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2009 MAC Football Preview
Mid American Conference Football Picks
Ah yes, the Mid American Conference, also known as the MAC. The College Football conference that has seen the most unusual betting patterns on it's games over the last several years. That, not coincidentally, led to charges being filed against former players as well as the arrest of a couple of guys who masterminded the whole scheme to fix games. No worries though. If you're a bettor looking to bet on MAC football games this year you can be sure everyone will be on their best behavior. That's because extra attention, both by law enforcement and the bookmakers will be given to the MAC and it's games.
So with the scandal out of the way, why should you, the sports handicapper, focus on MAC football? Simply because when you're looking to find an edge betting, it's always a wise idea to focus on smaller conferences that other bettors, the general public, don't pay attention too. John Q Public loves to bet on Ohio State and USC, not to mention Notre Dame. The media also focuses on the major college football teams. The major teams are covered so heavily that it's next to impossible to gain an edge by learning something no one else knows about such as a key injury or some other factor that will affect a teams performance.
Not so with a conference like the MAC and other smaller conferences. Do your homework. Read all you can about these smaller conference teams. You'd be surprised what you can uncover before oddsmakers find out and adjust their lines. Sportsbooks may pay closer attention to the betting patters of the MAC now, but that still won't change the lack of betting interest and media coverage. With that in mind let's take a look at the MAC for the 2009 season.
As of this writing no odds to win the MAC have been posted by any of the Top Sportsbooks. It's best to check closer to the start of the season.
Central Michigan Chippewas - After missing a beat in 2008, the Chips are favored to win the MAC this year as they did in 2007. They have an excellent passer in QB Dan Levour. He should improve on the 21 TD passes he threw last year. The defense is also very solid. They are more than capable of coming up with a stop when needed. Butch Davis will continue to shine as head coach.
Western Michigan Broncos - The Chips arenít the only game in town. This team has a high fired offense led by QB Tim Miller. On the whole, the Broncos lost 6 players that were either first or second team All-MAC. It wonít be easy to fill that void. The defense will need to find an identity fast and could struggle early on. I expect to see this team back in bowl action for the second consecutive year.
Bowling Green Falcons - The schedule for first year coach Dave Clawsonís Falcons could prove too much to overcome. They must play Troy, Missouri and Boise State before entering MAC play. The offensive unit is solid and has a good leader in QB Tyler Sheehan. If they can get through the early part of their schedule with their pride intact, they have enough talent to compete in the MAC.
Buffalo Bulls - The Bulls have many seniors on offense, but their QB Zach Maynard is only a sophomore. He has a great target in WR Naaman Roosevelt. The senior averaged 100.1 YPG last year. The defense is questionable and has to do a better job of stopping big plays. The Bulls played 4 overtime games last year and had a record of 3-1 in those games. If key players stay healthy they could contend.
Ball State Cardinals - After starting the year 12-0, the shoe no longer fit for the Cinderella story Cardinals in the MAC Championship Game and the GMAC Bowl. They figure to regress heavily because of the loss of QB Nate Davis. The defense will be tough under new coordinator Doug Graber. They will need some luck, but the Cards could still be one of the best teams in the Mac.
Kent State Golden Flashes - Coach Doug Martinís job could be in trouble if the Golden Flashes do not improve this year. He is aided by star RB Eugene Jarvis. When he carried the ball more than 20 times last year he averaged 145 YPG. Brian Lainhart has All-MAC potential and should play well at Safety. The Golden Flashes will play several inexperienced teams and they must capitalize in order to compete.
Ohio Bobcats - Boo Jackson and Theo Scott will compete for QB on a team that had a dismal 4-8 season in 2008. Regardless of who wins the starter job, the offense will be different with more emphasis on a base-spread. The defense lost a few key starters and will be weaker than last season. They should be rebuilding this year. Fans should hope for 6 wins.
Temple Owls - This team was better than their 5-7 record reflects. They lost two OT games last year and several by small margins. They are a player or two away from being a top MAC contender. The defense figures to be strong with NT Andre Neblett anchoring the line. Coach Al Golden has yet to have a truly successful season and his days could be numbered if this team doesnít start winning. He may be in luck as it seems the pieces could be in place.
Toledo Rockets - Coach Tim Beckman inherits a team that finished 3-9 in 2008 while beating the Michigan Wolverines. They should do better under the tutelage of Beckman, but donít expect them to shoot to the top of the conference in a single year. Safety Barry Church will likely become a four time All-MAC pick after this season. The Rockets start the year out with Purdue, Colorado, and Ohio State. Thatís pretty rough.
Northern Illinois Huskies - Jerry Kill did well in his first year with the Huskies, helping them to a 6-7 record. The backfield will undoubtedly improve. Free Safety David Bryant has played many position, but settled in at FS last year. He led the team with 83 tackles in 2008. The Huskies have a weak defense and will have to fight hard to avoid regressing.
Akron Zips - Coach J.D. Brookhart will be looking for a job if the Zips donít compete for a conference title. They finished last year with a record of 5-7. The offense should be tough. QB Chris Jacquemain has good targets in WRs Andre Jones and Jeremy Bruce. The defense is nothing short of disastrous. The Zips ranked a dismal 95th in scoring last year. Donít hope for too much.
Miami Redhawks - It wonít take much for the Redhawks to improve on their 2-10 record from 2008. Coach Michael Haywood will start his first year at Miami. He should help them improve leaps and bounds, but donít expect a last to first type of change. The offense was horrid, and must do a better job of getting points on the board. The defense has to stop giving up big plays. There is hope thanks to Haywood.
Eastern Michigan Eagles - The Eagles ended last year on a positive note beating conference favorite Central Michigan in a shootout by a score of 56-52. That was the only bright spot of their 3-9 year. Look for first year coach Ron English to build the defense. The offense is already solid. I believe the Eagles could improve, but wonít get out of the MAC basement just yet.
The MAC really looks to be wide open. Many teams that were mediocre, in the 5-7 win range, return very healthy numbers of starters. Of course most folks are picking Central Michigan. They have won 10, 8 and 8 their last 3 years and return their entire defense from a year ago. Watch out for Buffalo again though. The Bulls look to be a classic case of a team on the rise. A team whose coach has put his stamp on his team. Turner Gill is in his 4th year and that's the year a coach can finally say the team is his. His players, his system and so on. 5 wins on 2007, 8 wins and a title last year. We're calling for the Bulls to once again play for the MAC title in 2009.
Check out all of our 2009 College Football Conference Previews!