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Bahamas Bowl latest league tie-in for Mid-American Conference

Monday’s announcement of the Bahamas Bowl gives the Mid-American Conference five primary bowl agreements for next season.

The Bahamas Bowl will be played at Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas, from 2014 to 2019, and will feature a MAC and American Athletic Conference team in the inaugural game. The MAC will play Conference USA in 2015.

The MAC’s other primary agreements for next year are the Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, which are part of the current cycle, as well as the newly announced Boca Raton Bowl and the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., which was announced this past summer.

MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said there will be two more bowl announcements within the next couple of weeks, which would give the MAC bowl agreements with seven or eight different entities, while the conference will always have five primary bowl slots.

“It’s not a lot of fun, quite frankly, either from my office or more importantly for the coaches, student-athletes and teams, who have deserving records but you wonder if you’re going to get them placed or not,” Steinbrecher said Monday morning’s Mid-American Conference coaches teleconference. “So we just decided we were going to be very aggressive, and see if we could develop partnerships for other conferences, other organizations, other cities.”

Steinbrecher said the two teams in the MAC Championship Game will be the only schools guaranteed bowl slots, which is the case now. He said he hopes to have each game get a shot at the No. 1 selection from the conference, but the main plan will be to generate good matchups.

“Really, what’s critical is trying to manage the matchups. So if there are matchups that make sense from a geographic point of view, or simply a quality of matchup point of view, hopefully we have enough flexibility in the system to facilitate it,” Steinbrecher said. “It’s one thing to talk about it. The other thing is going to be trying to manage it and actually pull that off.”

CMU’s Davis expected back Saturday: Central Michigan was able to get a 26-23 upset win at Ohio on Saturday without the help of junior wide receiver Titus Davis, who was a late scratch with a shoulder injury.

The Chippewas should have him back for Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois at Kelly-Shorts Stadium, as Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos said Davis is probable. The Wheaton-Warrenville South product has 29 catches for 518 yards and four touchdowns this season.

“Every time he gets his hands on the ball he’s a guy who can take it the distance,” Enos said. “He makes defenses play differently against us with the coverages and the looks we get.”

NIU injury updates: NIU coach Rod Carey said cornerback Sean Evans left Saturday’s 27-20 win against Akron with a knee injury. Carey wasn’t sure on the severity of the injury.

Carey wasn’t certain about kicker Mathew Sims’ status for this week. Sims was a late scratch with an injury to his kicking leg Saturday, and Carey said he is day-to-day.

Huskies, Cardinals become bowl-eligible: Going to a bowl game is nothing new to NIU with how the program has come along. The Huskies earned their sixth win Saturday and look like a lock to go to their sixth straight bowl game after becoming bowl-eligible.

With Saturday’s 27-24 win against Kent State, Ball State also became bowl-eligible for the third straight year, improving to 6-1.

Cardinals coach Pete Lembo is hoping to get his program in the same territory such as NIU, where a bowl bid is expected.

“It’s great to be bowl-eligible,” he said. “One of the things we hoped to do when we got here was build a program that’s a consistent winner.”

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