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Blue & Gold Illustrated

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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38 OCT. 7, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI MAC ATTACK Three down, three new ones in the hopper … and maybe six more to go. That might summarize how the cur- rent relationship between the Notre Dame football program and the Mid- American Conference has developed this decade and will likely continue into at least the 2020s. The MAC was formed in 1946. Although Notre Dame had played schools such as Miami (Ohio) in 1909 or a little later, it wasn't until 2010 that the Fighting Irish played any of the current 12 schools — divided into two divisions — in the MAC. The first such contest was hosting Western Michigan in 2010, a 44-20 vic- tory. Then in 2017 it posted a 52-17 win versus Miami (Ohio), coached by former Notre Dame assistant Chuck Martin (2010-13). Then last year, it mucked its way through a tougher- than-expected 24-16 decision over the in-state Ball State Cardinals. Those were the "three down" schools from the MAC. Technically, Massachusetts could be included as well because the Minutemen were part of the MAC in 2015 when they lost 62-27 at Notre Dame before be- coming an independent. After hosting Bowling Green for the first time ever this October, and West- ern Michigan again in 2020 (Sept. 19), also on the schedule for the future are Toledo in 2021 (Sept. 11) and Northern Illinois in 2024 (Sept. 7). Chances are that somewhere down the road some of the other six MAC teams — Ak- ron, Buffalo, Central Michigan, East- ern Michigan, Kent State and Ohio — could be added. Akron is where former Notre Dame head coach Gerry Faust (1981-85) was the head coach from 1986-94. Current Fighting Irish offensive line coach Jeff Quinn was the boss at Buffalo from 2010-14, while head coach Brian Kelly thrived at Central Michigan from 2004-06. Lou Holtz (1986-96) gradu- ated from Kent State in 1959. Why has the MAC suddenly be- come a regular staple on the Notre Dame schedule? Times change, and Notre Dame has had to as well. When the stadium was expanded in 1997, FieldTurf or even a video board were still consid- ered a potential desecration, but now they have become added elements. Other than continuing its annual rivalry with Navy that began in 1927 and has since remained uninter- rupted, Notre Dame seldom has ven- tured outside of playing a team from a major league, or the Power Five — ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and Big 12 — as it is known today. As a football independent, albeit a partial member in the ACC, the modus operandi of its schedules has emphasized a slate laden with teams from such leagues. The military academies have been the prime exception. That began to change in 2008 un- der then Notre Dame athletics direc- tor Kevin White. GAME PREVIEW: BOWLING GREEN Top STorylineS In his first season with the Falcons, head coach Scot Loeffler has a big rebuilding project in front of him. PHOTO COURTESY BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY Predictions Todd Burlage: Notre Dame 52, Bowling Green 10 With a 1-3 record and three straight losses all by an average of more than 40 points, first-year Bowl- ing Green head coach Scot Loeffler is facing a rebuilding project perhaps even more difficult than he expected. Statistically, the Eagles are the worst team on Notre Dame's schedule. Vince DeDario: Notre Dame 56 Bowling Green 10 In its last three outings, Bowling Green has given up an average of 49.7 points per game and only scored a total of 27. I do not see Notre Dame looking past this one prior to USC. The Fighting Irish roll, with a lot of playing time for younger players. Andrew Mentock: Notre Dame 57, Bowling Green 3 The Irish offense will be too much to handle and will be up by at least two touchdowns by the end of the first quarter and winning by close to 40 by the half. Bowling Green might score on a field goal, but the team spends more of the afternoon in its own territory. Mike Singer: Notre Dame 59, Bowling Green 10 This game is sandwiched between the Virginia and USC contests, so you'd hope that Notre Dame doesn't look past the Falcons. However, Bowling Green is not a very good team, to put it nicely, so Notre Dame should absolutely roll. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 56, Bowling Green 7 This is an example of how even though Notre Dame and USC laudably are the only two Football Bowl Subdivision teams to have not played anyone from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), Bowl- ing Green is currently less competitive than a lot of FCS teams would be.

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