In this sixth installment of this all conferences experience series, our game traveler, Mike (@CFBcampustour) will be answering questions focusing on the “best of” categories for each conference.
He’s been fortunate to visit all 130 FBS schools and attend games at 88 of them since 2017. Since he hasn’t seen a game at all 130 schools, his opinion is only partially informed. Still, he’s here to provide the best answers he can based on his experiences to date.
The next conference up is the MAC. To date, he’s witnessed a game at eight of the 12 MAC schools. Here’s the breakdown:
Schools I’ve attended games at:
Akron, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Miami (OH), NIU, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan
Schools still needed:
Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Kent State
What is the best MAC game you’ve witnessed?
Nov. 6, 2019 – Miami University at Ohio. I was really excited to be in Athens for the 96th version of the “Battle of the Bricks” rivalry. The rivalry dates back to 1908. In this one, the home Bobcats were looking avenge a 30-28 loss in Oxford in 2018.
Peden Stadium had a great crowd for a Wednesday night, too. That’s partly because of the rivalry and partly because one student would win free tuition for the spring semester. The university smartly waited until the fourth quarter to announce the winner, so the student section was heavily involved for the majority of the game.
The game itself was the absolute textbook version of a back-and-forth game. The teams were tied at seven, 14 and at 21. Though they were even on the scoreboard, Ohio dominated nearly every statistical category — 25 first downs to 14 and 241 rushing yards to 129. The Bobcats possessed the ball for more than 36 minutes compared to less than 24 for the RedHawks. It was borderline shocking that the RedHawks were able to hang in the game.
Tied at 21 with 3:48 remaining, Miami stalled out at the Ohio 36-yard-line. Head coach Chuck Martin had a very important decision to make: (1) Try to convert a 4th-and-7; (2) Pooch punt and pin the Bobcats deep in their own territory; or (3) Attempt a 53-yard field goal.
My thought was that he’d punt, use his timeouts and hope to get the ball back again. Martin chose option No. 3 however and sent his kicker out for a long field goal try.
Sam Sloman proceeded to do what most college kickers are unable to do — make a 50-plus yard field goal:
Sloman’s clutch kick put the RedHawks up by three late in the fourth. Ohio converted one first down on its last possession, but that was all. Final score: Miami 24, Ohio 21.
For the second straight year, Miami University won the Battle of the Bricks by three points or less. This game proved to be extremely consequential, as Miami won the MAC East by one game over guess who? Ohio. It was a great game and I’m looking forward to seeing this rivalry again the next time I’m in Oxford.
Which school has your favorite stadium?
Peden Stadium/Ohio. This is a toss-up with the Glass Bowl in Toledo. I went with the oldest college football venue in the MAC. Built in 1929 and situated on the banks of the Hocking River, Peden Stadium has quite a picturesque location:
It was originally named Ohio Stadium and held the same name as Ohio State’s stadium (Ohio Stadium aka The Horseshoe) until 1946. It was eventually changed and named after legendary coach Don Peden upon his retirement.
The stadium has more than doubled in size from its inception, growing from 12,000 to its current capacity of 27,000. It feels like an old stadium, yet has incorporated modern amenities as well (FieldTurf, “Touchdown Club” in the north end zone, etc).
Most importantly, in my view, is they removed the track around the field in 2000. That’s a pet peeve of mine. It’s a great venue to catch a game.