seasons as Wisconsin coach. Is another decline on the way?

15. Connecticut at Ohio, Sept. 5

14. Toledo at Purdue, Sept. 5

Worth watching:

13. Wisconsin at Northern Illinois, Oct. 24

Just kidding.

13. Bowling Green at Marshall, Sept. 19

12. Troy at Bowling Green, Sept. 3

Troy won the Sun Belt last season and this is Dave Clawson’s debut as Bowling Green’s coach.

11. Temple at Navy, Oct. 31

We’ll know by this point if Temple is for real or not, and Navy always provides a unique challenge.

10. Iowa State at Kent State, Sept. 19

Iowa State has a new coach and hasn’t done well for the past few years. Running back Eugene Jarvis could run wild here.

9. Pittsburgh at Buffalo, Sept. 12

8. Central Michigan at Boston College, Oct. 31

Circle the date:

7. Central Michigan at Arizona, Sept. 5

6. Western Michigan at Michigan State, Nov. 7

5. Northern Illinois at Purdue, Sept. 19

Purdue is in a down cycle and of NIU’s two Big Ten opponents, this looks like the more winnable game for the Huskies.

4. Western Michigan at Indiana, Sept. 12

Indiana is at the bottom of the Big Ten and lost at home to two MAC teams last season.

3. Central Michigan at Michigan State, Sept. 12

A fantastic offense led by CMU quarterback Dan LeFevour goes against a rock-solid defense that returns eight starters.

Classic potential:

2. Western Michigan at Michigan, Sept. 5

Rich Rodriguez might not make it to the end of the month as Michigan’s head coach with a loss here. Western Michigan beat Illinois at Ford Field last season and has a good, veteran quarterback in Tim Hiller that won’t be rattled by Michigan Stadium.

1. Colorado at Toledo, Sept. 11

The Glass Bowl on a Friday night against a BCS-conference opponent? Count me in. Colorado is an average Big 12 team looking to show it can contend in the North division while this is the first home game for new Toledo coach Tim Beckman. Both sides have a lot to prove.

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