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Big Ten foes don't strike fear in MAC teams

MAC Preseason Poll

West Division

1. Central Michigan (154 points)

2. Western Michigan (126)

3. Northern Illinois (103)

4. Toledo (71)

5. Ball State (58)

6. Eastern Michigan (34)

East Division

1. Buffalo (155 points)

2. Temple (144)

3. Akron (128)

4. Ohio (116)

5. Bowling Green (101)

6. Kent State (51)

7. Miami (Ohio) (33)

MAC Championship Game winner: Central Michigan (18 points), Western Michigan (4), Buffalo (2), Temple (2).

DETROIT – Even the Mid-American Conference is piling on the Big 10.

The MAC held its football media day Friday at Ford Field and Northern Illinois University quarterback Chandler Harnish was asked about playing two Big 10 teams this season in Wisconsin and Purdue on the road.

“Last year we went Big 10 (at Minnesota) and SEC (at Tennessee) so it’s almost like a downgrade,” Harnish said.

Harnish was then quick to praise Wisconsin and Purdue.

“In all honesty, those are two great programs with great traditions,” Harnish said. “Purdue has the cradle of quarterbacks. Wisconsin has the great tradition of running backs and they’ve got another great one this year.

“But we’re going up there expecting to win. And that’s what you have to do. Obviously we’re going to be undersized but if we play with real heart and great technique we’ll have a great shot.”

Harnish said he spent time with Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour and Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller and learned from them.

“I watched those guys in high school so it was kind of cool to be in the same room as them,” Harnish said.

There was lots of praise from multiple MAC teams for Hiller, who played through a torn ACL at the end of last season.

“That guy is tough,” Harnish said. “A lot of times you hear that quarterbacks aren’t tough. Then you hear that story and people here that and the perceptions really change.”

Bell update:
NIU coach Jerry Kill said he doesn’t expect junior running back Cameron Bell to be eligible for this season. Bell was released from his scholarship at Iowa State and transferred to NIU. He still is in the appeals process with the NCAA to try and play this season, but if he doesn’t win that he still will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Mystery solved: When the roster came out last month, many NIU fans wanted to know about 5-foot-7, 148-pound walk-on tailback/defensive back Furqan Muhammad. Kill answered those questions Friday.

Kill said the connection comes from DeAngelo Evans, who was a running back at Nebraska before transferring to play for Kill at Emporia State. Evans recommended Muhammad to Kill.

“He’s a good person and I’m looking forward to seeing him [play],” Kill said. “It’ll be interesting.”

Not all a Twitter: Toledo coach Tim Beckman has become somewhat of an expert on Twitter after signing up a few months ago and using it with great frequency. He’s been quoted on it in numerous articles and said Friday he really enjoys directly updating Toledo fans with what’s going on in the program.

Asked how many questions he already had gotten about his use of Twitter on Friday morning, Beckman responded, “Oh, gosh. Hundreds.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Kill said he wouldn’t be signing up for Twitter any time soon.

“I’m working on a couple of other things,” Kill said. “I would if I thought it had any benefits. But I’m not convinced it’s benefiting recruiting.”

Defending the defense: The MAC has a long reputation of putting up points and games that turn into shootouts. Friday, Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit spoke about the defense in the MAC, saying, “The toughest defenses are in this league.”

“The reason is that everybody is almost about the same and everyone is trying to get the best out of their personnel so the schemes are so different,” Cubit said. “We played Iowa, and Iowa has a great defense, but it's not mentally as hard because what they do they do well. In this league, you can see seven, eight different coverages in a game.

“When you play those teams, they don't do that. They let their guys play because they've got really, really good players. Not that we don't have good players, but it's not the same.”

Polling numbers:
The MAC preseason poll also came out Friday, with NIU picked to finish third in the West.

There aren’t too many surprises in the preseason poll, but NIU safety David Bryant says the Huskies are pretty close to the top two teams in the West.

“I think we’re fairly close,” Bryant said. “Each team lost important players from last year but have important guys coming back. But if you watch both of those games from last year, they both came down to the wire. And then they played each other it came down to the wire. I think all three teams are right there with each other.”

Buffalo was picked to finished first in the East and Temple was selected to finish second. Buffalo coach Turner Gill bristled when asked about being picked first.

“That doesn’t change anything,” Gill said.

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