MAC announces six bowl invitations for 2016 bowl season

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For the second time in Mid-American Conference history a member institution will be playing in one of the prestigious New Year’s Six Bowl Games, as MAC Champion Western Michigan will face Wisconsin in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Jan. 2 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The MAC announced today that six programs have accepted bowl invitations. The six bowl invitations are one shy of the MAC single-season record of seven bowl invitations during the 2012 and 2016 bowl seasons.

This will be Western Michigan’s first appearance in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game and the program’s eighth bowl appearance in school history. For the MAC, the previous New Year’s Day bowl appearance came four years ago during the BCS era as Northern Illinois faced Florida State on Jan. 1, 2013 in the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Western Michigan (Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Arlington, Texas), Ohio (Dollar General Bowl, Mobile, Ala.), Toledo (Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.), Central Michigan (Miami Beach Bowl, Miami, Fla.), Miami (St. Petersburg Bowl, St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Eastern Michigan (Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, Nassau, Bahamas) will represent the MAC in bowl games this season.

This also marks the ninth time in MAC history to have five or more programs receive a bowl invitation (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016) in a single-season. In the previous five bowl seasons, the MAC has a record of 11-18 in 29 bowl games – 2015 (3-4); 2014 (2-3); 2013 (0-5); 2012 (2-5); 2011 (4-1).

2016 MAC Bowl Schedule:
Toledo vs. Appalachian State (Sun Belt), Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, Dec. 17, 5:30 pm ET (ESPN)
Central Michigan vs. Tulsa (American Athletic), Miami Beach Bowl, Dec. 19, 2:30 pm ET (ESPN)
Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion (C-USA), Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, Dec. 23, 1:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Ohio vs. Troy (Sun Belt), Dollar General Bowl, Dec. 23, 8:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Miami vs. TBA, St. Petersburg Bowl, Dec. 26, 11:00 am ET (ESPN)
Western Michigan vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten), Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Jan. 2, 1:00 pm ET (ESPN)

“I am extremely proud of the students, coaches and fans at the six MAC member institutions that have received bowl invitations and our collective accomplishments as a conference this season,” said Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference. “The commitment of our students to excel has earned them this opportunity. I am very pleased with our bowl lineup and I look forward to watching the MAC teams compete. I also want to thank our bowl partners, as I speak for the entire conference, we appreciate these partnerships. The students, coaches and fans from our programs are going to have wonderful experiences.”

The complete MAC bowl schedule is as follows: All times are Eastern.

Dec. 17: Raycom Media Camellia Bowl – Montgomery, Ala. 5:30 pm ET (ESPN)
Toledo (9-3, 6-2) vs. Appalachian State (9-3, 7-1, Sun Belt Conference)
Note: Toledo completed the regular season in second-place in the MAC West Division with a 9-3 overall record, 6-2 in the MAC West. First-year head coach Jason Candle led Toledo to another successful season and will be leading the Rockets to his second-bowl game, as last year Candle replaced Matt Campbell as Toledo defeated Temple, 32-17, in the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 22, 2015. Toledo will be making its third consecutive bowl appearance (2015 Marmot Boca Raton Bowl; 2014 GoDaddy Bowl) and its sixth bowl game in the last seven years (2015 Marmot Boca Raton Bowl; 2015 GoDaddy Bowl; 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl; 2011 Military Bowl; 2010 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl). Toledo will be making its Conference leading 16th bowl appearance in program history (11-4 record in bowl games).

Dec. 19: Miami Beach Bowl – Miami, Fla. 2:30 pm ET (ESPN)
Central Michigan (6-6, 3-5) vs. Tulsa (9-3, 6-2, American Athletic Conference)
Note: Central Michigan wrapped up the 2016 season with a 6-6 overall record, 3-5 in the MAC. Second-year head coach John Bonamego led the Chippewas this season to a non-conference wins over Oklahoma State and UNLV. The program will be making its third consecutive bowl appearance, its fourth in the last five years and the eighth in the last 11 seasons. Last season Central Michigan suffered a 21-14 loss to Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl. The game will also witness the final collegiate game of Chippewas quarterback Cooper Rush, one of the most celebrated quarterbacks in Conference history. Rush currently ranks second in the MAC in career passing yards (12,390), third in total offense (12,291), fifth in career attempts (1,563) and completions (976) and tied for fifth in career passing touchdowns (90).

Dec. 23: Popeyes Bahamas Bowl – Nassau, Bahamas 1:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Eastern Michigan (7-5, 4-4) vs. Old Dominion (9-3, 7-1, Conference USA)
Note: Eastern Michigan is headed to a bowl game for the first time since the 1987 season. Eastern Michigan finished the season with a 7-5 overall record, 4-4 in the MAC, and a winning season for the first time since the 1995 season. Led by head coach Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan was tied for the biggest turnaround in FBS in 2016 by improving on its win total from one win in 2015 to seven wins this season. This is Eastern Michigan’s second bowl appearance as the only other appearance was a 30-27 win over San Jose State in 1987 in the California Raisin bowl in Fresno, Calif.

Dec. 23: Dollar General Bowl – Mobile, Ala. 8:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Ohio (8-5, 6-2) vs. Troy (9-3, 6-2, Sun Belt Conference)

Note: Ohio ended the regular season as MAC East Division Champions and suffered a 29-23 loss to Western Michigan in the 2016 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game on Dec. 2. Bobcats head coach Frank Solich is in his 12th year leading the Ohio football program and is the third-winningest head coach in MAC history with an 88-66 record at Ohio. Last season Ohio suffered a 31-29 loss to Appalachian State in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl. The Bobcats have been bowl eligible in 10 of the 12 years under Solich and will be making their eighth bowl appearance during his coaching tenure. Overall, Ohio will be making its 10th bowl appearance in school history.

Dec. 26: St. Petersburg Bowl – St. Petersburg, Fla. 11:00 am ET (ESPN)
Miami (6-6, 6-2) vs. TBA
Note: Miami established an FBS record as becoming the first program to win six consecutive games after starting the season with an 0-6 record. Led by third-year head coach Chuck Martin, the RedHawks will be making the program’s first bowl game since 2010 and the first under Martin. Miami will be making the program’s 11th overall bowl appearance as the RedHawks have a 7-3 bowl record.

Jan. 2: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic – Arlington, Texas 1:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Western Michigan (13-0, 8-0) vs. Wisconsin (10-3, 7-2, Big Ten)
Note: Western Michigan is one of two programs undefeated in FBS this season and has the second-longest current winning streak in the nation (15 games). Western Michigan won the 2016 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game with a 29-23 win over Ohio on Dec. 2, the program’s first MAC Championship since 1988. Western Michigan set a school record with its 13-0 record and will be going to its first ever New Year’s Day Six Bowl appearance, and the program is bowl eligible for the third consecutive year. The Broncos are under fourth-year head coach P.J. Fleck, who in his first year witnessed a 1-11 overall record, then sported consecutive 8-5 seasons in 2014 and 2015 before this year’s 13-0 record. Western Michigan will be appearing in a bowl game for the sixth time in the last 11 years and fifth time in the last nine years. Last year the Broncos earned the programs first-ever bowl victory with a 45-31 win over Middle Tennessee in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.