Chippewas Open MAC Play at Temple

Matt Berning

MOUNT PLEASANT - The 2010 Mid-American Conference football season officially kicks off Thursday night in Philadelphia.

The first intraconference matchup of the season features Central Michigan, winner of three of the last four MAC titles, traveling to Temple, the preseason favorite to win the 2010 championship.

ESPNU will televise the game live to a national audience beginning at 7 p.m.

"We've challenged our players and told them they have a great opportunity," CMU head coach Dan Enos said. "It's a high profile game in a great environment early in the season. Temple is coming off a nine-win season, and Coach Golden and his staff have done a tremendous job with that program."

Both teams are coming off season opening victories against NCAA Championship Subdivision opponents. CMU shut out Hampton, 33-0, last Thursday, while Temple was a 31-24 winner over Villanova, the No. 1-ranked team in the FCS and defending national champion.

The Chippewas are seeking their seventh straight win in a MAC opener and 19th straight win over a MAC East Division opponent. CMU is 17-3 in its last 20 MAC regular season road games.

This week, however, the Chippewas will be facing a team that won nine games and played in a bowl game in 2009. Temple is the first of six opponents on CMU's 2010 schedule that played in a bowl game last season.

Offensively, the Owls are led by running back Bernard Pierce, the 2009 MAC Freshman of the Year and an All-MAC first team selection last season. Pierce ran for 1,361 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2009; he finished with 75 yards on 20 carries last week against Villanova.

Chester Stewart completed 16-of-27 passes for 200 yards and a score last week, while Brandon McManus converted 4-of-5 field goal attempts covering 53, 44, 40 and 43 yards.

CMU and Temple are meeting for the first time since 2008, when CMU claimed a 24-14 victory at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. CMU leads the all-time series 2-0, including a 42-26 win at Temple in 2006.

Thursday's game is the first of three in a row on the road for the Chippewas. CMU continues MAC play next Saturday at Eastern Michigan before closing the road trip with a nonconference date at Northwestern on Sept. 25.

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