Butch Jones (Courtesy: Robert Barclay/CMU).
MOUNT PLEASANT - Defending Mid-American Conference and Motor City Bowl champion Central Michigan University will make five appearances at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in 2007, according to the football schedule released by the league office Wednesday.
The Chippewas will also make a pair of national television appearances on the ESPN family of networks.
Central Michigan will host nonconference opponents Army and North Dakota State, as well as MAC West Division foes Toledo, Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan.
“We have a very challenging schedule that is an exciting one as well,” first-year CMU head coach Butch Jones said. “The key to any successful season is that you have to play well at home. We have three critical MAC West Division games in Kelly/Shorts Stadium this season and we are looking forward to playing those games in front of our fans.
“We also have a challenging road schedule and the mark of a championship football team is the ability to go on the road and win. This season we’ll have the opportunity to go into some of the finest college football venues in the country, playing at Clemson’s ‘Death Valley’, Kansas and Purdue.”
Highlighting the schedule is a Tuesday, Nov. 6 nationally televised game at rival Western Michigan that will air on ESPN2. CMU’s road game at Akron on Friday, Nov. 23 will be televised on ESPNU.
“Being showcased on national television is a great opportunity for our university and our football program,” Jones said. “The exciting thing is that the entire country will get a chance to see the Central-Western rivalry, which I feel is one of the greatest rivalry games in the country. Getting national exposure helps us sell our football program and maintain a championship level.”
As previously announced, CMU opens the 2007 season at Kansas on Sept. 1. It is the first meeting between the schools on the gridiron.
The Chippewas open the Mid-American Conference portion of the schedule at home against Toledo on Sept. 8. The Chippewas, who have won three straight conference openers, will be seeking their first three-game winning streak over the Rockets since 1992-94.
CMU steps out of conference for a pair of nonleague dates following the MAC opener. The Chippewas visit Big 10 foe Purdue on Sept. 15 before hosting North Dakota State on Sept. 22. The Chippewas are 0-2 all-time against Purdue, dropping contests in 1999 and 2000. The date with North Dakota State marks the first meeting between the two schools.
The Chippewas close the month of September by hosting Northern Illinois on Sept. 29. The Huskies have won nine straight over CMU, including handing the Chippewas their only conference defeat during last season’s MAC championship campaign.
After hosting Northern Illinois, CMU plays just one home game in a span of 49 days. The Chippewas open the month of October by visiting Ball State on Oct. 6. CMU has won three straight over the Cardinals.
Kelly/Shorts Stadium will welcome the Army Black Knights on Oct. 13. The Chippewas claimed a rain-soaked 14-10 win at Army’s Michie Stadium in 2005, the only prior meeting between the programs.
CMU closes the year by playing four of its final five games on the road. The stretch begins with the Chippewas’ inaugural visit to Clemson on Oct. 20, then continues with visits to MAC opponents Kent State (Oct. 27) and Western Michigan (Tuesday, Nov. 6).
CMU holds a 21-9 lead all-time over Kent State, but the programs have alternated wins and losses in the last five meetings. CMU posted a 24-21 victory at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in 2004; the last meeting at Kent State resulted in a 60-37 Golden Flashes victory in 1997.
CMU has won two of the last three against archrival Western Michigan. Last season’s 31-7 win at Kelly/Shorts Stadium guaranteed CMU at least a share of the MAC West Division crown and a spot in the 2006 MAC Championship Game.
The home finale is slated for Nov. 17 against Eastern Michigan. Each of the last three meetings between the programs has gone to overtime, with the Chippewas claiming a 24-17 win at Ypsilanti in 2006. CMU leads the all-time series, 53-25-6.
The Chippewas close the regular season at Akron on Friday, Nov. 23. CMU has won two straight, and five of the last six, over the Zips. The Chippewas rallied for a 31-17 win at the Rubber Bowl during Akron’s 2005 MAC championship season.
For the 2007 season, as was the case in 2000 and 2001 when the MAC was at 13 teams, the league will play an unbalanced conference schedule, with divisional games being the primary factor in determining the divisional champion. Crossover games within the conference will serve as a tie-breaker, in the event that head-to-head results do not determine the divisional championship. The conference schedule meets the NCAA legislation for conference championship games which specifies that a league play a full round-robin divisional schedule.
Each MAC team will play a full schedule within its division. In overall MAC games, five of the six West Division teams will play seven league games with one team (Toledo) playing eight conference games. Six of the seven East Division schools will play eight MAC games with one (Miami) playing seven MAC contests.
The 11th Marathon MAC Football Championship Game at Ford Field will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2 and will be played on a Saturday (Dec. 1) for the second time ever and the first since the 2000 game was televised on ABC.
2007 Central Michigan University Football Schedule
Date Opponent Time
at Kansas TBA
North Dakota State
at Ball State*
at Kent State*
at Western Michigan*