Football team revs up for season

Deanna Stevens

As far as Mid-American Conference athletics are concerned, summer is officially over.

Kent State, along with the other 12 M.A.C. football teams, took part in the leagues’ annual Media Day in Detroit Sunday and Monday. As a part of the festivities, the league announced a third bowl game later this season, along with preseason standings predictions.

Teams were represented by their head coaches and two players in order to give an overview of what to expect on the gridiron this season.

Kent State coach Doug Martin brought red-shirt junior Najah Pruden and senior defensive lineman Daniel Muir to represent the Flashes.

Pruden was in the top 10 wide receivers in the league last season. He converted 33 catches for 688 yards and five touchdowns. Muir, an All-M.A.C. preseason selection, recorded 52 tackles along with 3.5 sacks in 2005.

Something to expect from the Flashes this season is a team full of players that have a deeper understanding of the game. After all the injuries last season and the amount of young players who had to perform, Martin said, experience level will be a major factor this year.

“We have a much more experienced team,” Martin said. “We’re still a pretty youthful team, but they are filled with experience.”

Something the whole league can look forward to this season is a third bowl game.

According to a press release by M.A.C. commissioner Rick Chryst, in addition to the Motor City Bowl, also in Detroit, and the GMAC, the International Bowl will be the latest addition to the M.A.C. season.

The International Bowl will be played in Toronto on Jan. 6, 2007, against an opponent from the Big East Conference.

This game marks only the second time in history that a college football game will be played outside the United States. The first was the 1937 Bacardi Bowl played in Havana, Cuba between Auburn and Villanova.

Each division champion will be guaranteed a bowl invitation.

If the preseason polls are correct, Akron and Northern Illinois will be two of the teams invited.

In the preseason poll, the Flashes were picked to finish fifth in the Eastern Division. Coming off their M.A.C. championship season, cross-town rival, Akron, was chosen to finish first in the East.

Finishing up the list with Miami at the No. 2 spot, the Falcons of Bowling Green third, and the Ohio Bobcats in forth. Buffalo completes the Eastern list in the No. 6 position.

For the Western Division, Northern Illinois was predicted to win its side of the conference, while Toledo, Western Michigan, along with Central Michigan were picked to go No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 respectively.

Ball State and Eastern Michigan finish up the final two predictions.

Temple University finds itself as the thirteenth school in the M.A.C. The Owls will make their official M.A.C. debut in 2007 in seven. But until then, they will get a taste of what to expect when they play four conference teams this season, including the Flashes on Oct. 7.

The Flashes will have their first opportunity to prove themselves as a force in the M.A.C. against Big Ten opponent Minnesota at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 31 at Dix Stadium.

Contact football reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].