MAC releases football schedule; 'buy' games are back, WMU-CMU set for midweek

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Paydays are back for the Mid-American Conference.

The conference's schools — including all three in Michigan — released their 2021 football schedules Friday, and the schedules include the "buy" nonconference games again.

In 2020, the MAC played a league-only six-game slate amid the COVID-19 pandemic, costing schools millions of dollars they would've typically collected from playing Power Five programs in nonconference.

Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton.

Among the highlights, Western Michigan will play at Michigan ($1.4 million) and Pitt, Eastern Michigan will play at Wisconsin ($1.4 million), and Central Michigan will play at Missouri ($1.4 million), and LSU ($1.45 million). WMU's game against Pitt is part of a home-and-home, with Pitt coming to Kalamazoo in 2022.

Also of note, the Western-Central game — the state's second-biggest rivalry, behind Michigan-Michigan State — will be played midweek, on Wednesday, Nov. 3, in Kalamazoo.

The MAC championship game is set for Saturday, Dec. 4, at Ford Field in Detroit.

Information about fans and ticket sales will come this summer, as programs determine what is allowed based on state and local orders.

The MAC was the first FBS conference to cancel the football season in 2020, followed by the Big Ten. Both conferences eventually reversed course and played conference-only schedules.

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Eastern Michigan

Friday, Sept. 3: vs. Saint Francis

Saturday, Sept. 11: at Wisconsin

Saturday, Sept. 18: at UMass

Saturday, Sept. 25: vs. Texas State

Saturday, Oct. 2: at Northern Illinois

Saturday, Oct. 9: vs. Miami (Ohio)

Saturday, Oct. 16: vs. Ball State

Saturday, Oct. 23: at Bowling Green

Tuesday, Nov. 2: at Toledo

Tuesday, Nov. 9: vs. Ohio

Tuesday, Nov. 16: vs Western Michigan

Friday, Nov. 26: at Central Michigan

Western Michigan

Saturday, Sept. 4: at Michigan

Saturday, Sept. 11: vs. Illinois State

Saturday, Sept. 18: at Pitt

Saturday, Sept. 25: vs. San Jose State

Saturday, Oct. 2: at Buffalo

Saturday, Oct. 9: vs. Ball State

Saturday, Oct. 16: vs. Kent State

Saturday, Oct. 23: at Toledo

Wednesday, Nov. 3: vs. Central Michigan

Tuesday, Nov. 9: vs. Akron

Tuesday, Nov. 16: at Eastern Michigan

Tuesday, Nov. 23: at Northern Illinois

Central Michigan

Saturday, Sept. 4: at Missouri

Saturday, Sept. 11: vs. Robert Morris

Saturday, Sept. 18: at LSU

Saturday, Sept. 25: vs. FIU

Saturday, Oct. 2: at Miami (Ohio)

Saturday, Oct. 9: at Ohio

Saturday, Oct. 16: vs. Toledo

Saturday, Oct. 23: vs. Northern Illinois

Wednesday, Nov. 3: at Western Michigan

Wednesday, Nov. 10: vs. Kent State

Wednesday, Nov. 17: at Ball State

Friday, Nov. 26: vs. Eastern Michigan

Twitter: @tonypaul1984