Discover more from The Ypsilanti Eleven
EMU's 2023 Football Schedule Released
MAC fans are rightfully upset that their rivalry games aren't on Saturdays this year. EMU, however, is lucky in that regard.
The Ypsilanti Eleven is local, independently run, and is the only sports media hub on the internet (or anywhere) with this much coverage dedicated to Eastern Michigan. Your contributions will help pay for the year-round labor and improvements required to make this your favorite place to read about EMU and MACtion.
EMU FRIENDS & FAMILY: 75% off an annual subscription if you use an email address that ends with ‘@emich.edu’.
It’s the Mid-American Conference’s turn to announce its football schedules, and it did so on Wednesday morning.
The collective verdict: There’s so much to be upset about for MAC fans. While weeknight games in November are nothing new, this year’s spread of games is really troubling. The tug-of-war battle between fanbases that want the Saturday gameday atmosphere of their favorite games is, again, for the umpteenth time, to television executives who prefer to show the better-looking games on TV.
The Battle for the Victory Cannon (Central Michigan vs. Western Michigan)is on its fourth-straight midweek matchup. So is The Battle of I-75 (Bowling Green vs. Toledo). The Wagon Wheel (Akron vs. Kent State) will have its third midweek meetup since 2017.
Northern Illinois’ manufactured rivalry against Ball State (Bronze Stalk trophy) will be on a Tuesday night. NIU’s real rivalry against Toledo, which used to be the midweek hotness of the league, is on its fourth Saturday meet-up in a row. NIU and Toledo haven’t played a midweek game in November since 2017.
The MAC rivalries that we will be able to see on Saturdays?
On Sept. 30, when most MAC teams open conference play, EMU will be at CMU, and NIU will be at Toledo.
Then on Oct. 28, MAC fans will finally have another fruitful weekend of rivalries with WMU at EMU, and Miami at Ohio (Battle for the Bricks). Yes, I say that facetiously.
Miami at Ball State will be the season-ending Saturday (11/25), but this is another manufactured (read: fake) rivalry.
We’re not really getting rowdy over the Red Bird Rivalry for the other 364 days a year, are we?
While we’re on it, let’s look at how bleak of a final week of the season the MAC has in store.
On Tuesday, Novl. 21, we’ve got two crossover games that nobody outside of their own fanbases can truly get interested in (outside of MAC title implecations): EMU at Buffalo, and Bowling Green at WMU.
Black Friday’s games honestly look fun with a pair of intradivisional games: Toledo at CMU, and Ohio at Akron.
Then on Saturday, which is when the rest of the sport will have most of its biggest rivalries played, the MAC will concede its viewership that day by showing NIU at Kent State and Miami at Ball State.
The 20th MAC title game in Detroit will be on a Saturday. The time is currently up in the air, but traditionally this ends up being an early kick. This, to me, is a better move than having the game played on a Friday night. Even ESPN every now and then would rather have its MACtion be played on a Saturday. Go figure.
Eastern Michigan’s 2023 Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Howard (Friday)
Sept. 9 at Minnesota
Sept. 16 vs. UMass
Sept. 23 at Jacksonville State
Sept. 30 at Central Michigan
Oct. 7 vs. Ball State
Oct. 14 vs. Kent State
Oct. 21 at Northern Illinois
Oct. 28 vs. Western Michigan
Nov. 8 at Toledo (Wednesday)
Nov. 14 vs. Akron (Tuesday)
Nov. 21 at Buffalo (Tuesday)
For all the fussing that the MAC’s schedules deserve, EMU’s schedule isn’t completely unfavorable to itself.
The non-conference matchups were already known before the league’s schedule drop: EMU opens with a Friday night game against FCS-level Howard, goes to Minnesota for a potential Big Ten upset shot, home to UMass, then goes to Jacksonville State, which is in its first season as an FBS program.
The Eagles will open conference play with a Week 5 trip to Central Michigan. The last time EMU played CMU this early in the year was 2019. Ball State then Kent State both come to town before EMU goes to NIU on Oct. 21, then will host WMU for a Saturday rivalry game the following week.
November will feature just three games for EMU: Wednesday night at Toledo in the Glass Bowl (11/8), Tuesday night at home vs. Akron, then the season finale at Buffalo on the Tuesday before Turkey day.
EMU at Toledo will be on a Tuesday night, just like in 2021 when the Eagles captured its first win in the Glass bowl since 1999. Five of the last six games in this series have been decided by either three or five points, and EMU’s going to look to redeem itself after last year’s home blunder that cost it the [outright] division title. I actually think this is an instance where EMU played its way into the midweek spotlight, replacing the spot where you’d normally see NIU.
Best case scenario: EMU wins the division before its road trip to Buffalo. If a win over Toledo should matter and a win over Akron seals EMU’s fate into Ford Field, then it’ll have a great opportunity to rest its players between the Buffalo game (Tues., Nov. 21) and the MAC title game (Sat., Dec. 2).
Buffalo being EMU’s final opponent of the year is disappointing. I generally really like being able to see the team you want to beat the most at the end of the schedule. It’s a good way for fans to stay alike, and it can be very simple to build a reputation out of the regularly-scheduled matchup. I like seeing CMU at the very end of the season, not in September.
Just be happy that EMU gets its two rivalry games on Saturdays this year, I suppose? Even if one’s home and one’s on the road, it almost feels like that’s a luxury.