2019 MAC football schedules released; WMU-CMU game gets favorable date

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Western Michigan head coach Tim Lester, left, and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh shake hands after the 2018 game.

If you happened to be on campus in Kalamazoo or Mount Pleasant on Wednesday, and you saw an athletic director doing a little happy dance, well, here's why.

The Mid-American Conference released its 2019 football schedules, and rivals Western Michigan and Central Michigan couldn't have been any happier about the scheduling of their annual showdown.

The Western-Central game is scheduled for Sept. 28 in Kalamazoo.

That's noteworthy for a few reasons: For starters, the game is on a Saturday, widely preferred by both schools for attendance purposes. It's also early in the season, the earliest the game has taken place since it was Sept. 17 in 2011. That means the weather should be good, again boosting attendance.

And, this year, unlike last year, it's not on the same day as the state's big rivalry, Michigan and Michigan State, which is set for Nov. 16 in Ann Arbor.

Last year's Western-Central game in Mount Pleasant — a 35-10 Broncos win — drew just 10,097, the lowest announced attendance for the annual rivalry game in decades.

The 2017 game, which took place on a Wednesday, drew just 11,776 in Kalamazoo.

The rivalry dates back to 1907.

Each of the state's three MAC programs have impressive nonconference schedules, with Eastern Michigan (7-6 last season) visiting Power Five schools Kentucky and Illinois, Central Michigan (1-11) visiting Wisconsin and Miami (Fla.) and Western Michigan (7-6) visiting Michigan State and Syracuse.

Eastern, fresh off a second bowl in three years under sixth-year head coach Chris Creighton, will get its share of TV games — or weekday "MACtion" games in November — was will Western, which made a bowl in Tim Lester's second season.

Central will play all Saturday games, with the exception of its opener against Albany (Thursday) and finale against Toledo (Friday), after coming off a horrific season that cost head coach John Bonamego his job. Former Florida coach Jim McElwain is entering his first season as head coach.

Eastern Michigan

Aug. 31: at Coastal Carolina

Sept. 7: at Kentucky

Sept. 14: at Illinois

Sept. 21: vs. Central Connecticut State

Oct. 5: at Central Michigan

Oct. 12: vs. Ball State (homecoming)

Oct. 19: vs. Western Michigan

Oct. 26: at Toledo

Nov. 2: vs. Buffalo

Nov. 12: at Akron (ESPN or ESPN2)

Nov. 19: at Northern Illinois (ESPN or ESPN2)

Nov. 29: vs. Kent State (ESPNU or CBSSN)

Central Michigan

Aug. 29: vs. Albany

Sept. 7: at Wisconsin

Sept. 14: vs. Akron

Sept. 21: at Miami (Fla.)

Sept. 28: at Western Michigan

Oct. 5: vs. Eastern Michigan

Oct. 12: vs. New Mexico State (homecoming)

Oct. 19: at Bowling Green

Oct. 26: at Buffalo

Nov. 2: vs. Northern Illinois

Nov. 16: at Ball State

Nov. 29: vs. Toledo

Western Michigan

Aug. 31: vs. Monmouth

Sept. 7: at Michigan State

Sept. 14: vs. Georgia State

Sept. 21: at Syracuse

Sept. 28: vs. Central Michigan

Oct. 5: at Toledo

Oct. 12: vs. Miami (Ohio) (homecoming)

Oct. 19: at Eastern Michigan

Oct. 26: vs. Bowling Green

Nov. 5: vs. Ball State (ESPN2, ESPNU or CBSSN)

Nov. 12: at Ohio (ESPN2 or ESPNU)

Nov. 26: at Northern Illinois (ESPNU)


Twitter: @tonypaul1984