In 2003, the NIU Huskies were ranked No. 10 in the initial BCS standings (No. 12 AP), setting the stage for a mid-October matchup at Bowling Green.
At the time, Bowling Green State University – then part of the Mid-American Conference West Division – also was ranked (No. 23).
When the teams took the field, it was the first time in the Bowl Championship Series era (1998-present) that two ranked MAC schools played each other. That day, ESPN’s “College GameDay” made its first and only visit to a MAC campus.
The Falcons won that game and the division crown, edging out NIU for the right to play Miami in the MAC Championship.
Now, beginning this fall, NIU and Bowling Green will be part of the same division once again.
MAC officials have announced a new divisional alignment in football beginning with the 2012 season.
This fall also will welcome the University of Massachusetts to the conference, bringing the number of football membership to 14.
With the addition of UMass, which will compete in the East Division, Bowling Green will move to the MAC West Division.
The divisional alignment was a unanimous vote by the MAC Council of Presidents, as recommended by the Council of Director of Athletics. This alignment will be for football only.
Akron; Buffalo; Kent State; UMass; Miami; Ohio and Temple.
Ball State; Bowling Green; Central Michigan; Eastern Michigan;
Northern Illinois; Toledo and Western Michigan.
“Ever since our announcement of the addition of UMass in football last spring, divisional alignment has been a topic of conversation among our presidents and directors of athletics,” said Jon Steinbrecher, MAC commissioner. “We considered a number of different paradigms and ultimately we focused on the core principles of geography, travel and rivalries. We now have a true rotational cycle for football and a scheduling model that will extend for future years.”
This will be the first time since 2006 that the MAC will have balanced divisional schedules.
Each member will continue to play an eight-game conference schedule; however, each member now will play six divisional games and two non-divisional cross-over games. There will no longer be protected cross-over games.
UMass will begin conference play for the 2012 football season and will be eligible for the conference football championship game and a bowl game beginning in the 2013 football season.
The conference office will announce the 2012 regular season football schedule by the first week of March.
Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12 full-member conference that sponsors 23 championships and is one of 11 members of the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS).
With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in seven states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio. In addition, two universities – Temple University in Philadelphia, and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst – are members for football only.
The conference office is based in Cleveland.