Mid-American Conference football teams will get several cracks at national behemoths during the 2022 season. Here’s a look at the toughest non-conference matchups MAC squads will face this fall.
12. Miami (6-6 in 2021) vs. Cincinnati (13-1) at Paul Brown Stadium, Sept. 17
The Bearcats had nine players drafted after advancing to the 2021 College Football Playoff semifinals. They may not reach that level in 2022, but they’ll certainly be a load for the RedHawks to handle.
11. Pitt (11-3) at Western Michigan (8-5), Sept. 17
One of the three losses suffered by 2021 ACC champion Pittsburgh was a 44-41 home setback to the Broncos, who were a two-touchdown underdog. That upset sets the stage for an intriguing rematch in Kalamazoo this fall.
T9. Ball State (6-7) at Tennessee (7-6), Sept. 1
Akron (2-10) at Tennessee, Sept. 17
The Volunteers are primed for a breakout season behind quarterback Hendon Hooker, who threw for 2,945 yards and 31 touchdowns with just three interceptions in his first season with the team last season.
T7. Miami (6-6) at Kentucky (10-3), Sept. 3
Northern Illinois (9-5) at Kentucky, Sept. 24
The Wildcats return quarterback Will Levis, who possesses an NFL-caliber arm and threw for 2,826 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. The Huskies will be eager to take a crack at this SEC power after winning the MAC with a bevy of freshmen and sophomores last year.
6. Central Michigan (9-4) at Oklahoma State (12-2), Sept. 1
The Cowboys return dual-threat quarterback Spencer Sanders (2,839 yards, 20 touchdowns passing and 668 yards rushing last season) from a 2021 team that advanced to the Big 12 championship game.
T4. Western Michigan (8-5) at Michigan State (11-2), Sept. 2
4. Akron (2-10) at Michigan State, Sept. 10
The Spartans re-entered the national elite last season, and are expected to stay there after filling holes on both sides of the ball with eight highly regarded transfers.
3. Kent State (7-7) at Oklahoma (11-2), Sept. 10
The Sooners have won eight or more games every season since 2000. They expect to be in the national title picture per usual this fall under first-year head coach Brent Venables, Oklahoma has lost 11 home games in the past 22 years.
2. Toledo (7-6) at Ohio State (11-2), Sept. 17
With quarterback C.J. Stroud spearheading a loaded offense, and former Oklahoma State coordinator Jim Knowles now leading what’s expected to be a much-improved defense, the Buckeyes have their sites set firmly on a national title heading into 2022.
1. Kent State (7-7) vs. Georgia (14-1), Sept. 24
The Golden Flashes will close a brutal non-conference schedule by facing the defending national champion Bulldogs, who have a legitimate chance to repeat. The matchups pits Kent State’s fast-paced offense against a smothering Georgia defense that allowed just 10 points per game last season.
Other tough matchups
Eastern Michigan (7-6) at Arizona State (8-5), Sept. 17. Toledo (7-6) at San Diego State (12-2), Sept. 24. Central Michigan (9-4) at Penn State (7-6), Sept. 24. Ohio at Penn State, Sept. 10. Ohio University (3-9) at Iowa State (7-6), Sept. 17. Bowling Green (4-8) at UCLA (8-4), Sept. 3. Bowling Green (4-8) at Mississippi State (7-6), Sept. 24. Buffalo (4-8) at Maryland (7-6), Sept. 3. Buffalo (4-8) at Coastal Carolina (11-2), Sept. 17. Kent State (7-7) at Washington (4-8), Sept. 3.