Start gathering the tailgate gear! It's almost time!
In one month, collegiate football teams across the country open their 2010 seasons. Among them are five Mid-American Conference squads, who will kick off the campaign Thursday, Sept. 2.
Ball State, Buffalo, Central Michigan and Kent State play hosts, while Northern Illinois hits the road for a matchup against Iowa State.
Temple and Toledo have home games Friday, Sept. 3, and the remainder of the conference joins the fray a day later.
As the games begin, MAC Report Online will once again provide fans reports from across the conference. For openers, we offer the 2010 Mid-American Conference football preseason Media poll.
Media members favored Temple in the East and Northern Illinois in the West, with Temple getting the edge in a potential MAC championship tilt.
The Owls garnered 17 first place votes on the way to 137 total points in the poll. Northern Illinois grabbed 15 first place nods while gathering 115 overall points. Central Michigan was 32 points behind the Huskies in the West. Ohio, which faced CMU in the 2009 MAC championship tilt, accumulated 116 points - 21 behind Temple - in media balloting on the MAC East. Ohio also picked up three first place votes.
Temple, coming off an appearance in the EagleBank Bowl, returns 56 letter winners and 16 starters from a team that went 9-4 overall and 7-1 in conference play. That one late season loss cost the Philadelphia contingent a spot in the MAC championship tilt.
Among the returning Temple players is 2009 MAC Freshman of the Year Bernard Pierce, a sophomore who gained 1,361 yards rushing and tallied 16 TDS. Three returning Owls lineman who earned All-MAC honors helped pave the way for Pierce, a sophomore who is already being promoted for Heisman consideration.
MAC Defensive Player of the Year Adrian Robinson (DE) is among five All-MAC selections returning for the Owls this season.
"I know this is our most talented team, but the best players don't always make the best team (and) the best team always wins," Temple coach Al Golden said. "We have to make sure that we're not just a bunch of talented individuals, and that we come together as a team. I think our kids have done a good job with that."
Northern Illinois is also a talent-rich and experienced team. The Huskies return 19 starters, including 11 on an NIU defense that ranked No. 1 in the MAC in total defense a year ago.
Junior quarterback Chandler Harnish and senior WR Landon Cox, are back, along with junior running back Chad Spann, who picked up 1,038 yards and scored a league-leading 19 rushing TDs.
Complete voting results are as follows:
1. Northern Illinois - 115 (15)
2. Central Michigan - 83 (3)
3. Western Michigan - 77 (2)
4. Toledo 75
5. Ball State 50
6. Eastern Michigan - 20
1. Temple 137 (17)
2. Ohio - 116 (3)
3. Kent State - 94
4. Bowling Green - 74
5. Miami - 53
6. Buffalo - 48
7. Akron - 38
Individual Team previews begin Aug. 1.